Google’s Anti-Trust Court Loss is Potential Boon for App Developers

Google’s federal courtroom loss to Epic Games could lower fees and increase access for developers publishing apps in the Google Play store.

Shane Snider , Senior Writer, InformationWeek

December 12, 2023

2 Min Read
Google logo seen on the smartphone placed next to the judge’s gavel.
Ascannio via Alamy Stock

Alphabet Inc’s Google suffered an epic anti-trust case loss Monday as a jury sided with “Fortnite” creator Epic Games in a lawsuit alleging Google’s Play store operated as an illegal monopoly through its fees and access restrictions.

A court filing showed that the month-long trial ended with jurors agreeing with Epic’s lawsuit on all counts. Epic said that Google’s Play store, (second only to Apple’s app store), was wrong in charging fees as high as 30% for app developers.

“[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,” Epic said in a statement on its website. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney celebrated the decision on X, formerly twitter, writing, “Victory over Google!”

Google promised to appeal the ruling. “We will continue to defend the Android business model and remain deeply committed to our users, partners, and broader Android ecosystem,” the company said in a statement.

Epic’s lawsuit included allegations that Google had illegally paired its Play store and billing services, making developers use both in order to publish apps in the store. With the ruling, Google could be made to allow more app stores on Android-powered devices, losing a potent revenue stream.

Related:Could the DOJ’s Antitrust Trial vs Google Drive More Innovation?

During the trial, Jonathan Kravis, a lawyer for Google, told jurors, “Google does not want to lose 60 million Android users to Apple every year,” and said Google had lowered its fee structure to stay competitive with the Cupertino, Calif. tech powerhouse. “This is not the behavior of a monopolist,” he contended.

Epic lodged a similar lawsuit against Apple in 2020, but a judge mostly ruled in favor of Apple. Epic has asked the US Supreme Court to revive key parts of that case.

US District Judge James Donato will now decide whether or how Google will apply the decision to its app store. Epic did not seek monetary damages, just a change in policy. The court is set to work on remedies in January.

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About the Author(s)

Shane Snider

Senior Writer, InformationWeek, InformationWeek

Shane Snider is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of industry experience. He started his career as a general assignment reporter and has covered government, business, education, technology and much more. He was a reporter for the Triangle Business Journal, Raleigh News and Observer and most recently a tech reporter for CRN. He was also a top wedding photographer for many years, traveling across the country and around the world. He lives in Raleigh with his wife and two children.

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