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Google loses monopoly case to Fortnite maker Epic Games

Google loses monopoly case to Fortnite maker Epic Games

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Google plans to appeal the lawsuit.

In what's being hailed as a landmark verdict in the world of tech, Fortnite creator Epic Games has secured a massive win against tech giant Google.

Why? Because a US jury found Google guilty of operating an illegal monopoly - a decision that could potentially shake up the entire app industry.

The drama unfolded back in 2020 when Epic Games threw down the gauntlet, suing Google over claims that it was unlawfully muscling out competition and dominating the app store market.

The stakes? Huge. We're talking about Google's Android software here, a platform used by hundreds of millions to install apps on their smartphones.

Google, not surprisingly, is gearing up to challenge the decision.

"Android and Google Play provide more choice and openness than any other major mobile platform," said Wilson White, vice president of government affairs and public policy at Google.

"The trial made clear that we compete fiercely with Apple and its App Store, as well as app stores on Android devices and gaming consoles," he added.

"We will continue to defend the Android business model and remain deeply committed to our users, partners, and the broader Android ecosystem."

Epic chief executive Tim Sweeney welcomed the news.

"Victory over Google! After four weeks of detailed court testimony, the California jury found against the Google Play monopoly on all counts," Sweeney wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

And in a company post, Epic hailed the verdict as “a win for all app developers and consumers around the world".

This case wasn't just about Epic versus Google. It delved into the controversial 15% to 30% transaction fees that Google slaps on Android app developers. It also scrutinized how the tech giant yokes together its Play Store and billing service - a move that forces developers to use both if they want their apps in the store.

SOPA Images / Contributor / Getty

Despite Google's insistence that its fees are industry-standard and that it offers perks like security and malware protection, the ruling - if upheld - might just force Google to open up Android to more app stores, which would certainly be a significant hit to the firm’s revenue from in-app purchases. Especially since Google Play Store is one of the largest app stores globally, competing head-to-head with Apple's App Store.

As for Google’s Android operating system, which reportedly runs on around 70% of smartphones worldwide - Epic claims that a whopping 95% of Android apps go through Google Play. While it might not be as lucrative as Google's search business, the Play Store is a golden ticket to a whole heap of mobile devices.

Epic made clear its feelings on this in the lawsuit when it said that Google "suppresses innovation and choice" through a "web of secretive, anti-competitive agreements".

"Over the course of the trial we saw evidence that Google was willing to pay billions of dollars to stifle alternative app stores by paying developers to abandon their own store efforts and direct distribution plans, and offering highly lucrative agreements with device manufacturers in exchange for excluding competing app stores," Epic’s post-verdict statement said.

Regardless of whether it’s upheld or not, the verdict sends a clear message - that the tech world needs rules and regulations to ensure behemoths don’t entirely dominate the landscape.

Featured Image Credit: Credit: SOPA Images / Contributor / Anadolu / Contributor / Getty