Charlotte Rawlings
Feb 2, 2024

Spotify campaign calls out Apple for ‘outrageous’ anti-competitive practices

Apple’s restrictions mean developers such as Spotify cannot easily promote deals and promotions on their apps.

Spotify: Work is running in London’s Leicester Square and Westminster
Spotify: Work is running in London’s Leicester Square and Westminster

Spotify is challenging Apple in a campaign highlighting the restrictions the tech giant places on app developers.

Created by Topham Guerin, “Censored” brings to people’s attention how these restrictions prevent users from being able to learn about new deals and promotions.

The campaign promotes Spotify’s offer whereby music lovers can get the Premium tier free for three months. This is available for all Free tier or new users in the UK.

Out-of-home executions appear at London sites such as a billboard in Leicester Square and bus stops (below) in Westminster.

There is a twist to the promotion as the copy alerting passers-by to the offer is redacted, while copy next to it reads: “What exactly is going on? Well, Apple stops us and others from showing you our full deals in our apps unless we pay to use Apple’s in-app payment system, which we believe is anti-competitive and ends up costing you some great offers.

“But hang in there, because we’re doing our best to change this. That means you’d see more great deals like this, delivered straight to your app. Simple.”

This is also being sent out in an email to all eligible iOS users.

“Censored” is an extension of Spotify’s “Time to play fair” campaign, which aims to tackle Apple’s "anti-competitive practices" and advocates for a fairer digital market.

April Boyd, head of global government affairs and public policy at Spotify, said: “For far too long, Apple’s anti-competitive practices have kept UK consumers in the dark about ways to save money.

“We want to show consumers what a fairer digital market should look like, with greater transparency, increased convenience and new promotions. This is why Spotify supports a strong DMCC [Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers] Bill that creates a level playing field, ensuring the UK remains a leading market for digital innovation.”

Recent polling, commissioned by Spotify, found that people back fairer digital markets, with 56% of Brits supporting the DMCC in forcing large tech companies to allow developers such as Spotify to tell their users about ways to save money.

In the EU, Spotify announced how it will change its iPhone app to include previously banned in-app sales and promotions of its own services when Europe’s new Digital Markets Act (DMA) comes into effect.

The DMA, passed last year, regulates the competition practices of tech companies, including Apple. Spotify is now calling on the European Commission to take action on Apple.

In the US, Apple attempted to impose a 27% fee for transactions made outside of an app on a developer’s website, which Spotify called “outrageous”.

Campaign UK

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