Google Delays Play Billing Requirement for Android In-App Purchases

Last September, Google announced that in one year’s time, all apps distributed through the Play Store would have to use Play Billing for in-app purchases, 9to5Google reported. The original target date would have been September 30, 2021, as a deadline for when all apps in the Play Store, including Google’s own, would have to use the Play Billing IAP system.

As you may recall, the Attorneys General of 36 states and Washington D.C. sued Google in an antitrust case that challenged Google’s control over its Android app store. According to Politico, the suit is the latest challenge to Google’s plan to force all app developers who use its Google Play Store to pay a 30 percent commission on sales of digital goods or services.

On July 16, 2021, Google posted information titled: “Allowing developers to apply for more time to comply with Play Payments Policy” on the Android Developers Blog. It included the following:

“…Many of our partners have been making steady progress toward the September 30 deadline. However, we continue to hear from developers all over the world that the past year has been particularly difficult, especially for those with engineering teams in regions that continue to be hard hit by the effects of the global pandemic, making it tougher than usual for them to make the technical updates related to this policy.

After carefully considering feedback from both large and small developers, we are giving developers an option to request a 6-month extension, which will give them until March 31, 2021 to comply with our Payments policy. Starting on July 22nd, developers can appeal for an extension through the Help Center and we will review each request and get back to requests as soon as possible…”

I cannot help but wonder if Google would have provided developers with a 6-month extension to comply with Google’s Payments policy if it were not facing an antitrust lawsuit. The way Google worded their offer of an extension feels misguided. Giving developers more time to comply with Google’s Play Payments Policy is not the same as giving them a choice whether or not to opt-in.