Google to pay $700 million to Play Store users, relax app rules for 7 years

20 Dec 2023

Google to pay $700 million to Play Store users, relax app rules for 7 years

Google has agreed to pay $700 million to users of its Play Store, following a judge’s decision in September that the tech giant is exerting illegal monopoly on Android with its Play Store and the restrictions on users.

The decision that comes on a petition filed by all 50 state attorneys general also relaxes certain restrictions on the way Google runs its store in the United States.

Accordingly, Google will make it easier for users to sideload apps on Android devices from outside the Play Store for the next seven years. It will also allow app developers to incorporate a web-based billing system within their app and restrict the use of the Play Store for payments for five years. Developers, however, will be allowed to use Play Store for informing consumers about better prices for their apps and games on other app stores

Google will also not force app developers to offer their best prices to consumers who make purchases from the Google Play Store or Google Play Billing.

Of the $700 million, Google will pay $629 to consumers who may have paid more for apps, games, and services via the Play Store. The remaining $70 million will be paid to all the states in the US as the state attorneys decide.

Google has also agreed not to press exclusive use of Play Store by smartphone makers, allow shifting of app to other stores.

Once the restrictions on Google are over, it would display the message, “Your phone currently isn’t configured to install apps from this source. Granting this source permission to install apps could place your phone and data at risk.” App developers will be free to contact users outside the Play Store.

Media streaming apps on Google Ply Store like Netflix and Spotify will not be able to inform users of better pricing from their own websites. Google, however, has not agreed to let app developers display a direct link to their website.

In an official blog post Google said it would roll out “User Choice Billing” more broadly after the court approves the settlement. 

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney called the settlement “an injustice to all Android users and developers,” as it “endorses Google’s 30 per cent monopoly rent imposition, by replacing the anticompetitive Google Play Billing tie with a new anticompetitive Google-imposed ‘user choice billing’ tie which adds a useless 26 per cent Google Tax for payments they don’t process.” 

The order was delivered by Judge James Donato, the same judge overseeing Epic case against Google. The states are seeking approval of the order by early February.


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