When setting up an iPhone for the first time, it comes pre-installed with a set of apps in the four dock slots. Users can delete default apps like Apple Music and re-install them from the App Store if desired. Since the Apple Music app comes pre-installed in the fourth dock slot, it will always default to that location if it is re-installed. Third-party apps such as Spotify do not attempt to re-install themselves in the dock since the OS informs the dock’s behavior. This behavior results from a quirk in programming rather than an attempt to oust competitors intentionally. Apple has stated that it is a bug and the company will ‘look into it.’
According to an iOS developer, Apple Music is pushing out leading rival Spotify from the dock, but Apple denies it’s a problem. This pattern suggests that Apple is favouring its native app over Spotify. Nonetheless, developer Kevin Archer claims that this happens when any third-party software is in the dock’s fourth spot. The behaviour isn’t limited to music applications, as Apple will replace any app with a first-party replacement. However, Apple Music takes precedence on the dock and even pushes the company’s other apps out of that position.
Cook denied that his company participates in a “copy-acquire-kill” strategy, claiming that it does “not have a dominant market share in any market where we do business.” Apple insists they treat every developer on the iOS App Store fairly and that its rules are open and transparent.
The company has been defensive surrounding iOS and its App Store, particularly since antitrust complaints culminated in an investigation into whether technology juggernauts are leveraging shareholder power to stifle their competition. Among prominent tech CEOs, Apple’s Tim Cook testified before the US House Antitrust Subcommittee in 2020.
“After beginning with 500 apps, today the App Store hosts more than 1.7 million–only 60 of which are Apple software,” Cook’s official statement before the subcommittee read. “Clearly, if Apple is a gatekeeper, what we have done is open the gate wider. We want to get every app we can on the store, not keep them off.” He continued, “The App Store evolves with the times, and every change we have made has been in the direction of providing a better experience for our users and a compelling business opportunity for developers.”