Says Google Illegally Maintains an App Store Monopoly; Unfairly Edges Out Competition
Arkansas Attorney General Rutledge announced a coalition of 37 states’ attorneys general filed a lawsuit against Google in California. The suit alleges exclusionary conduct relating to the Google Play Store for Android mobile devices and Google Billing. This antitrust lawsuit is the most recent legal action against the tech giant; claiming illegal, anticompetitive, and unfair business practices. The States accuse Google of using its dominance to unfairly restrict competition with the Google Play Store, harming consumers by limiting choice and driving up app prices.
“Google stifled competition in the app store marketplace and inflated rates for app purchases to monopolize the market on the Play Store forcing Arkansans to pay more,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Arkansans deserve all options and not just those which a monopoly puts in front of them.”
According to the lawsuit, the heart of the case centers on Google’s exclusionary conduct, which substantially shuts out competing app distribution channels. Google also requires app developers that offer their apps through the Google Play Store use Google Billing as a middleman. This arrangement, which ties a payment processing system to an app distribution channel forces app consumers to pay Google’s commission—up to 30%—on in-app purchases of digital content made by consumers through apps that are distributed via the Google Play Store. In addition, Google promised app developers and device manufacturers that it would keep Android “open source,” allowing developers to create compatible apps and distribute them without unnecessary restrictions. The lawsuit says Google did not keep that promise.
The lawsuit Rutledge has signed on to is led by attorneys general from Utah, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee. States joining the lawsuit include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.