Spotify has accused Apple of using its power over its App Store to engage in unfair business practices.
Now, Apple’s top lawyer, Bruce Sewell, has fired back in a letter to Spotify obtained by Buzzfeed.
An Apple spokesperson confirmed the letter was real but declined to comment.
Sewell opens the letter by saying that Apple is “disappointed with the public attacks” that Spotify has made.
Yesterday, Recode reported that it had obtained a private letter from Spotify to Apple accusing it of using its App Store as a “weapon to harm competitors,” but Spotify has been making these general arguments publicly for about a year.
Spotify’s general complaint is that Apple takes either a 30% or 15% cut of subscriptions generated through its iPhone or iPad app. So Spotify invited and encouraged users on its app to sign up online instead of through its app, which is against Apple’s policies.
So Apple rejected an update that Spotify wanted to make to its app.
“Shortly after Spotify submitted its app on May 26, our team identified a number of issues, including that the in-app purchase feature had been removed and replaced with an account sign-up feature clearly intended to circumvent Apple’s in-app purchase rules,” Sewell wrote. “That feature exists only for the purpose of avoiding having to pay Apple for your use of the App Store by emailing customers within hours, directing them to use Spotify on its website. A clear violation of the terms every other developer adheres to.”
The issue is touchy for Apple because Spotify is accusing Apple of policies that may be considered anticompetitive behaviour, and the FTC is currently investigating whether to sue Apple for antitrust violations, according to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
“There is nothing in Apple’s conduct that ‘amounts to a violation of applicable antitrust laws,'” Sewell wrote.