Apple’s streaming music could be illegal

Old Apple logo - Wikimedia CommonsApple’s music streaming business has attracted the attention of the anti-trust watchdogs in the US.

Jobs’ Mob, which has previous form for playing monopoly, is accused of treating rival streaming music apps illegally.

Apple Music provides the App Store platform for competing streaming services including Jango, Spotify, Rhapsody and others and takes a 30 percent cut of all in-app purchases for digital goods, such as music streaming subscriptions and games, sold on its platform.

However Apple appears to have managed it so that its rivals have to charge more in the App Store than they do on other platforms or erode their profit margins.

The Federal Trade Commission is looking at the problem but has not begun a formal investigation, said the three industry sources, who requested anonymity. The agency has had meetings with multiple concerned parties, one source said.

Apple arrived fashionably late on the streaming digital music scene and there were a number of rivals.

Streaming services’ chief grievances with Apple stem from the company’s 30 percent cut. To avoid it, customers can sign up for a streaming service through their Web browser, but the streaming industry sources argue that many consumers do not realize that is an option.

Google also offers a music subscription service and charges a 30 percent transaction fee in its app store, its policies for app sales have drawn less ire from rival streaming services. Industry sources say this is because the search engine places fewer restrictions on those transactions.

Apple’s critics are complaining under Section Five of the FTC Act, which prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices,” to pursue Apple.