Google sued by states in the U.S. over the Play Store

U.S. antitrust enforcers challenged the mobile app store for the first time, accusing Google Developers who sell through the Play Store built into the Android operating system charge too much.

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Federal Court on Wednesday, is the fourth lawsuit against the American search giant in less than a year and the first lawsuit against the smartphone platform of today’s consumer technology center.

So far, Google has received less public criticism than Apple for the fees it charges mobile app developers and the restrictions that prevent developers from avoiding fees. Apple’s App Store has always been a high-profile subject Private antitrust case From epic games.

The case was led by Utah, including 35 other states in the United States and the District of Columbia, Blame Google “Illegal restriction of trade and maintaining monopoly” in the Android application distribution market and the Android application payment market.

Google denied this claim, saying that it is “incorrect” that developers and Android users are forced to use the Play Store. It also indirectly attacked Apple’s own, stricter App Store policies.

Later on Wednesday, Google’s senior director of public policy Wilson White stated in a blog post, “It’s strange that a group of state attorneys choose to file a lawsuit and attack a system that offers more openness and choice than other systems.”

States may face an uphill battle in convincing the court that the search giant has a dominant position in the way mobile apps are sold. According to data from StatCounter, Android only accounts for 46% of the US smartphone market, while Apple’s iOS accounts for 53%. The difficulty of proving market dominance is seen as one of Epic’s biggest obstacles to prosecuting Apple.

As a sign that U.S. regulators are responding to the challenges faced by tech giants under existing antitrust laws, The case against Facebook Last week, a US judge rejected the Federal Trade Commission’s ruling, partly because regulators failed to adequately define the market the company allegedly dominated. The European Union has decided that it needs an ambitious new law, the Digital Market Act, to break the power of dominant digital platforms, including smartphone app stores.

To prove their point, the states insist that the Android smartphone platform is part of the freely licensed mobile operating system market, which excludes Apple’s iOS. The complaint claims that Android occupies 99% of this market, and Google has adopted “anti-competitive strategies to reduce and inhibit competition in the distribution of Android applications”, enabling it to charge up to 30% of “luxury” commissions.

Google has always believed that, compared with Apple’s competitor iPhone platform, Android application sales are more open to competition because it allows competitors’ application stores to coexist with its own Play Store.

White also challenged the attempts of states to narrowly define the app market to justify its reasons, saying that it “completely ignored the competition we face from other platforms, such as Apple’s very successful app store.”

The states stated in their complaints that they tried to define Google’s operating system as an almost independent market, rather than directly competing with the iPhone. This makes sense: “Android is the only viable operating system that can be approved by mobile device manufacturers. Get to market and sell their equipment to American consumers.”

They added that Google used this to illegally profit from its own Play Store, closed other Android application distribution channels, and forced developers to use the Play Store’s payment system, thereby triggering automatic commissions.

Paul Gallant, an analyst at Cowen, said that the state’s decision to accept Google instead of Apple may reflect the fact that the investigation is more in-depth. U.S. state and federal regulators may eventually apply the two companies. The store filed a complaint. He added that, if anything, Google is more “developer-friendly” than Apple because it allows rival app stores and also allows Android users to sideload apps or download them directly instead of through the app store.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said that Google used its “monopoly power and super-dominant market position to illegally use billions of dollars from small companies, competitors, and consumers in excess of what should be paid. Amount”.

In December last year, nearly 40 attorneys general sued the company, accusing the company of illegally abusing its search monopoly. Prior to this, a small number of Republican states filed complaints about the company’s advertising technology. Google also faces a search-related complaint from the Department of Justice.

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