Google’s App Store Is an Illegal Monopoly, Says Jury in Epic Trial

Google’s App Store Is an Illegal Monopoly, Says Jury in Epic Trial

Google lost its antitrust case against Epic Games on Monday night, where a San Francisco jury unanimously ruled the search giant maintains a monopoly with its Google Play app store.

Google and Apple kicked Fortnite off their app stores back in 2020 for selling in-game currency, V Bucks, directly to players. This was a clear violation of the app stores’ policies, in which Apple and Google both take 30 per cent of in-game sales. Fortnite publisher Epic Games sued the two tech giants for anti-competitive practices. Epic lost the Apple trial, but today’s win over Google could have serious implications.

“Today’s verdict is a win for all app developers and consumers around the world,” Epic Games said in a blog post Monday. “It proves that Google’s app store practices are illegal and they abuse their monopoly to extract exorbitant fees, stifle competition, and reduce innovation.”

The repercussions of the trial for Google are still unknown. U.S. District Judge James Donato, presiding over this case, will decide in mid-January what the outcome will be. Epic Games didn’t sue for monetary damages, but it would like Judge Donato to rule that game developers can create their own app stores and have total freedom to use their own billing system. Judge Donato, Google, and Epic will reconvene in January to decide how this impacts the Google Play ecosystem, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Google plans to challenge the verdict. The search giant claims the trial made clear that it fiercely competes with Apple and app stores on gaming consoles. “Android and Google Play provide more choice and openness than any other major mobile platform,” said Google’s VP of Government Affairs & Public Policy, Wilson White, in a statement to The Verge.

One of the anticompetitive practices Epic Games alleged in this case was Project Hug, which enticed 20 developers to not create app stores that would compete with Google Play. Google offered millions of dollars of free marketing to developers in exchange for the promise that they wouldn’t compete with its app store. League of Legends developer Riot Games was offered $US10 million to stop their in-house app store.

Another antitrust trial has yet to reach a verdict on a much bigger piece of Google’s business: search. Last month, we learned Apple gets 36 per cent of Google’s revenue from Safari, understating the importance of Google’s dominance on IOS devices. The app store antitrust loss is a big hit against Google, but we’ll have to wait until next year for a verdict on Google’s search trial, according to Vox.

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