Ms. Vestager was expected to hold a news conference to discuss the findings later on Friday.
Spotify cheered the decision.
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“Ensuring the iOS platform operates fairly is an urgent task with far-reaching implications,” Horacio Gutierrez, Spotify’s head of global affairs and chief legal officer, said in a statement. The commission’s announcement, he said, “is a critical step toward holding Apple accountable for its anticompetitive behavior, ensuring meaningful choice for all consumers and a level playing field for app developers.”
Apple said its App Store policies do not harm competition, but rather give businesses a platform to reach customers. The company said developers can find payment alternatives, noting that Spotify pays little in commissions to Apple because it makes customers subscribe through a website. Apple said Spotify has become the world’s largest music streaming service in part because of the App Store.
“They want all the benefits of the App Store but don’t think they should have to pay anything for that,” Apple said in a statement. “The commission’s argument on Spotify’s behalf is the opposite of fair competition.”
Criticism of the App Store is part of a broader debate over tech industry power, where a small number of companies like Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon have government-like authority to set policies over major parts of the digital economy. It determines how people find information and entertainment, communicate and shop.
This week, Apple flexed its power by introducing a software update that gave customers more power to block data tracking by apps, a change that has sparked a rivalry with Facebook, which has criticized the move as anticompetitive because it will harm the ability to sell online advertising.
Companies are increasingly pushing regulators and courts to intervene. At a congressional hearing in Washington last week, companies including Spotify, Tile and Match Group told senators how policies by Apple and Google, whose Play Store is another pinch point for app developers, hurt competition and resulted in higher app prices for customers. And next week, a trial is scheduled to begin in California between Apple and Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite that has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple over its fees.