ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON 11/20/21
Apple responds to story accusing it of buying ads on Google to promote App Store apps
A story on Forbes this week alleged Apple was being sneaky by purchasing Google ads for high-profile subscription apps on the App Store in order to direct web searchers away from the developers’ websites, where users could purchase commission-free subscriptions, which would reduce Apple’s cut of App Store revenue. Some companies accused Apple of placing the ads without their consent and said Google wouldn’t allow them to be deleted.
Apple, which doesn’t typically respond to reports of this nature, this time came out swinging against these complaints.
The company said it does not buy these ads in secret, but rather has been placing ads for over five years and communicates with developers about those ads. In addition, Apple said there’s nothing nefarious about its doing so. The company explained that retailers generally do buy ads for products they sell. That is, when you search for something like a winter jacket on Google, you’ll find ads from a variety of retailers selling the coat, in addition to (or instead of) ads placed by the jacket’s manufacturer. This is how online retail works, and Apple doesn’t think its ads are any different. Apple said it currently runs ads to promote more than 100 top third-party apps across ad platforms on Google, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat and Twitter.
Forbes’ report said impacted applications included Babbel, Bumble, HBO, MasterClass, Plenty of Fish and Tinder.
The report may have mischaracterized the situation, but it’s an incredible example of how bad the relationship has become between Apple and its developer community. In previous years, developers would have welcomed free advertising that drove new customers to their apps — now even that is considered a threat by some. Apple, however, contended the situation represented by the Forbes piece is not how most developers feel.
Spotify finally gets lyrics
After years of ignoring consumer demand for in-app lyrics, particularly in the U.S., Spotify announced this week it will make a new Lyrics feature available to all global users, both Free and Premium, across platforms. The feature is powered by lyrics provider Musixmatch, and expands on a prior deal Spotify had with the company to offer lyrics to users in India, Latin America and Southeast Asia.
Last year, Spotify introduced real-time lyrics that sync to the music to users in 26 worldwide markets, after initially testing the feature in 2019. This was the first time 22 of the 26 markets had ever gained any form of lyrics support, the company said at the time. That deal later expanded to 28 markets. Spotify users in Japan have also had access to lyrics through a standalone deal with SyncPower.
But users in other markets have only had access to “Behind the Lyrics,” a feature launched in 2016 in partnership with Genius which offered lyrics interspersed with trivia about the song, its meaning and the artist, as well as other commentary. Meanwhile, through Spotify’s community feedback forum, thousands of users over the years expressed to the company they would prefer a feature that provided real-time lyrics, instead of lyrics that are interrupted with facts and other background information. Finally, Spotify will sunset Behind the Lyrics and introduce just plain ol’ lyrics, it says.
The feature began rolling out this week to global users and will be available on mobile, desktop and TV.