Google announced yesterday that Spotify will be the first Android app to be allowed to use its own billing system instead of Google Play’s. This follows Google’s recent move to allow an additional billing system on the Google Play Store for Android users in South Korea.
“This pilot will allow a small number of participating developers to offer an additional billing option next to Google Play’s billing system and is designed to help us explore ways to offer this choice to users, while maintaining our ability to invest in the ecosystem. This is a significant milestone and the first on any major app store — whether on mobile, desktop, or game consoles,” explained Sameer Samat, Vice President, Product Management at Google.
In recent years, Google and Apple have been pressured to allow developers selling in-app purchases to use their own billing system instead of those imposed by Apple and Google. This tight control over their app stores allowed both companies to take a cut on all in-app purchases, and Apple and Google have been justifying these service fees with the inherent costs of running an app store. This is the “maintaining our ability to invest in the ecosystem” bit in Samat’s statement.
Spotify has been one of the biggest advocates for alternative payment options on mobile app stores, among with Epic Games, and the music streaming service will get the ball rolling with Google in the coming months. “Users who’ve downloaded Spotify from the Google Play Store will be presented with a choice to pay with either Spotify’s payment system or with Google Play Billing. For the first time, these two options will live side by side in the app,” the company explained today.
Overall, this announcement is an important milestone for mobile app stores, and it will be interesting to see the other companies Google will choose to trial user choice billing on the Play Store. Apple will likely be keeping a close eye on this experiment, especially after the company recently announced that it would allow developers of dating apps on the Netherlands App Store to use an alternate payment method.