EC Decides To Look At Apple

Europe’s Competition Commission is taking a look at Apple to see how it’s competing with no-fee streaming services such as those offered by Spotify and Pandora.

Photo: AP Photo
Apple CEO Tim Cook with members of U2, Cupertino, Calif.

Apparently the details of the CC probe haven’t been made clear, although one unnamed music business exec told the New York Post the EC has “a concern that big American companies are using their influence in Europe.”

The Post reckoned the concern is that services that charge up to $10 a month could be working to stop the record labels from doing business with the free or ad-supported services. Google, Spotify and Pandora all offer a free ad-supported service, although they also want customers to upgrade to a paid tier. Recent global consumer research showed 60 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds listened to a streaming service in the last month, while 21 percent made a download purchase.

Apparently the commissioners have only made it as far as sending the labels a questionnaire asking about their arrangements with Apple. It’s been suggested the CC is just concerned that Apple may try to marginalise its competition before this summer’s re-launch of its Beats Music service.

Having recently started an inquiry into the free flow of digital content across borders, the EU and its regulators appear keen to show that they’re alert to the plans of U.S. corporate players.