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States Go After Google Over Alleged Play Store Abuse

 |  July 7, 2021

A group of 36 states and the District of Columbia sued Google on Wednesday over claims that its mobile app store abuses its market power and forces aggressive terms on software developers, reported The New York Times.

The suit is the fourth state or federal antitrust lawsuit filed against Google since October, but the first to scrutinize the company’s lucrative app store. Utah, North Carolina, New York and Tennessee led the suit, which was filed in federal court in the Northern District of California.

Developers of mobile apps have taken issue with the way Google makes them use its own system for some payments inside their products. That system charges a 30 percent commission on top of many transactions, which the developers say forces them to charge higher prices for their services.

The lawsuit echoed those concerns, saying Google seized control of the distribution of mobile apps in its Android smartphone operating system.

“Because of Google’s anticompetitive conduct, Google Play Store’s market share — which is well over 90 percent — faces no credible threats, and market forces cannot exert pressure on its supracompetitive commissions,” the complaint said.

Google called the lawsuit “meritless” in a blog post. It said it was strange that the attorneys general had chosen to attack its Play Store instead of its rival Apple.

“Android and Google Play provide openness and choice that other platforms simply don’t,” wrote William White, senior director of public policy at Google. “This lawsuit isn’t about helping the little guy or protecting consumers. It’s about boosting a handful of major app developers who want the benefits of Google Play without paying for it.”

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