News broke yesterday of a lawsuit that the Match Group (parent company of dating apps such as Tinder, Match, and OkCupid) filed against Google over what it called “anti-competitive” behavior by imposing its own billing system via the Play Store. Google has since then responded to the allegations via a post on The Keyword, providing more insight into how the Google Play distribution platform works.
The issue stems from Google’s decision back in 2020 for all apps that sell digital goods in-app on the Play store to use its billing system, allowing Google to collect up to a 30 percent commission. Google further explained this in a blog post where they defended that decision claiming that this was a fair practice that allowed them to reinvest in the platform continuously.
We’ve always required developers who distribute their apps on Play to use Google Play’s billing system if they offer in-app purchases of digital goods, and pay a service fee from a percentage of the purchase. To be clear, this policy is only applicable to less than 3% of developers with apps on Google Play. We only collect a service fee if the developer charges users to download their app or they sell in-app digital items, and we think that is fair.Android Developers Blog
Match Group disagrees and states that Google employed a “bait-and-switch” practice by initially promising developers of popular apps that they would always have the option to offer their users alternative ways to pay for their services, but that once it held a monopoly over the market for Android app distribution, Google banned alternative in-app payment processing services on Android to monetize every in-app transaction. Furthermore, Match Group claims that Google wants to impose an “app store tax,” which will undoubtedly end up coming out of the consumers’ pockets, and claims that Google is benefitting from having access to users’ credit card information to further their monopoly on the in-app payment processing market.
Google promptly responded by calling this a “cynical campaign against Google Play” and further defended its policy on Google Play billing. Furthermore, it accused Match Group of having taken advantage of using Google Play and the distribution tools it provides in order to further their business but doesn’t want to pay for any of it. The statement went so far as accusing Match Group of wanting to “freeload” off Google’s substantial investments in the Google Play platform.
Many other developers recognize the value of Google Play and are partnering with us to grow the ecosystem in a responsible way, but Match Group is attempting to freeload off our investments rather than being a responsible partner. Now, after years of reaping the benefits of Google Play, Match Group is doing all it can to avoid paying for the enormous benefits it receives–including misusing the courts, lobbying policymakers, and even suggesting to investors that alternative billing systems would exempt them from paying for the valuable services they receive from Google Play.Android Developers Blog
We’ll have to wait and see how this all unfolds and how, if at all, government policy in and outside of the U.S. will influence the outcome. As The Verge explained, the issue of in-app payments has come under fire lately with legislation that is currently awaiting to be signed into law in the U.S. and legal battles in South Korea and the Netherlands over policies that block third-party billing services.
Source: The Verge