Apple may have tried to block Spotify in U.S.: Parker

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, California Wed May 30, 2012 7:52pm EDT

Sean Parker attends the eG8 forum in Paris May 25, 2011. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Sean Parker attends the eG8 forum in Paris May 25, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

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RANCHO PALOS VERDES, California (Reuters) - Apple Inc may have tried to prevent Spotify, the popular music streaming service, from entering the U.S. market, according to Sean Parker, a director of the company.

Parker said Apple felt threatened by Spotify and that he had gotten indications from dealings with people inside the industry that the iPhone maker was trying to impede Spotify's expansion onto its home turf.

"There was some indication that that might have been happening," Parker said at the All Things Digital Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes on Wednesday. The early Facebook Inc investor was responding to a query by interviewer Walt Mossberg as to whether Apple had tried to keep Spotify out of the United States.

Spotify Chief Executive Daniel Ek sat beside Parker onstage during the interview. The query prompted a moment of silence and awkward glances between the duo, before Parker volunteered to answer, noting that he could "get away with saying things" that Ek could not.

Apple declined to comment on Parker's assertions.

Spotify allows consumers to listen to a catalog of millions of songs streamed online to their computers and smartphones. The six-year-old service launched in the United States last summer after delays reportedly related to licensing arrangements with music companies.

In the process of Spotify's negotiations with people in the music industry, Parker said "you hear things, people send you emails."

"There is definitely a sense in which Apple was threatened by what we were doing," said Parker, portrayed as a hard-partying programmer-cum-entrepreneur by actor Justin Timberlake in the 2010 film "The Social Network".

Parker noted that Spotify's business represents only a small part of Apple's overall business. "Even if their music store component of iTunes went away, it wouldn't be hugely significant to their bottom line."

Apple's iTunes revolutionized the music industry by letting consumers purchase individual songs for 99 cents and is the leading provider of music now.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Gary Hill)

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