Apple and Spotify are feuding again as Spotify tries to break into the audiobook market, according to reports New York times. Apple reportedly rejected the latest Spotify app update three times in the last month.
Over the years, Apple and Spotify have had a long-running dispute over Apple App Store policies, with many public disputes over app fees, subscription and app rejections due to Spotify’s attempts to exceed the up to 30 percent discount Apple takes on purchases.
Apple says Spotify is again trying to circumvent App Store rules, and the Cupertino company claims that updating Spotify audiobooks is not in line with guidelines covering how apps communicate with users about purchase options outside the App Store.
Apple agreed last year to change the App Store rule that allows developers to use communications such as email to share information methods about payment options available outside the iOS app, but Spotify is having problems trying to implement that feature. With the rule change, Spotify wanted to direct customers to buy books online to listen to in the app, rather than giving Apple a portion of audiobook sales.
It appears that Apple told Spotify that it can send emails to customers about online purchases, but Spotify is unable to offer an in-app button to request emails. The feature was designed with the involvement of Spotify’s legal team, and Apple initially agreed to the update in September, but later reversed course, rejecting subsequent updates.
Spotify designed a nine-step process for purchasing an audiobook, which involved a customer clicking on an audiobook and seeing a screen with a lock above the play button. Pressing the play button provided customers with a page where they could request information on how to purchase a book through an email, and the email provided a link to purchase the book.
An Apple spokesperson said Mac rumors That Apple “has no issues” with reader apps like Spotify that add audiobook content, but Spotify hasn’t followed Apple’s guidelines on in-app communications that direct users outside the app.
The App Store is designed to be a great business opportunity for developers, and we fully support initiatives to introduce new features in apps that provide lasting value to users. We have no problem with reader apps adding audiobook content to their apps, connecting users to websites to subscribe to services, or communicating with customers externally about alternative purchasing options. The Spotify app was rejected for not following the guidelines to include explicit in-app communications to direct out-of-app users to make digital purchases. We gave them clear instructions on how to fix the problem, and approved their application after making the changes that made it compatible.
After multiple rejections from Apple, Spotify released a version of the app that removed information on how to purchase an audiobook from Spotify, which Apple agreed to. Spotify now informs users that there is no option to purchase an audiobook in the app. “We know it’s not perfect,” Spotify says in the app script.
Spotify in 2019 filed a regulatory complaint with the European Union over Apple’s “App Store” practices, and maintains an anti-Apple “Time to Play Fair” website. Spotify has continued to meet with European regulators, but the case is far from over. Spotify has also sided with Epic Games in Epic Games’ legal battle against Apple, and is participating in the “Coalition for App Fairness” along with “Epic Games”, Tile and others unhappy with Apple’s “anti-competition” policies.
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