Senator calls for investigation of Apple’s music streaming policies

23 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Al Franken asks for Apple Music investigation that’s already happening.

Apple’s licensing terms for competing music streaming services may be raising prices for consumers, a potential unfair competition issue that should be investigated, a U.S. senator alleged Wednesday. The federal Trade Commission is investigating Apple’s newly-launched music subscription service, and Senator Al Franken is asking the Justice Department to further investigate whether the company is engaging in anticompetitive behavior.TUSTIN, Calif., July 22, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Freeze Tag (OTC:FRZT), a leading creator of mobile social games, today announced a new Apple Watch game called Black Forest™: Puzzle Tiles for Watch has launched on the Apple’s App Store for Apple Watch apps. “We’re excited to be part of the new frontier of games and apps for smart wearable devices like the Apple Watch,” said Craig Holland, CEO of Freeze Tag. “The primary purpose of this app is to provide a preview of and build interest in our upcoming hidden object game Black Forest: Hidden Object Mystery that will be launching worldwide in the coming weeks.” According to the company, Black Forest: Puzzle Tiles for Watch is the first game on the Apple Watch store that employs the “tile swap” mechanic. “While there are a few “tile sliders” available,” said Mr. The FTC investigation has been ongoing, and the agency has sent subpoenas to a number music services to gather evidence, according to a report from the Verge.

This assertion is dependent on the 30 percent cut Apple takes out of streaming service subscriptions sold through the App Store, which forces competitors like Spotify and Pandora to either charge higher rates or lose an amount in revenue equivalent to that sliced away by the cut. Al Franken called on federal regulators to look into possible Apple Music antitrust violations in the music streaming market. “Increased competition in the music-streaming market should mean that consumers will ultimately benefit through more choices of better products and at lower prices,” Franken wrote in today’s letter. “I am concerned, however, that Apple’s position as a dominant platform operator may actually undermine many of the potential consumer benefits of its entry into the market. Apple launched its streaming service, Apple Music, at the end of June, putting it in direct competition with companies including Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music, Amazon Prime Music and others. As a result, Spotify is charging consumers $13 per month within its iOS app, compared to the $10 per month it costs to sign up for Spotify on the web.

Earlier this week, The Verge reported that the FTC was subpoenaing other streaming services in an attempt to determine whether or not Apple’s behavior is anti-competitive. Officially, the agency told NBC News, “FTC investigations are non-public and we do not comment on an investigation or the existence of an investigation.” He said that the recent launch of Apple Music, a new music steaming service, has brought to light a number of restrictions that competitors face when operating on Apple devices like iPhones or iPads. Franken’s letter may not affect its investigation in any substantive way right now, but Congressional pressure could affect the commission’s decision to take action if they end up deeming Apple’s actions anti-competitive. Franken, who is from Minnesota, noted a complaint often made by streaming companies: that they are barred from putting in their app advertisement that customers can pay less if they download the app from a website instead of the Apple platform.

Based on a free-to-play business model that has propelled games like Candy Crush Saga to worldwide success, we employ state-of-the-art data analytics and proprietary technology to dynamically optimize the gaming experience for revenue generation. Such arrangements could allow Apple greater power “to dominate the subscription music sector with whatever price it chooses,” according to its letter. Players can download and enjoy our games for free, or they can purchase virtual items and additional features within the game to increase the fun factor. In the past, Apple has declined to comment to Reuters and other news organizations on the issue and did not immediately respond to requests on Wednesday.

In a separate letter also sent on Wednesday, the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog accused Apple of pressing the three big music labels to give Apple exclusive rights to artists in an effort to eradicate free ad-supported music services. “The FTC and Justice Department can ensure that Apple does not dominate the market and eliminate the free music sector by prohibiting it from entering into agreements with clauses that will give it market dominance,” the group said in their letter. – Reuters Founded by gaming industry veterans, Freeze Tag has launched several successful mobile games including the number one hit series Victorian Mysteries® and Unsolved Mystery Club®, as well as digital entertainment like Etch A Sketch®. As the digital music industry continues to evolve, we must ensure that this relatively new market allows for meaningful competition and that consumers have access to important information about the products and services available to them.

Apple charging a much lower 10% fee per month would definitely be more palatable, but perhaps Apple shouldn’t be collecting monthly fees on recurring in-app purchases at all. A one-time 30% fee on the first month for facilitating the sign-up transaction seems perfectly reasonable, and helps consumers not to get slammed with sustained high monthly fees for other services. One of the most innovative companies of our time, Apple is world-renowned for producing high-quality products and offering excellent customer service. Among other things, these agreements prevent apps from communicating important information to their users, such as why prices for the same product can vary significantly depending on the operating platform or the technology a consumer uses to make the purchase.

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