Apple says Spotify wants benefits of a free app without being free

Music site Spotify has complained to European Union regulators about Apple, saying that the US tech giant is abusing its dominant position in music streaming and hurting competition. (File/AFP)
Updated 15 March 2019
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Apple says Spotify wants benefits of a free app without being free

  • Spotify said on Wednesday the company unfairly limits rivals to its own music streaming service
  • In response, Apple said it had approved and distributed nearly 200 app updates on Spotify’s behalf

Apple Inc. on Thursday responded to Spotify Technology SA’s complaint with EU antitrust regulators, saying the audio streaming service “wants all the benefits of a free app without being free.”
Spotify, launched a year after Apple unveiled its first iPhone in 2007, said on Wednesday the company unfairly limits rivals to its own music streaming service.
Apple’s control of its App Store deprived consumers of choice and rival providers of audio streaming services to the benefit of Apple Music, which began in 2015, Spotify added.
In response, Apple said it had approved and distributed nearly 200 app updates on Spotify’s behalf, resulting in over 300 million downloaded copies of the Spotify app.
“The only time we have requested adjustments is when Spotify has tried to sidestep the same rules that every other app follows,” Apple said in a statement.
“Spotify is free to build apps for — and compete on — our products and platforms, and we hope they do,” it added.
The Swedish company has launched a website, outlining different ways in which Apple uses its power to make its platform an “uneven playing field.”
In its reply, Apple has rebutted most of the points made by Spotify on the website, “Time to Play Fair.”
The company had also said Apple’s voice recognition system Siri would not let iPhone users play music from Spotify and that Apple had declined to let Spotify launch an app on its smartwatch.
The Cupertino, California-based company responded by saying that when it reached out to Spotify about Siri and AirPlay 2 support on several occasions, the Swedish company had said that they were working on it.
Spotify was not immediately available to comment on Apple’s response.


Italy endorses China’s Belt and Road plan in first for a G7 nation

Updated 58 min 3 sec ago
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Italy endorses China’s Belt and Road plan in first for a G7 nation

ROME: Italy endorsed China’s ambitious “Belt and Road” infrastructure plan on Saturday, becoming the first major Western power to back the initiative to help revive the struggling Italian economy.
Saturday’s signing ceremony was the highlight of a three-day trip to Italy by Chinese President Xi Jinping, with the two nations boosting their ties at a time when the United States is locked in a trade war with China.
The rapprochement has angered Washington and alarmed some European Union allies, who fear it could see Beijing gain access to sensitive technologies and critical transport hubs.
Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio played down such concerns, telling reporters that although Rome remained fully committed to its Western partners, it had to put Italy first when it came to commercial ties.
“This is a very important day for us, a day when Made-in-Italy has won, Italy has won and Italian companies have won,” said Di Maio, who signed the memorandum of understanding on behalf of the Italian government in a Renaissance villa.
Taking advantage of Xi’s visit, Italian firms inked deals with Chinese counterparts worth an initial 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion). Di Maio said these contracts had a potential, future value of 20 billion euros.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) lies at the heart of China’s foreign policy strategy and was incorporated into the ruling Communist Party constitution in 2017, reflecting Xi’s desire for his country to take a global leadership role.
The United States worries that it is designed to strengthen China’s military influence and could be used to spread technologies capable of spying on Western interests.
WARM WELCOME
Italy’s populist government, anxious to lift the economy out of its third recession in a decade, dismissed calls from Washington to shun the BRI and gave Xi the sort of red-carpet welcome normally reserved for its closest allies.
Some EU leaders also cautioned Italy this week against rushing into the arms of China, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying on Friday that relations with Beijing must not be based primarily on trade.
There was not even universal backing for the BRI agreement within Italy’s ruling coalition, with Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who heads the far-right League, warning against the risk of China “colonialising” Italian markets.
Salvini did not meet Xi and declined to attend a state dinner held in honor of the visiting leader on Friday.
Di Maio, who leads the 5-Star Movement, says Italy is merely playing catch up, pointing to the fact that it exports significantly less to China than either Germany or France.
Italy registered a trade deficit with China of 17.6 billion euros last year and Di Maio said the aim was to eliminate the deficit as soon as possible.
After talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Di Maio in the morning, Xi flew to the Sicilian city Palermo for a private visit on Saturday afternoon.
He is due to head to Monte Carlo on Sunday before finishing his brief tour of Europe in France, where he is due to hold talks with Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.