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Dozens of states target Google’s App Store in antitrust suit


Dozens of states are taking aim at Google in a growing legal attack on Big Tech. A lawsuit filed late Wednesday targets Google’s Play Store, where consumers download apps designed for the Android software that powers most of the world’s smartphones

San Ramon, Calif. Dozens of states are targeting Google in a growing legal attack on Big Tech.

This time, the attorney generals of 36 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit targeting Google’s Play Store, where consumers download apps designed for the Android software that powers most of the world’s smartphones.

The 144-page complaint filed late Wednesday in federal court in Northern California represents the fourth major antitrust lawsuit filed against Google by government agencies across the US since last October.

Most of the latest lawsuits echo similar allegations that mobile game maker Epic Games has made against both Google and Apple, which runs a separate app store exclusively for iPhones, in cases brought last August.

As Epic did, the states’ lawsuit focuses primarily on Google’s control over its App Store, so it can collect commissions of up to 30% on digital transactions within apps installed on smartphones running Android. . Those devices represent over 80% of the worldwide smartphone market.

A high-profile trial of Epic – the maker of the widely played Fortnite video game – against Apple concluded in late May. The decision of the federal judge presiding over the month-long proceedings is expected later this summer. Epic’s lawsuit against Google still awaits trial.

Although its app commissions are similar to Apple’s, Google has tried to differentiate itself by allowing consumers to download apps from places other than its Play Store. Apple, in contrast, does not allow iPhone users to install apps from an outlet other than its store.

But Google’s claims in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that its Android software is an open operating system that gives consumers more choices are a sham.

The complaint claims that Google has deployed various tactics to ensure that it distributes more than 90% of its apps on Android devices, a market share that the attorney general argues is an illegal monopoly. represents. What’s more, the lawsuit alleges that Google is abusing that power to take advantage of billions of dollars at the expense of consumers who pay high prices to subsidize commissions, and the app’s creators. Those who have less money and incentive to innovate.

“Google’s monopoly is a threat to the market,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who is leading the trial with his peers in New York, Tennessee and North Carolina. “Google Play is not fair game. Google must be held accountable for the harm it is doing to small businesses and consumers.”

Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for lawsuit, but it has strongly defended the way it runs its Play Store in response to the Epic lawsuit and in other instances.

The Mountain View, Calif., company is also fighting three other lawsuits that were filed against it last year, including a landmark case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice. Those cases center on alleged abuse of Google’s flagship search engine and its digital advertising network that generates more than $100 billion in annual revenue for its corporate parent, Alphabet Inc.

As the investigation into their App Store intensifies, both Apple and Google are taking reconciliation steps. Most notably, both have reduced their commissions by 15% on the first $1 million of revenue collected by app makers — a reduction that covers most apps in their respective stores.

But those measures haven’t turned the heat on any major tech companies, nor should they, said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota who chairs a subcommittee that oversees antitrust issues.

“This is exactly the type of aggressive antitrust enforcement that we need to rein in the power of big tech and address America’s monopoly problem,” she said in a statement.

But fighting Big Tech won’t be easy. In addition to being able to spend heavily to lobby for their positions, companies also argue that they have the law. Facebook, for example, scored a major victory last week, when a federal judge dismissed an antitrust lawsuit against the social media company by the Federal Trade Commission and a coalition of states on the grounds that they dismissed allegations of its monopoly. Sufficient evidence was not submitted to return it. .

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Dozens of states target Google’s App Store in antitrust suit