36 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing it of abusing its Play Store monopoly.
“Google engineered an open platform in the core of the Android OS, but later devised tying contracts, software anti-patterns, and a cartel relationship with [hardware makers] to lock Android down and block real competition,” Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, whose firm is also suing Google, tweeted. “It’s tragic that the ‘Don’t Be Evil’ company let it come to this.”
The suit isn’t publicly available at the time of this writing. But according to early reports, the suit centers on Google’s illegal abuse of its Play Store monopoly. As with Apple, Google is alleged to overcharge developers for purchases and subscriptions made from within mobile apps distributed through its Play Store for Android. The suit is separate from a 2020 suit, brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and several U.S. states, that targets abuses related to Google’s search and advertising monopoly.
Google, like Apple before it, has tried to head off this kind of lawsuit by proactively lowering its fees by half for most smaller developers. But Google, like Apple, moved too slowly, and that kind of pricing change will only be viewed as predatory by antitrust regulators since only an entrenched monopolist could possibly afford to suddenly lower its prices that much.
Google and Apple’s mobile stores earned a collective $143 billion in revenues in 2020, a jump of 20 percent from the previous year. The two firms have a mobile app duopoly in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.
The European Commission and the U.K. are both investigating Google for various antitrust issues as well.