Google has reached a preliminary agreement with a group of attorneys general who filed a lawsuit in 2021 accusing the company of abusing its control over Android app distribution through the Google Play store. The officials alleged that Google was using its monopoly power to unlawfully maintain its dominance, citing that 90 percent of app sales occurred through Google Play. Bloomberg has reported that the case has been referred to a judge who, if satisfied, can approve the settlement and dismiss the ongoing legal battle. This is a strategic move by Google, considering the numerous antitrust lawsuits it has faced in recent years, resulting in a €4.3 billion ($4.6 billion) fine and the possibility of its advertising business being broken up.
Not everyone is happy with the latest deal, as Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney tweeted that Epic is not included in the settlement. A game developer sued Google in 2020, claiming that Google had entered into agreements with other major game publishers to remove competing app stores. Sweeney also grumbles, as usual, about other stores asking for a cut of each store to cover the operating costs of those stores.
Epic’s lawsuit against Google is set for Nov. 6, but Sweeney tweeted, “If Google ends its payment monopoly without imposing a Google tax on third-party transactions, we’ll settle and be Google’s friend in their new era. But if the settlement just pays off the other plaintiffs, leaving Google Tax intact , we will fight forward. Consumers will only benefit if antitrust enforcement not only opens up the market, but also restores price competition.” The exact amount Google will have to pay and the necessary changes have not yet been announced, but could be announced at a hearing on October 12.