Friday, October 28, 2022

Apple Rejects Spotify Update That E-mails External Purchase Info

Juli Clover:

Apple and Spotify are once again feuding as Spotify attempts to break into the audiobook market, reports The New York Times. Apple has reportedly rejected Spotify’s latest app update three times in the last month.


Apple last year agreed to an App Store rule change that allows developers to use communications like email to share information methods about payment options that are available outside of an iOS app[…]


Apple apparently told Spotify that it can send customers emails about online purchases, but Spotify is not able to offer a button inside of the app to request emails. The feature was designed with Spotify’s legal team involved, and Apple initially approved the update in September, but later reversed course, rejecting subsequent updates.

Marco Arment:

I love how Spotify routinely tries to break Apple’s extremely long-standing IAP rules, then acts all surprised and tries to start a big public campaign every time Apple says no.

The rules are indeed bullshit, but Spotify’s (repeated) act is even more bullshitty than Apple’s.

In this case, it’s not a long-standing rule. It’s a year-old rule that was a result of the agreement with the Japan FTC. Apple, of course, says the app was “rejected for not following the guidelines.” Obviously, what Spotify did goes against Apple’s wishes, but I don’t think it’s clearly against the written guidelines:

Apps in this section cannot, within the app, encourage users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase, except as set forth in 3.1.3(a). Developers can send communications outside of the app to their user base about purchasing methods other than in-app purchase.

It sounds like the app included a button to e-mail information about how to purchase. That information is not “within the app.” And the second sentence specifically says that they are allowed to send e-mails about purchasing methods. It’s not clear to me how this is so different from Netflix’s (Apple-approved) method of offering a button to initate a phone call to the company. They’re just delivering the information via e-mail instead of audio.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

This is a no-brainer to us, but the general public and policymakers don’t have a full grasp on how anticompetitive and harmful Apple’s rules are. Public blowups like this are necessary — we’ve got used to it over 14 years, we don’t even realize how bad things look from outside

Ryan Jones:

It’s a reasonable way to surface objections to the public if you have exhausted all other avenues for years and feel as wronged as they do.


Update (2022-11-01): Patrick Balestra:

If you’re wondering why there was no Spotify iOS update in the last month, here’s why.

Florian Mueller:

While I really hope the Spotify case will lead to something that will help not only Spotify, I can’t help but note that Spotify came out with this criticism of Apple’s conduct right before publishing its Q3 shareholder report (PDF). After hours, its stock (SPOT) lost almost 7%. It looks like they want investors to know that their business could do a lot better if not for Apple’s App Store monopoly abuse. But that takes us to the second question, which is whether Spotify is on the right track with its efforts to solve that problem.


The decision Spotify will have to make now is whether to continue to wait for the EU Commission or start some private litigation in one or more jurisdictions. I’ve said it on other occasions: those CAF companies might already have won spectacular decisions in Munich if they sued there. That forum could become one of the most important App Store venues in the world. Spotify would give the Commission an “excuse” for not staying on top of the Apple cases, however, if it sued (especially if it sued in the EU).

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[…] which included a way to get an email with information about buying audiobooks. These updates were rejected because Spotify is only able to email customers in ways that do not circumvent in-app purchases for […]

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