Spotify said Apple in mid-September agreed to update the audiobook. Spotify launched the feature days later, announcing the 300,000 titles it was making available.
Mark Mahaney, a Wall Street analyst who tracks Spotify for investment bank Evercore ISI, has been testing the new audiobook service. He found it cumbersome, requiring him to enter his payment information even though Spotify already had it. He complained to Paul Vogel, Spotify’s chief financial officer, in an email.
“Why is it so bad?” Mr. Mahani wrote. “And can you fix it?”
When Spotify later sent an update to the app with features unrelated to audiobooks, Apple rejected it. App Store reviewers told Spotify that viewing audiobooks, which was previously approved, violates rules that require apps to use Apple’s payment system to unlock new features, according to Spotify.
Mr. Team Zicherman changed the email customers would receive, and removed the buy button that was previously included. They replaced it with an email that gave customers a link to browse Spotify audiobook titles.
Apple refused to change Spotify days later, saying offering a button to customers to receive an email about other purchase options would be against App Store rules. An Apple spokesperson said Spotify also had an inconsistency in an external link in its app, which sent people to a different web address than the one approved by Apple. Spotify said the link had nothing to do with the audiobooks and that the issue had been fixed.
Mr. Zeicherman said his team consulted with legal staff at Spotify before deciding to exclude the email stage of the audiobook process. In its place, they asked listeners to go to the Spotify website to purchase a book.
“What we have now is actually a dead end,” said Mr. Zeicherman.
On Monday, Spotify said that Apple refused to redesign Zeicherman’s latest. He and a team of product designers, engineers and lawyers worked until early Tuesday morning on four other options. They surveyed the Spotify website and directions for more information on audiobooks, and put the onus of getting online on customers and figuring out how to complete a purchase. Spotify said the changes have been approved by Apple.
The landing page now says: “You can’t purchase in-app audiobooks.” “We know it’s not perfect.”
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