Timeline on Monopoly Lawsuit Regarding Google App Store
Led by the State of Utah, 36 states filed a lawsuit in 2021 against Google for monopolizing the smartphone application market. Pointing to the same conduct for which the European Union fined Google €4.1 billion, the suit alleges that Google has monopolized the Android app distribution and Android app payment systems by “artificial technological and contractual” conditions that Google imposes on its competitors.
The States say that Google, whose Android platform is the only viable mobile operating system that phone makers can license for their product, pays off manufacturers and phone carriers to discourage them from creating competing app stores. They also say Google makes phone manufacturers and carriers sign restrictive contracts that make Google Play an undeletable default presence on devices and also make it unnecessarily hard for users to download apps outside Google Play. The States also say that Google even blocks rival apps and app stores from advertising on Google properties such as its search engine and YouTube to stifle the growth of competing app stores.
The suit alleges that Google uses its illegally maintained app store monopoly to force app developers and consumers into using Google’s payment processing system for app-related transactions. With no alternative payment systems allowed in Google’s marketplace, and no competing app marketplaces for consumers or app developers to turn to, Google can impose “extravagant” fees on app transactions – amounts up to ten times the standard rate of other payment processors.
The government enforcement action has been consolidated with a number of similar, private cases brought by consumers and app developers. The States are asking the Court to stop Google’s anticompetitive behavior and are seeking financial penalties, future monitoring, and other measures to deter Google and others from repeating its actions.