Music site Simfy lodges competition complaint against Apple over iCloud

As Apple prepared to launch on Monday an eagerly awaited service that lets consumers stream music they bought to any Apple device, a German music-streaming site has lodged an anti-trust claim against the technology giant.

Music site Simfy lodges competition complaint against Apple over iCloud
Photo: DPA

The Cologne-based company Simfy – a site similar to the well-known Spotify – lodged a complaint with Germany’s competition watchdog, the Bundeskartellamt, on Monday. Simfy claims Apple is holding back Simfy’s iPad application to protect its own web-based iCloud service, which is expected to perform a similar function.

“We have always considered Apple an important partner, but it is unacceptable for Apple to be able to control the market in this way,” Gerrit Schumann, CEO of Simfy, said in a statement. “The App Store is a key marketplace we use to reach our customers. In the meanwhile, Simfy users are rightfully complaining about the lack of this app for the iPad.

“Of course, we ourselves are true fans of Apple and its products. That is why it was so disappointing and incomprehensible to us that we have apparently been blocked intentionally for months now.”

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is set on Monday night German time to take the stage in San Francisco’s Moscone Center to launch what the company hopes will be its next great source of revenue, the cloud computing service iCloud.

The web-based service will let consumers stream music they bought to any Apple device, pitting it against rivals Google and Amazon, who have recently launched similar services.

The expansion into cloud computing is seen as crucial if the company is to stay competitive by making its iTunes even more powerful and even tougher for rivals to keep up.

Apple’s advantage is that it has cut deals with three of the four top record companies – EMI Music, Warner Music and Sony Music – to let consumers to stream music from the cloud to multiple devices without first uploading their music libraries.

Business wire service Bloomberg reported that the service will scan digital music collections and automatically mirror them in iCloud which stores the data on the web and therefore does not use up space on the user’s own computer or web-device.

Simfy spokesman Marcus von Husen told The Local that the firm had been waiting 15 weeks since it lodged its iPad app for Apple’s approval. The process shouldn’t take more than two or three weeks, he said. Simfy previously had an iPhone app approved and this took just seven or eight days, he said.

“We don’t know what has happened,” von Husen said. “All we can do is speculate that it has something to do with their own projects. Spotify had similar problems with the approval process for its iPhone application.”

Ciaran O’Leary, from the venture capital firm Earlybird, which is one of Simfy’s investors, told the technology news website The Next Web: “We know (from an Apple App Store manager) that the app approval has escalated to the highest level within Apple several weeks ago – still no response, not answering to letters from lawyers, etc – so it’s blatantly obvious they are misusing their power.”

An Apple spokesman in Germany could not be reached for comment.

The Local/djw

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French court hands Amazon €90,000-per-day fine over contracts

French authorities on Wednesday slapped a €90,000-per-day fine on e-commerce giant Amazon until it removes abusive clauses in its contracts with businesses using its platform to sell their goods.

French court hands Amazon €90,000-per-day fine over contracts

The anti-fraud Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes (DGCCRF) service said the online sales giant’s contracts with third-party sellers who use its website contain “unbalanced” clauses.

“The company Amazon Services Europe did not comply completely with an injunction it was served and it is now subject to a fine of €90,000 per day of delay” in applying the changes, the DGCCRF said in a statement.

It also urged the platform to conform with European rules on equity and transparency for firms using online platforms.

Amazon said the order would harm consumers.

“The changes imposed by the DGCCRF will stop us from effectively protecting consumers and permit bad actors to set excessive prices or spam our clients with commercial offers,” the e-commerce giant said in a statement.

“We will comply with the DGCCRF’s decision but we absolutely do not understand it and we are challenging it in court,” responded the e-commerce giant in a statement.

Amazon said the clauses that the DGCCRF has ordered removed had, for example “prevented the appearance of exorbitant prices for mask and hydroalcoholic gel during the pandemic”.

In 2019, Amazon was fined €4 million for “manifestly unbalanced” contract clauses with third-party sellers on its site in a case brought by the DGCCRF.