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Google Accused Of Squashing Play Store Competition

Google is staring down yet another antitrust lawsuit in the US, with 36 states plus Washington DC suing the tech giant for allegedly abusing its control of Android’s Play Store.

The lawsuit filed in California is targeting the 30 per cent commission Google takes on Play Store sales, accusing the company of thwarting competition to force developers to use the Play Store so it can collect its cut.

Google has also “bought off” both Samsung to prevent the Korean manufacturer from developing its own app store, and app developers to keep them from distributing their apps outside the Play Store as Epic Games has done with Fortnite, the suit alleges.

Attorney-General Letitia James of New York – one of the states participating in the suit – has called Google the “gatekeeper” of the internet and of digital devices, and says it is using its market dominance to crush competition and rake in billions in profits.

New York Attorney-General Letitia James.

“Through its illegal conduct, the company has ensured that hundreds of millions of Android users turn to Google, and only Google, for the millions of applications they may choose to download to their phones and tablets.

“Worse yet, Google is squeezing the lifeblood out of millions of small businesses that are only seeking to compete. We are filing this lawsuit to end Google’s illegal monopoly power and finally give voice to millions of consumers and business owners,” she said.

NetChoice, an industry group representing big tech companies such as Google, has slammed the suit as a “witch hunt”, saying Google does not force its customers to use an Android ecosystem, and does employ its competitors’ software on its own infrastructure.

Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice, says the attorneys-general have “no case” and are “driving forward without the facts” to serve unspecified corporate interests.

“Google’s Android software gives cellphone makers the benefit of a free operating system rather than having to build their own. The free Android operating system powers devices such as Taxicab payments systems, Tesla cars, and even Peloton bikes.

“If successful, these AGs will make it harder and more costly for builders to use Android to power their devices,” he said.

Google is already facing three federal antitrust suits in the US, as well as an ACCC inquiry here in Australia into the dominance of its app store alongside Apple’s.

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