The state attorneys general filed another lawsuit against Google. The lawsuit marks the fourth antitrust filed against the tech company by the U.S. government enforcers in the past year. According to attorneys general from 36 states and the District of Columbia the company abused its power over app developers through its Play Store on Android. The states include Colorado, California, Iowa, New York, Nebraska, and North Carolina.
The latest lawsuit against Google is similar to a lawsuit filed against Apple’s App Store. The Cupertino-based company is also struggling to deal with legal issues.
The plaintiffs claim that the company used anticompetitive tactics to extract a 30% fee from users, who purchase subscriptions as well as digital content on their Android devices. App developers have no choice but to use the company’s software for distribution. Customers are also forced to use Android because it is the only operating system available on many handsets.
The Google Play Store distributes the vast majority of Android apps in the U.S. At the moment, no other Android store has over 5% market share. The company worked hard to eliminate other options. For instance, Google thwarted past efforts by Amazon to use its own distribution store on Android. Google maintains its position on the market by using artificial, technological, and contractual conditions it imposes on the Android ecosystem.
Google and various lawsuits
Besides the latest lawsuit, the company faces an ongoing lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice and several states. The litigants claim that Google used exclusionary contracts to ensure default status for its apps from manufacturers that used Android.
The tech giant also faces a lawsuit from a group of Republican attorneys general focused on its advertising technology business. They want to prove that Google entered an anticompetitive agreement with Facebook.
The third lawsuit prior to the latest challenge came from a bipartisan group of attorneys general. That lawsuit goes beyond the Department of Justice’s allegations of exclusionary contracts. The lawsuit alleged the company limits vertical search providers like Yelp and Tripadvisor. As a result, Yelp and Tripadvisor are struggling to reach customers.
The latest Android case contains one very interesting detail. According to the plaintiffs, Google has no incentive to offer a better service. Furthermore, no other developers or app stores have channels to reach large numbers of people. Attorneys general would like to restore competition and prevent Google from engaging in similar conduct in the future.