PYMNTS MonitorEdge May 2024

Google Asks Judge to Reject Proposed Changes to App Store

Google reportedly asked a judge to reject an Epic Games proposal that would reform how the Google Play store operates.

Google said in a Thursday (May 2) court filing that the proposal “would make it nearly impossible for Google to compete,” Reuters reported Friday (May 3).

A hearing on the request for an injunction is scheduled for May 23, according to the report.

Epic Games asked the judge to require Google to make it easier for users to download apps from other sources, to give developers greater flexibility in allowing for purchases, and to enable the game developer to launch its Epic Games Store on Android, according to the report.

The game developer’s proposal is part of an antitrust fight between it and Google, in which a jury determined in 2023 that Google’s control over downloading apps on Android devices and making in-app transactions stifled competition, the report said.

Google said in its Thursday filing that a settlement it made with states and consumers in December made the remedies proposed by Epic Games unnecessary, per the report. That settlement included Google allowing more billing options for in-app purchases.

In April, Epic Games proposed that the judge require Google to allow greater competition with the Google Play store by requiring it to allow distribution by other, third-party app stores for six years; restricting Google’s dealmaking with device makers that limit the preloading of other app stores; and stopping Google from preventing apps from informing users of other, out-of-app purchasing options.

That proposal came after a federal jury determined after a months-long trial that Google Play holds a monopoly in the Android app distribution and payments market.

Epic Games initiated the lawsuit three years earlier, alleging that Google had monopolized the Android app distribution market through its 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 those of its rival, Apple.

It was reported in December that the decision could cost Google billions of dollars but that any changes could be delayed for years by a lengthy appeals process.