February 24, 2024

In a recent antitrust trial, Epic Games, the creator of “Fortnite,” has emerged victorious over Google, as jurors ruled in its favor on all counts. The legal battle alleged that Google’s Play app store functioned as an illegal monopoly.

This led them to stifle competition and impose high fees of up to 30% on app developers. The verdict, if upheld, has the potential to disrupt the entire app store economy.

Potential Disruption to the App Store Economy

Google and Apple operate one of the world’s largest app stores. The Epic Games vs. Google antitrust trial could reshape the relationship between app developers and platform operators. 

As such, a favorable ruling for Epic could empower developers. This will offer them greater control over app distribution and profitability.

However, facing a stunning defeat, Google has expressed its intention to appeal the decision. The Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy at Google, Wilson White, affirmed their commitment to defending the Android business model. 

The appeal process is set to unfold as the court prepares to determine the appropriate remedies, starting in January. Epic’s accusations included illegal tying of the Play Store and billing service, compelling developers to use both for inclusion in the store. 

The potential consequences for Google include the requirement to allow more app stores on Android devices, potentially leading to a loss of revenue from in-app purchases.

The trial highlighted allegations that Google systematically blocked alternative app stores on its Play store, limiting competition. 

Epic argued that the verdict demonstrates the illegality of Google’s app store practices. It accused the tech giant of abusing its monopoly power to extract excessive fees, stifle competition, and hinder innovation.

A striking issue among the allegations was the claim that Google had a system for deleting texts and internal messages to conceal anticompetitive behavior. 

Epic’s attorney suggested that the content of the deleted messages would have been unfavorable to Google. However, Google denied wrongdoing, maintaining that it competes fiercely against Apple’s App Store on price, quality, and security.

Settlements and Previous Lawsuits

Before the trial, Google settled related claims with dating app maker Match, and it also resolved antitrust claims by U.S. states and consumers under undisclosed terms. Epic, having previously filed a similar antitrust case against Apple, faced a less favorable outcome in that case. 

However, the legal battles continued, with Epic appealing key claims to the U.S. Supreme Court and Apple resisting changes to its App Store rules.

The legal dispute between Epic and Google originated when Epic intentionally violated Play Store rules by bypassing Google’s billing systems. This bypass enables users to make in-app purchases directly with Epic. 

In response, Google banned “Fortnite,” leading to Epic’s lawsuit. Google argued that its actions were not indicative of monopolistic behavior but rather a response to intense competition with Apple.

The coming months will be crucial as the legal process unfolds and remedies are determined.

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