EU to Fine Apple €500 Million for Anti-competitive Music Practices

By Consultants Review Team Monday, 19 February 2024

The European Union (EU) is poised to levy a record-breaking fine of approximately €500 million (equivalent to $539 million) against Apple, marking a significant milestone in the EU's regulatory efforts targeting major tech companies, as reported by the Financial Times (FT) on Sunday. This penalty, the EU's first against Apple, follows a protracted antitrust investigation into allegations of the tech giant's anti-competitive behavior related to its music streaming services.

Initiated in response to a formal complaint by Spotify in 2019, the investigation scrutinized claims that Apple exploited its platform to prioritize its own music streaming services over competitors, potentially breaching EU competition laws. At the core of the probe was whether Apple hindered apps from informing iPhone users about alternative, potentially cheaper music subscription options outside of its App Store ecosystem.

Expected to announce its findings in the coming weeks, the European Commission is poised to assert that Apple's actions violated EU competition regulations designed to ensure fair market competition. A spokesperson from the European Commission emphasized that the fine underscores the EU's firm stance against anti-competitive practices, particularly by dominant market players like Apple, which are deemed detrimental to consumer choice and market fairness.

Insiders familiar with the matter revealed that Brussels will accuse Apple of leveraging its dominant market position to impose unfair trading conditions on its rivals. This impending fine is anticipated to be one of the largest penalties imposed by the EU on major tech firms, rivaling previous fines imposed on Google, which are currently under legal review.

While Apple has previously faced legal challenges, notably in France where it received a €1.1 billion fine in 2020 (later reduced to €372 million), it has never before been fined for antitrust violations by the EU. In response, Apple reiterated its commitment to fostering a competitive environment and highlighted its role in enabling Spotify's success as the leading music streaming service in Europe. Nevertheless, critics remain skeptical, citing ongoing concerns about Apple's alleged anti-competitive practices.

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