It will soon be possible to pay in the Android version of the Spotify app outside the checkout of the Google Play Store. That is an experiment by the tech giant and it starts with the world’s most famous audio platform Spotify. The agreements come at a time when there is a lot of political pressure to relax the rules in download shops in order to create a fairer playing field.
The test will take place in a “selected number of countries” and builds on what Google (and Apple) is already required to do in South Korea under a new law. The ability to bypass the Play Store checkout will become available to a “small number of participating developers”.
‘Logical first partner’
Spotify is therefore the first party to work with. Google speaks of a “logical first partner” because it has one of the most important subscription services and is available worldwide, for a range of devices. Google goes on to say that the trial will help the company “better understand whether and how payment choices work well for users in different countries and for developers.”
It is still unclear what that means for the price of the subscription, if users can transact via another payment method. It is also not yet clear which countries and developers will participate.
In a statement, Spotify says it is on a “year-long journey” to ensure “developers have the freedom to innovate and compete on a level playing field”. This seems like a subtle reference to the company’s battle against Apple’s rules in the App Store since 2019. An investigation by the European Commission into this, following a complaint from the audio platform, is now at an advanced stage.
New legislation on the way
It is therefore striking that the announcement of the experiment comes on the eve of an expected deal between the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU Member States on the Digital Markets Act. This is far-reaching legislation with the aim of limiting the market power of tech giants and includes stricter rules for the app store. The final legislative text may come today.
In addition, there is a case between Apple and the Dutch regulator ACM on the same subject. Apple is required by the regulator to allow dating apps to offer alternative payment methods. The tech giant wants this, but sets conditions. The two parties have been at a stalemate about this for weeks: in the eyes of the ACM, Apple does not meet the requirements.
If they can’t figure it out before this weekend, Apple will again receive a penalty order of 5 million euros. This means that the maximum amount of 50 million euros has been reached and the case is entering a new phase.