Apple ‘is a Ruthless Bully’, Says Spotify Chief Legal Officer

iPhone on a table with airpods and the Spotify logo.

Spotify’s chief legal officer Horacio Gutierrez has accused Apple of being “a ruthless bully.” Writing in the Wall Street Journal, he said that Apple “uses its dominance to hobble competitors.”

Spotify Exec Criticizes ‘Apple’s Antisteering Provisions’

In the piece, Mr. Gutierrez hit out at the so-called Apple Tax, whereby Apple takes a 30 percent or 15 percent revenue cut from developers who sell products via the App Store. He also decried “Apple’s antisteering provisions” which stop Spotify and others from guiding users away from the iOS when they want to subscribe or buy. If they did, developers could avoid the “Apple tax.”

The Spotify exec did say that he felt the mood music is changing in his company’s favor.

I am heartened by the growing global consensus, but time is on Apple’s side. While Spotify has been successful despite Apple’s behavior, for many app developers the threat of irreparable harm is immediate. The process for putting together regulatory changes is long and laborious.

Mr. Gutierrez added that Apple can “wait it out and continue stifling innovators, many of whom will fail before they even have a chance to compete.” He also rejected Apple’s claim that  Spotify pays a 15 percent cut (the amount Apple takes on subscriptions after their first year,) of its revenue on only 0.5 percent of its subscriptions. He explained that the decision was made to remove iOS in-app purchases “because Apple’s exorbitant 30 percent tax on new subscriptions forced us to turn off in-app purchases in 2016. It made more business sense to cut iPhone and iPad users off from a path to subscriptions than to absorb the 30% cut for new ones.”

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