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Apple says Spotify’s app already violates App Store rules

The implication seems to be that noncompliance will get the music-streaming service booted from the App Store.

Spotify Announces Addition Of Video To Its Streaming Services Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Apple says it rejected a new version of a Spotify’s streaming music app because it circumvents App Store rules governing in-app purchases.

In a letter to Spotify, Apple’s general counsel writes that the existing app is similarly at odds with these rules, suggesting it may be at risk of being booted from the App Store.

“As far as I can see the Spotify App currently up on the App Store is still in violation of our guidelines,” Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell wrote in a letter obtained by Recode. “I would be happy to facilitate an expeditious review and approval of your app as soon as you provide us with something that is compliant with the App Store rules.”

Apple declined comment, as did a Spotify spokesperson — through the rival music service clearly disagrees with this interpretation.

Update: Spotify spokesperson Jonathan Prince tweeted this, seeking to refute Apple’s claims that the app does an end-run around the in-app purchasing feature:

Sewell batted down Spotify’s allegations that the Cupertino tech giant rejected a new version of the music service’s app because it doesn’t want competition for Apple Music — saying that’s simply not the case.

“Our guidelines help competition, not hurt it,” Sewell wrote. “The fact that we compete has never influenced how Apple treats Spotify or other successful competitors like Google Play Music, Tidal, Amazon Music, Pandora or the numerous other apps on the App Store that distribute digital music.”

Apple pronounced itself “disappointed with the public attacks you’ve made” and argued that far from being disadvantaged, Spotify has benefitted mightily from the App Store with more than 160 million downloads since 2009.

Sewell writes that the app Spotify submitted for approval on May 26 removed the in-app purchase feature that’s required of App Store apps and replaced it with a sign-up feature that “is clearly intended to circumvent Apple’s in-app purchase rules.”

The end-run — which Sewell contends would result in users being directed to the Spotify website to subscribe — exists to avoid paying Apple its share of the revenue, which helps underwrite the cost of the App Store.

Apple recently changed how it divvies up revenue for subscriptions so developers keep more of the proceeds. The current 70-30 split (in which Apple keeps one-third of the revenue) changes to 85-15 for subscriptions of one year or longer.

The current Spotify’s app alerts users when they’ve discovered a premium feature — say, the ability to listen to music offline. They’re prompted to get a subscription that would unlock the feature.

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