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Google Antitrust Trial Shifts to Jury for Decision

 |  December 11, 2023

After four weeks of intense legal battles, the Google antitrust trial focused on the company’s app store payments for Android smartphones is set to be decided by a federal court jury in San Francisco. The trial, initiated by Epic Games, the creator of the popular Fortnite video game, centers on allegations that Google’s practices within its Play Store constitute illegal consumer gouging and innovation stifling.

The trial has seen both Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Epic CEO Tim Sweeney take the stand, presenting conflicting narratives. Epic Games accuses Google of leveraging its dominance in the Android software realm to maintain a profitable payment system within its Play Store. Similar to Apple’s model for its iPhone app store, Google charges a 15-30% commission on digital transactions within apps, a practice that reaps billions in annual profits.

In response, Google defends its commission structure as essential for recouping substantial investments made in developing and distributing the Android software. The company argues that the Android ecosystem has remained competitive, pointing to alternative app stores, such as Samsung’s, as evidence of a free market, reported CBS.

Read more: Google’s US Ad Antitrust Suit Trial Date Set For March 2024

Epic Games, however, counters that Google’s purported support for competition is a façade, highlighting substantial payments made to companies like game maker Activision Blizzard to discourage the creation of rival app stores. The jury’s verdict will likely hinge on the definition of the smartphone app market. Epic contends that Google’s Play Store constitutes a de facto monopoly, driving up prices and hindering innovation, while Google paints a picture of a robust and competitive market that includes both Apple’s iPhone app store and various Android alternatives.

The trial’s focus on the smartphone app market sheds light on the complex relationship between Google and Apple, particularly in the distribution of apps. The ongoing antitrust trial in Washington further scrutinizes Google’s dominance in the online search market, with the U.S. Justice Department alleging abusive practices. This includes accusations of Google paying billions to secure its position as the default search engine on personal computers and mobile devices, including the iPhone. The verdict in the Washington trial is expected after final arguments in May.

As the San Francisco jury prepares to deliberate, the tech industry and legal observers are closely watching, as the outcome could have far-reaching implications for the regulation of app store practices and competition within the tech sector.

Source: CBS News