Google has illegal app store monopoly says jury in Epic case
A jury has just decided that Google has an illegal app store monopoly on Android. Epic Games, which sued both Apple and Google about three years ago over app store practices, has won its case against Google.
A jury found that Google turned its Google Play app store and Google Play billing into an illegal monopoly. It took the jury just a few hours before it reached the verdict.
The jury decided that Epic did prove the "existence of a relevant antitrust market". The relevant products were the Android app distribution market and the Android in-app billing services for digital goods and services transactions market worldwide, with the exception of China.
It agreed that Google acquired or maintained monopoly power by "engaging in anticompetitive conduct" in the markets and that Google's behavior did affect Epic Games negatively. The jury also found that certain agreements between Google and other companies were also "unreasonable restraint(s) of trade".
Specifically mentioned were Google's agreements with mobile device OEMs, agreements with competitors under Project Hug or Games Velocity Program, and DDA agreements.
Google paid game developers and publishers hundreds of million of Dollars under Project Hug and the Games Velocity Program to keep games on the Play Store.
When Epic Games launched Fortnite for Android, it did so outside of the Google Play Store. Android gamers could download Fortnite from Epic's website to install it on their devices. This allowed Epic to avoid Google Play's 30% fee, even though it meant that the installation process was not as straight forward.
Installation of apps from sources outside of the Google Play Store require that users allow installations from these sources. In 2020, Epic Games would publish Fortnite on the Play Store. When it introduced direct payment options to bypass store fees, Google kicked the app out of the store.
Epic calls the verdict a "win for all app developers and consumers around the world". The verdict proves that "Google’s app store practices are illegal and they abuse their monopoly to extract exorbitant fees, stifle competition and reduce innovation" according to the announcement on the official Epic Games website.
Google already mentioned that it will appeal the verdict according to The Verge.
Epic did not seek monetary damages in the case against Google. The company's main goal is to break up Google Play's hold on the Android application ecosystem to allow third-party stores to exist and thrive on Android.
Epic lost its court battle against Apple almost two years ago. A major difference between the two court cases is that Google agreed to secret revenue sharing deals, which Google internally saw as effective measures to block third-party app stores from emerging or thriving.
Google and Epic will meet in court again in January to discuss potential remedies.
Now You: what is your take on the verdict?Advertisement