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In Epic Win, Jury Rules Google Holds App Store Payments Monopoly

 |  December 11, 2023

A federal jury in California has determined that Google’s mobile app store, Google Play, holds a monopoly in the Android app distribution and payments market.

This verdict, reached after a month-long trial, deals a significant blow to the tech giant in an ongoing antitrust battle with videogame developer Epic Games, reported the Wall Street Journal.

The jury found that Google Play willfully wields monopoly power through Alphabet Inc.’s Google, engaging in anticompetitive conduct. Deliberating for less than four hours, the jurors concluded that Google’s policies are unlawful, potentially putting billions of dollars in revenue generated by the app store at risk.

US District Judge James Donato, overseeing the trial, will now decide whether Google must allow alternative payment and app distribution methods outside its own store. This decision could have far-reaching implications for the Android app ecosystem.

Related: Google’s New ‘Bard’ AI Calls Google A Monopoly

Epic Games initiated the lawsuit against Google three years ago, alleging that the tech giant had monopolized the Android app distribution market through side deals with rivals and was using its resources to hinder competition. Google defended itself by asserting that its partnerships aimed to enhance the competitiveness of Android-based phones against its market rival, Apple’s iPhone.

Epic Games, widely recognized for its popular Fortnite game, stood as the sole challenger to Alphabet at the trial. This follows settlements Google recently reached with consumers, state attorneys general, and Match Group Inc., who had all raised concerns about Google Play policies in their complaints. Notably, Epic faced a similar antitrust challenge two years ago against Apple over its app store policies, which it largely lost.

The ultimate decision by Judge Donato regarding opening up Google’s app store to alternative payment and distribution methods could reshape the dynamics of the mobile app landscape, impacting both Google and the developers relying on its platform.

Source: WSJ