Judge hints at Google’s plan to rein in illegal Play store monopoly

A jury in December found that Google violates US antitrust laws through transactions and payment rules that gave an unfair boost to their Google Play app store. On Thursday, a judge began laying out how Google could be forced to change its business practices as a punishment. The remedies being considered could have the biggest ever blowback to Google’s dominance of the Android world.

Fortress video game developer Epic Gamesbeat Google during the trial which saw a jury declare the Play store an illegal monopoly, is asking federal judge James Donato to ban Google from making contracts that prevent competition. Epic also wants Google to be forced to help competing stores list more apps, helping them increase competition. These changes could allow Epic to realize its long-term plan to increase revenue by processing in-game purchases in Fortress and other titles that do not use Google’s payment system and market the game through their own app stores.

Google contends that Epic’s requests will threaten user security and undermine the businesses of its partners, including Android device makers and app developers. The search firm is appealing the jury’s verdict, which could delay the implementation of any penalties for years—or nullify them altogether. But Google over the past few years has had to make some costly changes in Europe and Asia due to court losses and new laws affecting the Play store, and the trial with Epic is currently underway in Australia.

“I want to be clear: Google as an illegal monopolist will have to pay some penalties,” Donato told Epic and Google at a hearing in San Francisco on Thursday. He explained that the loss of Google required him to expand the company’s control over the Android ecosystem in a way that ended Google’s illegal monopoly and also eliminated the ill-gotten gains. from years of unfair domination.

That means big changes for the industry built around Google’s Android operating system—and possibly more choices for consumers. It could require Google to invest cash in new projects to get things right, Donato said.

Donato expressed disappointment with Google’s statement that any changes would be harmful to consumers and other businesses. “The jumping up and down and saying that the new path will become a world no one wants to live in is baseless,” he said. But he also spent hours during the hearing asking two economists, one on behalf of each company, how to come up with penalties for Google that weren’t unreasonable.

Among Epic’s demands is to prohibit Google from making outstanding agreements that discourage or discourage companies from working on alternatives to their app stores. Previously, the company had required hardware companies that wanted to offer Google Play on their devices to agree not to partner with or promote alternative app stores. That has prevented most consumers from seeing other app stores, as most device manufacturers want to offer Google’s app store, as it is the largest.

Rival app stores such as word stores Amazon And SAMSUNG has also struggled to convince developers to list their apps outside of Google Play, as maintaining apps across multiple stores takes extra effort. To even the playing field, Epic proposed that Google be given six years to give rival stores a way to list apps hosted on Google Play. That will allow people to browse alternative stores without feeling like they’re missing out on popular apps, giving the store a better chance of success in the long run.


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