Apple’s Anti-Competitive Behavior Hurts Everyone—Including Audiobook Listeners, Publishers, and Authors

We believe consumers win when competition is not only promised, but guaranteed. Consumers and creators benefit when they can more easily connect and enjoy the latest and greatest innovations without hurdles. Apple continues to stand in the way of Spotify’s and other developers’ abilities to provide a seamless user experience, and its restrictions hurt both creators and consumers alike. 

Spotify’s recent launch of Audiobooks in the U.S. is the perfect example of just how far Apple will go to disadvantage competitors. The Audiobooks purchase flow that Apple’s rules force us to provide consumers today is far too complicated and confusing — confusing because they change the rules arbitrarily, making them impossible to interpret. Bottom line, we’re forced to make users work even harder to listen to an audiobook. This harms not only consumers, but, this time, also authors and publishers who now find themselves under Apple’s thumb. We believe there is huge potential to grow the audiobooks market and get more authors heard by new listeners—but the purchase flow we’ve been forced into is artificially limiting that growth. 

And while the challenges we’re facing with Audiobooks are serious, this is just one example across multiple years that shows how Apple is trying to control the entire internet ecosystem. Here’s what our CEO, Daniel Ek, had to say: 

“Almost four years. That’s how long it’s been since Spotify filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission, and we are still waiting on a decision. And while we wait, Apple continues to dictate what online innovation looks like, doing serious harm to the internet economy, choking competition and the imagination of app developers. In the absence of government intervention—in Europe, the U.S., or any other market around the world—Apple has shown time and again that it will not self-regulate and has no real incentive to change. With our Audiobooks launch, Apple has once again proven just how brazen it is willing to be with its App Store rules, constantly shifting the goalposts to disadvantage their competitors.” 

Importantly, this issue has implications that are far reaching and go well beyond Spotify, as outlined in a recent New York Times article. It’s about the companies just getting off the ground, the ones fighting for a shot, the ones that are still an idea in some young person’s mind. And because Apple continues to give itself unfair advantages at every turn, key decision makers have no choice but to act swiftly and boldly to end their anti-competitive behavior.

Learn more on Time to Play Fair, our site about fair competition in the world of audio streaming.