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Apple seeks to fend off a revised EU antitrust charge

Apple will on Friday seek to fend off a revised EU antitrust charge and possible hefty fine linked to claims it prevents music streaming companies such as Spotify from informing users of other buying options outside its App Store.

The iPhone maker will set out its arguments to senior European Commission officials and their peers at national competition agencies at a closed hearing in Brussels.

EU antitrust enforcers earlier this year boosted their case against the company’s so-called anti-steering obligations, but dropped an earlier charge against Apple’s requirement that developers use its in-app payment system.

The Commission said the anti-steering obligations breach EU rules against unfair trading conditions, a relatively novel legal argument in an antitrust case.

Apple has said there is no merit in the case triggered by a Spotify complaint in 2019, pointing to the Swedish music streaming service’s dominant market share in Europe, where Apple Music trails in third or fourth place in most EU countries.

Its other argument is that it has revised rules to allow reader apps such as Spotify and Netflix to include links to their website for sign-ups and user payments, allowing app developers to bypass its controversial 30% App Store fee.

Reader apps provide content such as e-books, video and music requiring payment at sign-up.

Spotify, which will also attend the hearing, has rejected Apple’s updated anti-steering rules, saying nothing has changed at all. It has urged a speedy decision from the Commission.

The EU executive said it never comments on possible oral hearings or on their date. Reuters

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