Spotify has filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission over what it perceives to be anti-competitive practices, the music streaming service announced Wednesday. The company launched a website to outline its case, accusing Apple of hampering support for Spotify to give its own Apple Music service an advantage.
The website, TimeToPlayFair, claims that Apple is the reason why the HomePod smart speaker and Siri voice assistant do not offer full support for Spotify, unlike competitors like the Amazon Echo, Google Home and Sonos One:
Apple ignores users’ preferred choice of music service and instead steers them to use Apple Music exclusively. So can you ask Siri to play your favorite playlist from Spotify? No, not even if you actively want Spotify to be your default streaming service. Or can you listen to Spotify through your Apple HomePod? Sorry, no luck with that either. And by the way, Spotify is available on pretty much every other speaker device out there.
Note that it’s not strictly true that HomePod users cannot listen to Spotify at all. The company’s iPhone app can stream to the device using the AirPlay wireless protocol, and both iPhone and HomePod users can ask Siri to perform basic tasks like pausing the song and turning up the volume. It does mean HomePod users have to switch to another device to get the music started, though.
Apple Music does offer better functionality on these two devices. Users can ask Siri to put on a song, play the number one song from a certain era, or even play something to match a certain mood. It’s cool, it’s futuristic, and it’s the sort of thing Spotify can do with competing speakers.
Spotify’s complaint also covers Apple’s approach to the App Store. Spotify launched on the App Store the same year it debuted in 2008, but it’s since changed the rules to impose a 30 percent fee from subscription revenue. The company explained in its frequently asked questions page:
What Spotify has experienced with Apple has been a classic ‘bait and switch.’ When the Spotify app launched on Apple, it was a very different opportunity than it is today.
While initially refusing, Spotify later implemented the system by charging a higher price to its consumers, before opting out again in 2016. The company also claims that Apple regularly rejected its app updates for seemingly minor reasons, and only offered full offline support for its Apple Watch app in 2018.
The $349 HomePod has received praise for its high-quality sound and sleek design, but many criticize it for lacking any Bluetooth support or analogue audio input. While its restrictions on Spotify could help bring in Apple Music subscribers, it means the HomePod stands out as offering noticeably weaker support compared to the competition.