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Apple May Have Surpassed Spotify When it Comes to U.S. Subscribers

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Apple Music has officially by-passed Spotify when it comes to subscribers in the United States. Both companies only give worldwide subscriber figures, but sources who are alleged to be close with both companies revealed that Apple Music had 28 million paid subscribers, whereas Spotify only had 26 million. Does this mean anything, or is this just the way that the market works? Or is there more to it?

This particular report comes as the battle between these two music streaming giants continues. Last month, Spotify announced that it had filed a complaint with European Commission regulators stating that Apple’s 30% tax on in-app purchases made through their iOS platform was unfair and gives Apple’s services a distinct advantage. This system forced Spotify to raise their prices in Europe, but this came a year before Apple Music even implemented their $9.99 monthly price. Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek wrote this in a blog post:

“Apple requires that Spotify and other digital services pay a 30% tax on purchases made through Apple’s payment system, including upgrading from our Free to our Premium service. If we pay this tax, it would force us to artificially inflate the price of our Premium membership well above the price of Apple Music. And to keep our price competitive for our customers, that isn’t something we can do.” 

Does Apple’s system actually give them an unfair advantage? As a result of the competition, Spotify has tried to circumvent Apple’s system by directing users to their website, where transactions wouldn’t be subjected to Apple’s commission fee. Of course, Apple wasn’t too keen on this strategy and has responded by taking a long time to approve new versions of Spotify’s iOS app. Experts believe that Spotify does have a good case in Europe, but they European Commission has yet to respond.

These numbers only reflect paid subscribers in the United States. Overall, Spotify is still winning with 207 million active users globally. Of those 207 million users, 96 million users are paid subscribers or are currently using a trial version, which will lead to a subscription. Spotify is also at an advantage, because it offers a free, version. Yes, the free version includes ads, but if it’s a good way to get users to your service. Globally, Apple only has 50 million paid subscribers, which means, more than half of Apple Music’s subscribers come from the United States.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, should it? I mean, Apple certainly dominates in North America, and more specifically the United States, but they’re not as popular globally. We also know that Apple is shifting its strategy a bit when it comes to sales. Moving away from hardware to looking at the services they provide. Which is why we weren’t surprised when Apple announced their new TV streaming service, as well as their news and magazine services, and their gaming service.

I also think that its great that there are two companies who are providing a similar service so that people have choices. Spotify shouldn’t be the only one who offers music, but neither should Apple. Technology companies often buy up the little guys, in order to ensure that they remain as the only option for a particular service. All that said, a little competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing.