Google and app developers settle for $90 million from tech giant in in-store dispute

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By Brian Fung, CNN

US Android app developers will be able to claim money from a new $90 million fund that Google will establish as part of a broader deal with app makers over app store practices. tech giant’s apps, the company said.

The proposed settlement disclosed on June 30 is designed to address years-long claims by app developers that Google (GOOGL) imposes onerous and anti-competitive restrictions on app makers as a condition of hosting their apps on its Google Play. Store.

“A large majority of US developers who have earned revenue through Google Play will be eligible to receive money from this fund, if they so choose, Google said in a blog post announcing the deal, which is open. to app makers who earned $2 million or less per year on the Google Play Store between 2016 and 2021.

The deal, which includes several other provisions aimed at benefiting smaller app makers, marks another shift in the long-running tussle between big tech platforms with significant power to determine which apps end up on mobile devices. consumer smartphones and the application developers who provide the software.

App developers have previously objected to the amount of money Apple and Google charge them as a cut to their app revenue. Both companies claimed that their app stores provide an important service and that the platforms have amply rewarded app developers as a whole.

Under the settlement announced Thursday, Google said it would continue a pricing model established last year that allows US app developers to pay a lower fee, 15%, for the first $1 million in annual revenue. collected from the Google Play Store.

Google said it would also clarify a commitment that it would not prevent app developers from trying to contact app users through email addresses or phone numbers collected through apps, “including understood about subscription offers or lower cost offers on a competitor’s app store or the developer’s website.”

This issue exploded into public view in 2020 when the Fortnite video game was removed from the Apple App Store to inform gamers that they could purchase in-game currency at a discount on the Fortnite website. publisher Epic Games, in a deliberate circumvention of Apple’s development policies. The ensuing contract dispute culminated in a major antitrust lawsuit that led to a legal victory for Apple, although an appeal is pending.

In May, dating app giant Match Group sued Google over a number of its app store policies, including its in-app payment policies and marketplace fees. (In a response at the time, Google said Match Group was simply trying not to pay for services provided by Google as part of its platform.)

Match has also been a vocal critic of Google in Congress, where some lawmakers have proposed legislation to force Apple and Google to compete with rival app stores and to enable “sideloading,” or the ability for users to install apps from unofficial sources. (Google’s Android operating system already supports sideloading, but Apple’s iOS does not.) Apple in particular has warned that the legislation could endanger users by opening up iOS devices to software whose society cannot assess safety.

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