Spotify, sideloading and the DMA

As someone with an interest in music, digital platforms and competition, the news that Spotify had put out a press release detailing their vision for the Spotify app in a post-DMA world was pretty exciting.

NB: The DMA refers to The Digital Markets Act an EU directive that will, at least from some readings of it, require Apple to allow “side loading” of apps. In other words, users of iOS will be able to install apps on their iPhones without needing to go via the App Store, much like user’s of macOS can.

There are a few things that interested me about the Spotify release:

  1. If interpretation of the DMA is put on a scale with Spotify and Apple at either ends, then this one skews heavily towards Spotify. There is no real surprise here, it’s a Spotify release after-all, but it flies in the face of the recent Epic case in the US where Apple’s implementation of the rules weren’t anywhere near what Sweeney et al. were hoping.

  2. Spotify’s policy / comms teams clearly think that getting ahead of Apple’s implementation will be important here. Get everyone excited about what the world could look like in order to build pressure on Apple when they (inevitably?) deliver some weaker implementation.

  3. The question then becomes, do people really care enough? And that’s where I am skeptical. Social Media usage has boomed despite the apparent privacy concerns and in many ways that is a much easier argument to make than “making digital markets more competitive”. Spotify is probably right to highlight price in this regard, but it doesn’t feel like a killer blow.

Assuming my line of thinking is right, this will eventually come down to enforcement at the state / federal level. And that’s going to require more legal battles and (maybe) not much change in the mean time.

For now we wait to see how Apple responds.

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My name is Dan, I'm a product manager and entrepreneur living and working in London. Check out my blog archive or read more about me.