Google has agreed to compensate millions of its US users following a legal dispute concerning its Play Store. Accused of imposing restrictive practices and overcharging consumers in app purchases, the tech giant will disburse $700 million and introduce more competitive options for app developers and consumers.
Allegations centered on Google’s in-app payment system, where the company was purportedly taking a substantial 30% commission, stifling competition within the Android ecosystem. This settlement is a proactive step ahead of an ongoing legal battle with Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, which accused Google of monopolizing the mobile app industry.
The recent court verdict in California sided with Epic Games, highlighting Google’s practices as anti-competitive. Consequently, Google will now streamline the process for consumers to directly access apps from developers, offering an alternative payment system for in-app purchases alongside its existing structure.
Much like Apple’s App Store, Google imposes commissions ranging from 15% to 30% on app purchases. Epic Games has strongly opposed this, particularly due to its substantial revenue from Fortnite in-app sales. However, Fortnite had been absent from Apple and Google’s stores due to the company’s attempt to circumvent these policies.
State attorneys argued that Google’s commission structure inflated prices, indicating that more payment processing competition could have mitigated this rise. Court evidence revealed substantial annual profits generated from these charges.
As part of the settlement, Android app developers will have greater flexibility in presenting various payment options directly to consumers, deviating from the automatic processing through Google’s commission system.
Wilson White, Google’s VP for government affairs and public policy, emphasized that the agreement enhances Android’s flexibility, prioritizes security, and sustains Google’s competitiveness among other operating system providers.
Eligible consumers, estimated at around 102 million across the US, will receive a minimum of $2, with additional compensation based on their Play Store expenditure between August 16, 2016, and September 30, 2023.