Spotify’s warfare on Apple simply reached a fevered pitch. After a PR blitz that attacked Apple’s App Store ‘tax’ and ‘unfair advantage’ within the music streaming market, Apple has responded with a prolonged assertion merely titled, ”Addressing Spotify’s claims.”
Unlike Steve Jobs’s famous “Thoughts on Music,” which was written in response to Apple’s HonestPlay digital rights administration system, this assertion isn’t signed by Tim Cook or Eddie Cue or every other Apple govt. Despite using the editorial “we” all through, it very a lot reads like a legal-approved PR assertion, fastidiously selecting aside every of Spotify’s claims with a sequence of bullet factors.
Apple makes loads of good and legitimate factors, even when they’re sandwiched between unnecessarily bombastic language. The first few paragraphs are dedicated to Apple’s love of music, the iTunes Store revolution, and the billions of dollars it’s paid to builders. It units Apple up as a benevolent drive for good within the digital house and evens consists of this sentence, “We want more app businesses to thrive—including the ones that compete with some aspect of our business, because they drive us to be better.”
However, that’s the final time the assertion even alludes to Apple Music, Apple’s competing streaming service that was launched years after Spotify began promoting its personal streaming service within the App Store. In truth, the phrases “Apple” and “Music” by no means seem facet by facet in the entire piece. And with out addressing that Spotify is a direct competitor to Apple Music on each Apple machine, it’s laborious to take the argument critically.
When Steve Jobs wrote “Thoughts on Music,” it was clear it was coming from him. It was written in plain language and had a heartfelt tone. He each defined Apple’s use of DRM in easy phrases and laid out an answer going ahead. He mentioned the iPod and Apple’s aggressive benefit with the iPod, but additionally laid out how Apple was keen to bend on its phrases. Apple’s assertion does no such factor.
Rather, it assaults Spotify for daring to query App Store insurance policies and performs dumb when Spotify calls out how Apple locks third-party apps from utilizing sure key options of its product: “We found Spotify’s claims about Apple Watch especially surprising. When Spotify submitted their Apple Watch app in September 2018, we reviewed and approved it with the same process and speed with which we would any other app. In fact, the Spotify Watch app is currently the No. 1 app in the Watch Music category.”
That could also be true, however Apple fails to say that third-party apps can’t use Siri to search out music or stream over LTE. The most important purpose why the Spotify Apple Watch app is mainly a glorified distant management is as a result of solely Apple Music is ready to use Siri to discover a tune, and iPhone-less streaming is extraordinarily restricted for third-party apps. Even if Spotify had been so as to add assist for offline streaming, songs and playlists have to be synced and saved on an Apple Watch to be performed, which is a ache. And it stays to be seen if Apple will permit every other music apps to stream over LTE.
Apple additionally says it has “reached out to Spotify about Siri and AirPlay 2 support on several occasions,” which is an attention-grabbing assertion. Presumably Apple is referring to iOS 12’s “Play Media” command, which lets third-party apps faucet into Shortcuts to supply restricted controls for third-party music and video apps. But whereas Spotify might technically add assist for enjoying, skipping, and pausing tracks, total streaming performance is extraordinarily restricted with regards to Siri except you’re utilizing Apple Music. And HomePod is out of the query.
And then there’s the principle problem at stake: cost. Apple’s claims that “Spotify wants all the benefits of a free app without being free” smacks of dishonesty. Why? Because that’s precisely what Apple is getting with Apple Music. And Apple seemingly isn’t self-aware sufficient to see it.
A strategic response
Apple would possibly spell out all of the explanation why it thinks Spotify’s argument is specious, however it fails to offer any precise options to the issue, which can solely be exasperated when Apple launches its personal video streaming service later this month. It dings Spotify for failing to say that the 30 p.c income share drops to 15 p.c after the primary 12 months of an annual subscription, however doesn’t provide any concessions on its phrases.
There’s undoubtedly a center floor right here that Apple fails to even try to achieve. Apple talks about Spotify’s tens of millions of free prospects and fortunately factors out that it’s at present concerned in a courtroom case over artist royalties, however it by no means presents an precise answer. Apple doesn’t cost a charge to apps that promote “physical goods,” so Uber and DoorDash aren’t dinged like Spotify is. So, Apple might cap charges for recurring subscriptions, decrease the speed additional for multi-year subscribers, or just eradicate the charge altogether with out making the App Store any extra unlevel than it’s now.
Plus, it’s laborious to not learn Apple’s assertion and surprise concerning the future. Yes, I do know it’s immediately responding to Spotify’s accusations made earlier this week, however it’s no secret that Apple will likely be launching its personal video service later this month. And there’s little doubt that Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and everybody else can have the identical argument.
In truth, Netflix has already eliminated the power to enroll in the service by way of iTunes. Instead, customers are directed to the Netflix web site to keep away from having to pay Apple’s minimize. Netflix is sufficiently big the place it will probably afford to do this. Spotify isn’t.
Neither is Hulu, the corporate that Spotify simply teamed up with to supply a bundled $10-a-month service that provides entry to each premium providers. That’s a risk to Apple’s deliberate launch, and the Spotify assertion appears to be a strategy to publicly get out in entrance of the difficulty earlier than the anti-trust arrows begin flying. So I can’t assist however surprise if Apple could be enjoying a special tune if it didn’t have a video service ready to launch.
Apple might want us to imagine that it’s being unfairly focusing on by Spotify and that the App Store is essentially chargeable for Spotify’s success, however the truth stays that Apple will get paid each time somebody subscribes to Apple Music or Spotify on their iPhone. And if Apple goes to battle to maintain issues that approach, the very least it might do is acknowledge it. You know, like Steve Jobs would have performed.