36 State Attorneys General Sued Google for Antitrust Violations

A group of 36 states and Washington, D.C., sued Google on Wednesday in an antitrust case challenging Google’s control over its Android app store, Politico reported. The suit was filed in California federal court and led by Utah, North Carolina, Tennessee, New York, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa and Nebraska.

According to Politico, the suit is the latest challenge to the search giant’s plan to force all app developers who use its Google Play Store to play a 30 percent commission on sales of digital goods or services. The change is set to go into effect in September.

The bipartisan group of state attorneys general filed Wednesday’s case in the same court as other app store lawsuits. The case will be heard by Judge James Donato, an Obama appointee, who has scheduled a trial in Epic’s suit against Google for April 2022.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the lawsuit alleges that Google has monopolized the distribution of apps and mobile devices that run the Google-owned Android operating system, blocking competition through contracts, technical barriers, and other means.

Google responded to this lawsuit on The Keyword in a post titled: “A lawsuit that ignores choice on Android and Google Play”. It was written by Senior Director of Public Policy Wilson White.

Perhaps the most relevant paragraph from Google’s blog post is this one:

“We understand that scrutiny is appropriate, and we’re committed to engaging with regulators. But Android and Google Play provide openness and choice that other platforms simply don’t. This lawsuit isn’t about helping the little guy or protecting consumers. It’s about boosting a handful of major app developers who want the benefits of Google Play without paying for it. Doing so risks raising costs for small developers, impeding their ability to innovate and compete, and making apps across the Android ecosystem less secure for consumers.”

To me, it appears that Google is irritated that “a handful of major app developers” want to have their apps be on Google Play “without paying for it.” Something feels a little off here. Either the group of major app developers is a large group – or they are so few that they are a “handful”. I’m beginning to think this is about money.