Google loses App Store monopoly case to Epic Games

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By Carina

Epic Games, the creator of the widely played video game Fortnite, has triumphed in a significant legal battle against Google in the United States.

A jury found that Google had maintained an illegal monopoly with its app store. This verdict marks a notable victory for Epic Games in its legal crusade against major tech companies.

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Epic Games wins lawsuit against Google over App Store dominance

Epic Games initiated the lawsuit against Google in 2020, alleging that the tech giant had unfairly enforced the supremacy of its app store over competitors.

This app store is essential to millions globally, being the primary source for app installations on smartphones running Google’s Android software. Reacting to the verdict, Google announced its intention to contest the decision.

However, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney expressed satisfaction with the jury’s judgment. “Victory over Google! After four weeks of detailed court testimony, the California jury found against the Google Play monopoly on all counts,” Mr. Sweeney stated in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

He also mentioned that compensation discussions would commence in January.

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Epic Games wins month-long trial against Google, jury rules unanimously

The trial, which saw the final arguments from both companies’ lawyers on Monday, lasted over a month. The jury unanimously sided with Epic Games on all charges.

Despite the setback, Google maintains its defense of its business practices. Wilson White, Google’s vice president of government affairs and public policy, emphasized the company’s commitment to competition.

 “Android and Google Play provide more choice and openness than any other major mobile platform,” White said.

He added, “The trial made clear that we compete fiercely with Apple and its App Store, as well as app stores on Android devices and gaming consoles. We will continue to defend the Android business model and remain deeply committed to our users, partners, and the broader Android ecosystem.”

Landmark ruling in Epic Games vs. Google case could impact app developers

The legislation has significant implications for app developers, particularly regarding Google’s transaction fees of up to 30% and its requirement for developers to use its Play Store and billing service for app distribution.

If upheld, the decision could empower developers with greater control over app distribution and monetization. Google, meanwhile, argues that its fees are industry-standard and that it offers benefits like reach, security, and protection against malware.

This verdict could force Google to allow more app stores on Android devices, potentially reducing its revenue from in-app purchases.

Epic Games, which operates its app store offering third-party apps and games, is a competitor to Steam, one of the largest video game distribution platforms.

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Google Play Store’s dominance and Epic Games’ accusations

The Google Play Store, one of the world’s largest app stores, faces direct competition from Apple’s App Store. Android, which powers about 70% of smartphones globally, sees over 95% of its apps distributed through the Play Store.

While not as lucrative as Google’s search business, the Play Store grants the tech giant access to billions of mobile devices. Epic Games, in its lawsuit, accused Google of stifling innovation and choice through anti-competitive agreements.

“Over the course of the trial, we saw evidence that Google was willing to pay billions of dollars to stifle alternative app stores by paying developers to abandon their own store efforts and direct distribution plans and offering highly lucrative agreements with device manufacturers in exchange for excluding competing app stores,” Epic Games stated following the verdict.

Google countersues Epic Games in ongoing antitrust cases

Google, facing several anti-trust cases, had countersued Epic Games for allegedly violating its developer agreement. Before this trial, Google settled similar claims from dating app Match.

Epic Games also filed an antitrust case against Apple in 2020, but the US judge mostly ruled in favor of Apple in 2021, a decision Epic challenged in 2022.

“The evidence presented in this case demonstrates the urgent need for legislation and regulations that address Apple and Google strangleholds over smartphones,” Epic Games concluded in its statement.

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