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Google Paid Device Makers For Play Store Exclusivity

Google quietly launched a ‘Premier Device Program’ in 2019, which offered favourable revenue share to Android phone manufacturers who exclusively used the Play Store on its devices, and blocked any third-party app store options.

This is according to newly un-redacted court documents from the Epic vs. Google case, which detail the terms of taking part in the ‘Premier’ program, such as “Google exclusivity and defaults for all key functions” in exchange for a 12 per cent share of all search revenue earned on the device.

The court documents state:

“Google began offering OEMs the chance to participate in its ‘Premier Device Program’ beginning in 2019. Google’s own documents recognise that the ‘Premier’ tier agreements mandate ‘Google exclusivity and defaults for all key functions: No apps with APK install rights’ on Premier devices, meaning that the OEM cannot install any apps with the ability to install other apps.”

On top of this, Google also gave 3-6 per cent of ‘Play spend’ revenue for the Play Store to LG and Motorola, both of whom committed 98 per cent of their devices to the scheme.

HMD Global, seller of Nokia devices committed 100 per cent of its devices, while Xiaomi, Sony, Sharp, and BBK Electronics (OnePlus, Oppo, Vivo) also participated in the program.

Confidentiality agreements prevented their Android partners from revealing their involvement in the program.

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