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I agree that Spotify is taking the right stance. In their position, working on whatever team is responsible for fighting Apple, I would also do anything in my power to fight.

Having said this, Apple can do as they please. They control the hardware, the OS, the App Store, and the user accounts. The same was true of Twitter who effectively squeezed access to their API until one or two desktop clients remained.

The only two ways out of this is to legislate a lower rate (through campaigns such as these), or to create a competing platform that lowers costs for its users. Imagine if Spotify offered a lower rate for Android users... Wouldn't that send a very clear message to Apple?






Well, that's not entirely true, Apple can't exactly do what it wants. As other comments point out regarding Microsoft, Microsoft were forced to allow IE to be debundled and other competing browsers installed, because having a monopoly on a platform and using that platform to enforce anti-competitive practices is illegal under anti-trust law.

So given Apple's marketshare (not a monopoly per se though pretty substantial), and given they both control the platform that people pay money to access, and promote preferential treatment of a first party service at the expense of any third party services, it sounds pretty ripe for an anti-trust lawsuit.

The same I believe has recently been applied to Google in the EU for using its monopoly to promote its own product search results above other online stores.

The only difference now is, the teeth of anti-trust regulators are a lot more dull than they were in the 90s, for various reasons.


You've misremembered the Microsoft ruling. It wasn't about Microsoft having control over computers running Windows - that alone does not a monopoly make. What made Microsoft a monopoly was that over 95% (can't remember the exact number) of all computers were running Windows.

Apple's marketshare is nowhere close to that.


Also that was the 90s. Way more corporate money runs in the govt now so things like this are unlikely to ever happen.

Being anti competitive and being a monopoly are 2 similar but different things. What we are seeing today is the same as train Barron's of us history they control the track/os and do all they can to make it harder/costlier for others to move stuff on their tracks doesn't matter if they own all the tracks/OS or not.

Microsoft only got in trouble because they originally sold Internet Explorer as a separate product in retail stores. Then when Netscape Navigator became popular, Microsoft responded by bundling IE into Windows for no additional charge. If MS had never released IE separately but instead just made it an OS feature from the start they would have had a more defensible position.

It wasn’t just that. It was also that they went around to the OEMs and bullied them into not signing licensing deals with Netscape.

Microsoft actively and wilfilly went out to hurt Netscape. You can’t really argue Apple is doing the same with Spotify.


Apple doesn't have a monopoly, it's less than 30% of the European phone market

They have a monopoly over their own app store. It's not like Spotify can just choose to distribute their iOS app directly or through a 3rd party app store

> They have a monopoly over their own app store.

Um, of course?


Isn't that like saying a store has a monopoly over their shelves?

Except that if I don't like one store, I can always go to another. That's the case with Android, and at least to an extent with Windows (even store apps can be distributed and installed by package if you don't want to use their store, plus classic Windows apps are still a thing). With iOS, it's Apple's way or no way at all. There's no competition.

You 100% can go to another one - go to Android.

that's like saying it's impossible to have a monopoly in a country because you can just move countries.

Changing phones takes about an hour.

Changing countries is usually not even possible because of immigration restrictions. And even if you could get past that you are looking at years/decades before you are a proper citizen.

But yes they are totally the same thing.


>having to go and install by package

That’s the same as Microsoft saying you can go to Best Buy and pick up a copy of Netscape Navigator


Then use an Android device. No one is holding you down

As a developer, tell that to the users.

Speaking of which, even just developing for iOS is a painful chore compared to Android. Unfortunately when the client and the users want iPhones, folks like us have to develop for them. In this world, it's fuck or walk.


If you run a business and then complain about where your customers prefer to buy your products... you're literally complaining about the fact that you have paying customers. You're free to not support the people who keep you in business but they're then also free to not keep you in business anymore.

You might be in the wrong business.


I believe you are missing the point to my response.

as long as apple gets their 100/dev/year + 30%, that is.

it theoretically would be fine to dev for apple, if they added proper progressive web app support (or gave users the tools to build this out themselves) but of course that would hurt their interests by introducing competing (even if inferior) software distribution methods to the native effectively walled garden monopoly they have now.

It would help a lot if we weren't locked into their everything for anything. Store, dev tools, etc., it's all massively anti-third-party.

As a developer, you should be listening to your users, not telling them what to use.

Also, iOS is a treat to build on. Not sure what your source on that is, but they don't have the device and OS fragmentation of Android, to say the least.


My source is me, having to develop and manage a cross-platform mobile app (Android and iOS). Doing anything with the latter platform is an uphill struggle, from the platform itself to publishing the app. On the other hand, working with Android is pretty smooth despite the fragmentation; most issues with it are purely visual and easily fixed.

A better way to put it is that Apple has a monopoly on selling apps to iOS owners. So yes, Walmart and Apple can both have a monopoly on their "shelves", but Walmart doesn't have a monopoly on their customers. Their customers also shop at grocery stores, Best Buy, online, etc. If I don't agree with Walmart's terms my potential customers can still buy my product at any of these other stores.

The other issue here is using dominance in one market to expand into another. Walmart may sell their own branded stuff, but even then they're still a retailer buying and selling things. Compare that with Apple where building phones and selling online music subscriptions are different markets.


This is a good point -- the friction in switching from shopping at Walmart to shopping at Target, for example is pretty low (provided both exist in you local area).

The friction of switching from iPhone to Android is high for most people: purchasing an iPhone quality Android device and repurchasing apps could easily exceed $1000.


> The friction of switching from iPhone to Android is high for most people: purchasing an iPhone quality Android device and repurchasing apps could easily exceed $1000.

But...so could the cost of buying a iPhone quality iPhone (without trade in or other discount the XS Max seems to be $999 to $1499.)


This is like saying I’d like to have a Dodge Viper engine dropped into my Subaru Outback to get more HP, but that’s not the way things work. If I want Viper HP, I need to buy a Viper (or do the mods myself and accept the outcomes, ie jailbreaking)

when the store also controls the ordinance it lives in and makes shoppers approve several big red "THIS STORE IS UNSAFE" banners if they even think of shopping anywhere else, then yes, that store having a monopoly over its shelves is an issue.

But you needn't pay through the App Store to use that app (I have Spotify Premium and pay directly, and use the iOS app just fine)

To amplify your point: in fact you cannot pay for Spotify via the iOS app.

”because having a monopoly on a platform and using that platform to enforce anti-competitive practices is illegal under anti-trust law.”

I don’t think that’s what the US law says. Most platforms are proprietary, and their makers have a monopoly on them (you don’t see people complain that Tom-Tom, Volkswagen, Miele, Boeing, etc. shield of their platforms for third-party software)

What is illegal under anti-trust law is having a monopoly in a market and using that monopoly to hurt consumers.

If you want to use anti-trust law in this case, you’ll have to convince the judge that “iPhone applications” is a market, and not “smartphone applications”. Doable? Maybe.

I think (but am not sure) you will also have to show that Apple’s behviour hurts consumers (as opposed to just other companies)


Is Apple unfairly leveraging the app store the same way Microsoft leveraged IE? I don't even see this being an anti-competitive concern

> Is Apple unfairly leveraging the app store (...)

.. yes, for many of the reasons described in Spotify's microsite.

They have a monopoly, and they are unfairly favouring their own products.

This should be enough to bring anti-trust concerns to the table.


> They have a monopoly

If you redefine "monopoly" to mean "minority market share," then yes, I suppose they do.


Spotify seems to focus on IAP, but if you purchased Spotify Premium outside of IAP, it works just fine with that app.

But how would you know Spotify Premium even exists if Spotify is prohibited by Apple to make any mention of it?

Same way I know that Spotify Free exists. (ie, marketing outside of the App Store)

IIRC the iOS app promotes the desktop app, which can promote the premium plan.

I have to imagine a fair number of Google searches for "spotify remove ads", too, which can lead to an upgrade.


right, but their own app doesn't have the same restrictions. They can advertise the premium offering within the iOS app, they don;t need users to go further down a rabbit hole to find the premium offering.

I guess the crutch of Spotify's argument is that 30% is too high to charge while having their own competing app that isn't required to pay the same fees. Effectively using their unilateral control of the App Store and IAP to squeeze a third party competitor


Not every ios user has a desktop

Jesus. It's 2019. This isn't that hard. Is iOS the only way a user can discover facts about the universe?

Spotify can do this thing called "advertising". Look into it.


You’ve never even used Spotify have you ?

They advertise for Spotify Premium constantly on their free tier.


You can advertise Premium in-app. Just have to charge iOS users more than Android users.

> Imagine if Spotify offered a lower rate for Android users... Wouldn't that send a very clear message to Apple?

I believe this is also against Apple's Terms of Service. IIRC, they have a "most favored nation" clause which prohibits you from offering a lower price on a competing platform.


They did for e-books, which they got sued for and lost.

I believe they also used to have it for subscriptions to things like video services (i.e. if you offered a web price and a 'through the store' price, the store price couldn't be higher), but dropped it.


They dropped it for video, but not audio?

I don't believe they've kept it anywhere. But if Spotify sells through the App Store they'll lose all their profits to Apple's commission, to sell at the same price, or they'll have to charge appreciably more (at non-competitively high prices) for their app store customers (or raise prices everywhere and subsidize their customers acquired through the app store.)

I was just looking for this in the App Store review guidelines and I couldn't find it. https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/

How can they insist anything at all about pricing on another platforms? Even if somehow it was possible, what a about discounts; are you saying app sellers cannot have platform specific discounts? What about region sensitive pricing (I know about it on Steam where the same item is much cheaper in Bangladesh than it is in the USA, no reson why Play Store can't do it).

Seriously, I thought I had a handle on the worst apple's done and this surprised me.

1. "Subscriptions must work on all of the user’s devices where the app is available. Learn more about sharing a subscription across your apps."

2. "You must not directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase, and your general communications about other purchasing methods must not discourage use of in-app purchase."

I think this implies that the subscription must be the same for all devices and you can't treat iOS differently. Pretty sure having a lower price if you subscribe on Android would violate that second clause.


> 2. "You must not directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase, and your general communications about other purchasing methods must not discourage use of in-app purchase."

Right, the app must not say that subscribing outside of the app is cheaper.

Unless there is proof of the contrary, the statements you point to do not imply that a provider cannot charge a different rate on a different platform.


Another piece of evidence: on the site, on June 2014, they mention raising the price to 13 Euro to make up for the 30% charge. I don't think they raised the price for web subscriptions at that time.

"Imagine if Spotify offered a lower rate for Android users... Wouldn't that send a very clear message to Apple?" - That is exactly what Spotify should do. They need to use the fact that Apple is married to its platform against them. Charge Apple users 12.99 and Android users 9.99 and then beat them by offering superior content. If Apple users want to sign up online then they can get the 9.99 price.


How does Spotify do this and remain competitive with Apple's $9.99 offering. The offering Apple can make because they don't have to pay themselves a 30% cut.

Well the fact is that they can’t so long as Apple is manipulating their platform but they can encourage people to leave the Apple platform which is far more devastating to Apple than losing music subscribers

Do you think Spotify has the customers to force Apple to change because of the number of people who switch to Android for their service?

Or does Apple have the customers to kill Spotify by cutting them off?


Whether they have the numbers or not this war was inevitable from the moment Apple announced their music subscription service. Ultimately it's going to come down to who does it better and by better, I mean which one helps people find new songs the best. But I will say one thing, I have had the iPhone since the very first model and I have never been closer to abandoning IOS because its price to value ratio is quickly becoming unfavorable. Anything that tips it further is not good for Apple especially now that they are no longer disclosing iPhone sales numbers, an indicator that they are declining.

Not a fan of your iPhone being more expensive than your MacBook, are we?

> Having said this, Apple can do as they please. They control the hardware, the OS, the App Store, and the user accounts.

I disagree. Apple created the App Store and invited 3rd parties to host their apps there, so they should have to play fair for whatever the legal system deems is a good definition of fair.


> Imagine if Spotify offered a lower rate for Android users...

They already did, the 12.99 for premium was only for purchase through the App store.


> Imagine if Spotify offered a lower rate for Android users... Wouldn't that send a very clear message to Apple?

Apple shrugs and bans Spotify. Next move?


Spotify petitions EU to sanction Apple for abuse of their monopoly on the iOS platform? Which looks a bit like what they've just done...

Again. iOS is not a monopoly.

Having a monopoly over their own product is what every company has.


"iOS is not a monopoly."

I think the confusion here is that you incorrectly believe this is a necessary condition for Spotify's complaint to be upheld.


How so? I'm not very knowledgeable on antitrust law, but I do believe US regulators usually only take action on companies already having a monopoly.

Then more users switch to Android. iPhone marketshare is flat.

https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2019-02-2...


incorrect.

phone choices are inelastic. users do not drop phones and switch to a competing platform because they cannot install an app, it's the other way around. besides, with that logic you have no guarantee against ALL platforms becoming locked down (as they more or less have) to compete.


> users do not drop phones and switch to a competing platform because they cannot install an app

Well, it wasn't just an app, but that was a pretty big reason (though not the only one) for my dropping iOS.


They won't. Not only will this cut into Apple's take, but it will send a very negative message to all other service publishers.

Doesn't Spotify compete directly with Apple Music? In which case, wouldn't the message be "don't compete with us"?

Potential antitrust issues notwithstanding, it seems like such a message would be very much aligned with Apple's interests.


Since Apple Music only appeared years later the message would be closer to "Hope you never get enough success for us to compete with you".

it has been "this will" and not "this does" for the better part of a decade, I think it's time for people to realize that theory and practice are two very different things and the first does not vindicate the second.

Yeah, this does seem like a thorny issue. It feels like a shopping mall; you have this big space with a lot of people, a lot of things going on. If you didn't know what it was you could easily mistake it for a public space, but it most certainly is not.

But then you have the complication in the analogy that afaik, the landlord doesn't usually operate stores?

Similarly, at a local level, it looks pretty bad, Apple has advantages in its environment that allows it to operate in sort of unassailable ways. But indeed, if you zoom out, the big driver Apple has is millions and millions of iPhone users.

Apple has users that want its products, spotify wants market access to those users, the link imo is "do the users want spotify more than apple?". And the answer I would think is no, but then that brings up I think the reasonable issue that there's a larger barrier in switching devices than there is in switching apps. Sorry for the ramble, the whole thing seems like a mess.


Legislating consumer right to root and sideload is even better solution.

they'll argue that they already have this while blissfully ignoring the fact that they've made its barrier to entry on their platform artificially high.

> Apple can do as they please

I hope they continue to do so, in so much as I would like Apple to experience some backlash for having inconsistent stances when it comes to the app ecosystem and their rules.


I think you have made a great point. Until Spotify gives a 30% price break to Android, this just looks like a contest of who gets to keep the gouge.



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