Apple to Spotify: You're not special

Spotify accused Apple of using its App Store as a "weapon" to stifle competition. Here's Apple's response.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
Josh Miller/CNET

Is Apple trying to squash Spotify, or did Spotify merely break the rules? That's the question after Apple struck back at its streaming-music rival today.

Yesterday, Spotify got angry after Apple rejected a new update to the Spotify music app. Spotify accused Apple of using the App Store as a "weapon" to suppress rivals of its own Apple Music service. But today Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell accused Spotify of asking for "preferential treatment," according to a letter obtained by BuzzFeed.

"We find it troubling that you are asking for exemptions to the rules we apply to all developers and are publicly resorting to rumors and half-truths about our service," wrote Sewell.

According to Sewell's letter to Spotify, the new update to Spotify's app would have let new customers sign up for the streaming-music service without paying Apple an in-app subscription fee -- one of Apple's App Store rules. Since Spotify is free to download (customers pay only a subscription fee for the service), Apple theoretically wouldn't make money from Spotify if that happened.

In place of a traditional comment, Spotify head of communications Jonathan Prince offered this tweet:

Apple didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.

Recently, Apple introduced a new, lower subscription-revenue split for companies like Spotify to use. Previously, Apple took 30 percent of the proceeds from in-app subscriptions -- now it takes 30 percent to start, but reduces that rate to 15 percent after a customer has been signed up for a year.