According to reports, the developer and publisher, most famous for creating Fortnite, alleges that Google’s anti-competitive conduct breaches the Australian Consumer Law as well as various sections of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth). In addition, Epic has made claims that Google abuses its control over the Android operating system (Android OS), restricting competition in payment processing and app distribution on the Google Play Store. By doing this, Google is stifling innovation, reducing consumer choice and inflating the prices of the applications distributed on their platform.
Simply put, when a developer puts their application on the Google Play Store, they are forced to use Google’s in-app payment services which take 30% commission. This means that 30% of all transactions made through apps are going straight to Google, adding to their $181.69 billion U.S. dollar revenue. To add insult to injury, Google makes it unreasonably difficult for users to download applications directly to their Android device, indirectly guiding users to go through to Google Play Store instead.
Statistics pulled from a report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission demonstrate that in Australia, almost half of the approximately 20 million smartphones across the country run on Google’s Android OS, and 90% of apps on an Android mobile are typically obtained via the Google Play Store, which makes this a pretty big bloody deal for Aussies.
“Google gives the illusion of being open by making arguments about the presence of alternative app stores on its platform or allowing direct downloading of apps from third-party providers, but in reality, these situations are so rare that they barely make a dent in the monopoly of the Android OS”, said Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney. “The barriers Google places on Android OS are real. In the case of direct downloading, it makes the process so difficult and scary that it deters users from downloading apps from third party-websites even though it is a totally normal way for users to get apps on a desktop. It’s actions like this that illustrate Google is more interested in feigning openness than delivering choice to consumers. We believe consumers have the right to install apps from sources of their choosing and developers have the right to compete in a fair marketplace,” he continued.
The battle against the web-giant has only just begun in Australia but Epic Games is already suing Google and Apple in the US, the UK and the European Union for similar discretions. It’s worth noting that interestingly, Epic Games is not seeking damages from Google nor from Apple, meaning that they are not in it for the money nor compensation in some other way. Epic has made it clear that its goal is to promote fair access and competition on digital platforms that will benefit consumers and developers.
Google is yet to comment on the allegations or legal proceedings.