Google opens Google Play Store
On June 30, Google announced on its blog an agreement with a group of American developers to avoid lengthy and costly litigation over the terms and conditions of the Google Play Store, including the fees charged. The proposed settlement, which has yet to be approved by a court, will establish a $90 million fund to support US developers who earned $2 million or less through Google Play each year from 2016 through 2021.
But more important than the monetary relief, at least to the regulatory community, are the other commitments Google is offering as part of the settlement, which comes at a crucial time when important antitrust bills are being discussed on Capitol Hill, in namely the American Innovation and Choice Online Act and the Open Application Markets Act.
The former, which seeks to impose restrictions on how online platforms can display search results or how they rank their products in their online marketplaces, appears to have gained momentum and various lawmakers have claimed that the bill could soon be submitted to the vote of the Senate.
The Open App Markets Act, which will largely affect Google and Apple’s app stores, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee vote in February, but the bill hasn’t seen the same thrust in recent months and it is not yet known when it will be sent for a full review. Senate vote. If approved, it would give app developers more power to reach their customers without control from Google and Apple. The bill would allow app developers to reach users directly, communicate with them to offer products or sales, offer alternative payment methods, bypassing Big’s own in-app payment systems. Tech, which could affect commissions paid to Apple and Google.
However, the agreement reached by Google and a group of US developers included some commitments that already go in this direction, and it could also indicate how far Google is willing to go to minimize the impact of any potential legislation affecting its Google Store. Play in the United States
For example, according to the announcement, Google will continue with a tiered pricing model, maintaining its 15% commission rate for the first $1 million in annual App Store revenue, rather than the original 30%. It should be noted that Google and Apple have already offered a reduced commission of 15% to small developers who generate less than $1 million in revenue on Google Play.
A second commitment is that Google will amend its Developer Distribution Agreement, which has been challenged in numerous courts around the world, “to make it clear that developers can continue to use contact information obtained in the app to communicate with non-app users, including on subscription offers or lower cost offers on a competing app store or developer’s website. This means that, for example, Spotify or Epic could reach their users to offer them subscriptions at a lower price on their own websites or app stores. The engagement doesn’t seem to go so far as to offer developers the ability to communicate with users in Google’s app. That’s something the Open App Markets Act could change.
Another big commitment offered by Google is the ability for people to use other app stores on their Android devices. This seems to open up Android to other app stores. However, Google added that this would be possible “while taking care not to compromise the security measures implemented by Android”, which can result in a limitation of the download of certain applications.
Although this settlement is only binding on a group of developers and must be approved by the court, it may show the way forward for Google and developers if the Open Markets App Act does not become law or until it is applicable.
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