Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Doubles Down on Apple Critiques, Calls App Store Policies ‘Harmful’

Just two weeks after Spotify CEO Daniel Ek ripped Apple for “bullying” app owners in a Nov. 30 tweet thread, the executive doubled down on his comments during an interview that aired Thursday (Dec. 15) on the streamer’s For The Record podcast. During the appearance, Ek said Apple’s controls over payments and data on its app store create an anticompetitive environment that is “harmful for the economy and consumers.”

“They continue to give themselves unfair advantages really at every turn and setting themselves up as both the referee and player in this game,” stifling competition and hurting competitors and consumers, Ek said.


A vocal critic of the iPhone maker over the years, Ek has ramped up calls against Apple’s policies in recent months. The U.S. Senate has just weeks left in its current term to pass a bill that would rein in the control Apple and Alphabet Inc.’s Google exert over their apps marketplaces.

Introduced last year by Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Richard Blumenthal along with Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, the Open App Markets Act would block app store owners from requiring app developers to use its payments platform. The bill would also ban app stores from pushing their own products over competitors’ products and permit app developers to communicate more freely with customers and open the door to apps being downloadable from more platforms.

Speaking on the podcast, Senator Blackburn said the bill is gaining support daily.

“The reason we need this is to open up the marketplace to allow more competition, to allow developers to be able to take their product directly to the consumer,” which would lower some costs for developers at a time of high inflation in the U.S., Blackburn said.

App stores run by Apple and Google have traditionally taken a cut of in-app purchases. Prior to 2016, Spotify charged users 30% more if customers upgraded to a premium subscription inside Apple’s App Store to offset Apple’s 30% fee. To save on fees, Spotify has not allowed in-app purchasing on its Apple app since 2016.

Ek threw the weight of his company behind Blackburn’s bill on the podcast, saying that Spotify believes there needs to be regulation in this space to make clear that developers or companies can interact with consumers.

“There is an enormous concentration of power where one company here [is] dictating the rules for how millions of companies should be able to conduct business,” Ek said on the podcast.

This is not the first time Ek has taken on Apple’s App Store in the regulatory arena. In 2019, Spotify filed a complaint with the European Commission against Apple, alleging that rules governing its App Store “purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience — essentially acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.