Daniel Ek calls Apple a ‘threat to the future of the internet’


Elon Musk’s recent (if one-sided, at least publicly) spat with Apple has reignited the fire in the belly of Spotify CEO Daniel Ek for criticising Apple’s platform policies.

Yesterday he published a 21-part tweetstorm that’s essentially a history not just of Spotify’s complaints, but of the wider landscape of fellow critics, regulatory investigations and politicians’ support.

“So how much longer will we look away from this threat to the future of the internet? How many more consumers will be denied choice?” was how Ek concluded, tagging in the US Commerce Department, the European Commission and the latter’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager. “There’s been a lot of talk. Talk is helpful but we need action.”

Apple has not publicly responded to Ek’s latest comments, although for balance’s sake, you can read its point-by-point response to Spotify’s original complaints in 2019 here. Ek’s frustration at the speed of various regulatory processes around the world, but particularly in Europe, is no secret. Ek met Vestager in September to urge her to move faster.

“These regulatory processes take time so, so far, I guess normal but that doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t try to accelerate them or try to make more progress,” he said at the time. Since then, audiobooks have emerged as the latest front in Spotify’s tensions with Apple.

Still, at least Ek’s campaigning has a new billionaire ally in Twitter’s owner, right? Wait just a second.

“Thanks @tim_cook for taking me around Apple’s beautiful HQ,” tweeted Musk last night, with a video clip shot there. “Good conversation. Among other things, we resolved the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from the App Store. Tim was clear that Apple never considered doing so.”

It’s not all bad news on the billionaire-support front. Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg joined Ek in reiterating his criticisms of Apple yesterday, not on Twitter but at the Dealbook conference in New York.

“I do think Apple has sort of singled themselves out as the only company that is trying to control, unilaterally, what apps get on the device and I don’t think that’s a sustainable or a good place to be,” said Zuckerberg, of the company whose changes to app-tracking policies are expected to cost Meta billions of dollars in ad revenues.

The arguments continue, although public comments like these are very much the tip of the iceberg. The real action is taking place in private: in conversations with regulators and politicians; in submissions to inquiries; and (in private at least until it’s tweeted about) on pleasant walks in Cupertino.

Written by: Stuart Dredge