Google slapped with antitrust lawsuit over app store management

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An assembly of attorneys general representing 36 states and the District of Columbia filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on Wednesday, claiming the company's handling of the Play Store violates U.S. law.

Filed in California federal court, the suit is led by Utah, North Carolina, Tennessee, New York, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa and Nebraska, reports Politico. It is the latest in a string of antitrust challenges against the search giant, which saw three similar actions in 2020.

In October, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a suit targeting Google's outsized power in mobile search. December saw 15 states and territories file suit against Google's advertising business, while a second action backed by 38 states and territories again took issue with the firm's search engine.

Today's antitrust suit deals with Google's Play Store fee sharing structure, which currently demands developers pay a 30% commission on sales of digital goods and services. The company recently adopted a fee schedule that drops the rate down to 15% for the first $1 million app makers earn in a year.

Google's reduced commissions came after the company said it will more strictly enforce a policy that requires developers to use its billing system for purchases made through the Play Store. The announcement sparked intense pushback from the likes of Netflix, Spotify and Match Group, which have avoided Google's commissions. That change is set to go into effect in September.

For its part, Google in a Senate hearing in April said its fee structure is in line with industry standards. Further, revenue from Play Store commissions goes toward developer tools and Android updates. Apple has made identical claims in the past as part of its many legal battles over App Store management.

Unlike users of Apple's iOS, however, Android device owners have the option of purchasing apps from other app stores or sideloading software directly from the web.

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