Senator Al Franken Wants Investigation of Apple Music
Apple has decided to move into yet another market, having conquered the cellular telephone industry wholesale, carving out 92% of all smartphone profits. Now they’re moving into the streaming music sector, where they intend to offer customers access to 30 million songs for $9.99 per month. Family accounts are $14.99.
But one person in the government, author turned Senator Al Franken, thinks that Apple getting involved in streaming music could potentially be bad for consumers. The Democrat from Minnesota is calling for a deeper investigation, saying in a recent letter to the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission:
I am writing to encourage you to examine Apple’s current dealings with app developers to determine whether the company is engaging in anticompetitive behavior in the music streaming market. […] While I am encouraged to see increased competition in this market, I am concerned about certain business practices that have the potential to limit choices and raise prices for consumers.
[…] In the case of music streaming services, Apple’s licensing agreements have prevented companies from using their apps to inform users that lower prices are available through their own websites, to advertise the availability of promotional discounts, or to complete a transaction directly with a consumer within their app. These types of restrictions seem to offer no competitive benefit and may actually undermine the competitive process, to the detriment of consumers, who may end up paying substantially more than the current market price point.
It is yet to be determined if the Attorney General or the FTC will get up the nerve or need to launch an investigation into Apple. Whether or not Apple is anti-competitive would depend largely on precedents of law.
Companies are free to act within certain limits under the law, and the investigation would have to center on whether any such laws were broken. Apple’s streaming music service has been in the market for a while now, and it doesn’t seem to have a loud chorus of complaints. The company is also offering free three-month trials to App Store users.
Featured image from Gil C / Shutterstock.