Do you guys like to live in a state of constant paralyzed technophobic horror? You should read Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel, The Circle, or this article about why Gawker-squashing tech zillionaire Peter Thiel supports Donald Trump. Or, hey, just take a look at some of the recent news items about Apple: the company whose product serves as both the device on which this story was written and the device on which you are reading this story. Some highlights:
1. They’re apparently on the verge of shutting down the iTunes store, so that you’ll be reliant on subscription-based music-streaming services just as soon as you upgrade to a new iPhone. (As it happens, Apple offers just such a service for the modest fee of $10 a month!)
2. That new iPhone almost definitely won’t have a traditional headphone jack, so it will only be compatible with Apple-approved headphones. (Did you know Apple owns the biggest headphone company in the world?)
3. Just yesterday we learned Apple patented technology that can disable iPhone cameras with the flick of a switch. (So only non-iPhone users will be able to Periscope shows? Weird way to sell iPhones, but OK, as long as, like, cops can’t use it to stop people on the street from filming instances of police brutality, right? Hello?)
4. Also just yesterday, possible VP candidate/Hillary campaign surrogate Senator Elizabeth Warren railed against Apple in a speech, saying the company “has placed conditions on its rivals that make it difficult for them to offer competitive streaming services.” (This shouldn’t surprise you.)
5. Following up Warren’s speech, today, Recode tells us, “Spotify says Apple won’t approve a new version of its app because it doesn’t want competition for Apple Music.” (Apple Music, i.e., the very same streaming service mentioned way back in item #1 on this list!)
Look, this is probably for the best, as the world needs malevolent supervillains, am I right? Let’s dig into that last item. Per Recode:
In a letter sent this week to Apple’s top lawyer, Spotify says Apple is “causing grave harm to Spotify and its customers” by rejecting an update to Spotify’s iOS app.
The letter says Apple turned down a new version of the app while citing “business model rules” and demanded that Spotify use Apple’s billing system if “Spotify wants to use the app to acquire new customers and sell subscriptions.”
Of course, Apple’s billing system tacks on a monthly 30-percent tariff for third-party subscription services such as Spotify. Very often, those additional costs are passed along to the consumer. But, notes Recode:
Last fall, Spotify started a new end-run [around the 30-percent service fee] via a promotional campaign offering new subscribers the chance to get three months of the service for $0.99 — if they signed up via Spotify’s own site. This month, Spotify revived the campaign, but [Spotify general counsel Horacio] Gutierrez says Apple threatened to remove the app from its store unless Spotify stopped telling iPhone users about the promotion.
Spotify stopped advertising the promotion. But it also turned off its App Store billing option, which has led to the current dispute.
Basically, Spotify is trying to find a way to keep its users (and/or itself) from paying Apple’s really quite extreme and unnecessary service fee; Apple, meanwhile, would prefer you subscribe to Apple Music, and failing that, they would like you to pay them — Apple — to use Spotify.
You should read the whole story on Recode because you deserve to know exactly how you’re getting fucked. And…yeah, next time out, I’m buying an Android.
UPDATE: Apple has responded to Spotify’s claims.