U.S. regulators are reportedly looking into whether Apple is taking advantage of its power to put streaming rivals like Spotify at a disadvantage. Fred Katayama reports.
Apple faces the risk of possibly missing a beat. Bloomberg reports that U.S. regulators are looking into whether the owner of Beats Music and iTunes is taking advantage of its power as the top seller of music downloads to put rivals like Spotify at a disadvantage. This comes just as Apple gears up to put out a new version of the subscription-based Beats streaming service that it acquired last year. Bloomberg says the FTC is asking if Apple's efforts will curtail free ad-supported music and push more songs into paid service at higher rates. Music industry execs say Apple hasn't made such demands, according to the report. But The Verge revealed earlier this week that the company has been pushing the music labels to force streaming services to abandon their free tiers. That could help Beats gain new users. Apple couldn't be reached for an immediate comment. The company lost an antitrust case two years ago that found it had conspired with publishers to raise e-book prices. BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis said, "Anytime you have a company with the heft and resources that Apple does and the ability to dominate a market position, there are going to be distinctions that regulators are likely going to want to watch closely." Apple's shares fell in early trading. Apple is investing in Beats to take on Spotify and other music-streaming services just as download sales from sites like iTunes are falling.