Apple has received a setback in an antitrust lawsuit focused on the way it takes a 30% cut of most purchases on its App Store – but this isn’t relating to Spotify’s complaint in Europe. Instead, it’s a lawsuit in the US brought on behalf of consumers, arguing that the 30% commission (which, it’s always good to remember, falls to 15% for subscription-based apps after a user has been paying for a year) is (in CNBC’s words) “an unfair use of monopoly power that results in inflated prices passed on to consumers”.
The US Supreme Court has ruled that the lawsuit can go ahead, despite Apple arguing that only app developers should be able to bring such a case. “Apple’s monopoly control has distorted the prices for apps and it’s time for that abuse of monopoly power to end,” said David Frederick, one of the attorneys bringing the case on behalf of App Store users.
For its part, Apple is digging in for the fight ahead. “We’re confident we will prevail when the facts are presented and that the App Store is not a monopoly by any metric,” said the company inn a statement. “Developers set the price they want to charge for their app and Apple has no role in that. The vast majority of apps on the App Store are free and Apple gets nothing from them. The only instance where Apple shares in revenue is if the developer chooses to sell digital services through the App Store.”
The case isn’t expected to be resolved for several years: expect Spotify to watch closely while pursuing its own complaint in Europe – and, perhaps, in the US.