The mobile market has been hemming and hawing over the cuts that Google and Apple take for distributing mobile apps ever since Epic made its big stink over Fortnite last year. It looks like that story is having a domino effect, as a new lawsuit against Google has been filed in United States federal court. No less than thirty-six states and the District of Columbia, representing more than half the country, are suing Google for monopolistic practices.
Dozens of state attorneys general jointly filed the lawsuit in a California federal court, specifically targeting the 30% cut that Google takes for paid apps, subscriptions, and in-app purchases. This fee is the same as Apple’s, and has been since the start of the smartphone era. It’s worth noting that the suit is a case of bipartisan participation between justice officials, a rare occurrence in the current bitterly divided US political climate. Participating states include California, New York, Utah, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa and Nebraska, according to Politico.
A reckoning for the current duopoly has been on the horizon ever since Epic, publisher of the phenomenally popular and multi-platform game Fortnite, intentionally provoked both Google and Apple to kick it off their platforms by skirting around fees for game currency purchases. That resulted in an immediate lawsuit against both companies, which is still ongoing and leading to some very interesting news as a result of the discovery process. The same federal judge presiding over the Epic lawsuits, James Donato, will oversee the new multi-state suit.
Both companies have attempted to mitigate the situation with very carefully targeted cuts to those fees, and Google is going a step further by more fully embracing third-party app stores beginning with Android 12 later this year. But it looks like those attempts have fallen on deaf ears in state justice departments. Google is also facing an ongoing federal antitrust lawsuit over its search and advertising practices.
Image credit: Sora Shimazaki