Google Faces a Major Multi-State Antitrust Lawsuit over Google Play Fees

Google Faces a Major Multi-State Antitrust Lawsuit over Google Play Fees

A group of 37 attorneys general filed a second-largest multi-state antitrust lawsuit against Google on Wednesday, alleging that the company violated its market power to suppress competitors and forced consumers to pay for applications that gave the company a huge cut. New York Attorney General Letitia James is leading the case alongside the Tennessee, North Carolina, and Utah Attorney Generals.

The bilateral alliance represents 36 U states of the United States, including the districts of California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia. 

James said in a press release, “Through this illegal behavior, the company has confirmed that millions of Android users will go back to Google and Google alone for the millions of apps that can choose to download to their phones and tablets.”

“Worse, Google is swallowing up millions of small businesses that just want to compete.” In December, 35 states filed a separate non-binding lawsuit against Google, alleging that the agency was involved in illegal conduct to maintain its search business monopoly. The judiciary filed its own no-confidence motion last October, focusing on the investigation.

In a new lawsuit embedded below, the bipartisan coalition states have claimed that the Google Play Store wall app uses “misleading” security warnings to keep customers and developers in the app garden. However, the fee that Google collects from the developers of the Android app is probably the meat of the case. “Google has not only acted illegally to block potential competitors from competing with its Google Play Store, it has also misappropriated app developers and customers’ own payment processing systems and then charged high fees,” said Colombia District Attorney General Carl. 

Google, like Apple, puts payment processing of all apps into Google Play billing on its own service and reaps the rewards: 30 percent less of all payments. Much of the criticism here is a lawsuit that could be made against Apple – and perhaps its imposition of more control over its own application ecosystem. Google has no iMessage equivalent exclusive application that locks users in the same way. The lawsuit alleges Google’s “exclusive power” in the app market, the elephant in the house Apple – Google’s rich direct competitor in the mobile software space.