February 25, 2024

Google Users to Get $630 Million as Part of Play Store Settlement

According to the terms of an antitrust settlement that Google entered at a US court, more than a hundred million users are entitled to a share of a $630 million compensation amount.

Around 102 million Google users in the US are eligible to receive their part of the compensation.

The settlement brings an end to the long-running antitrust case against the tech giant, which accused it of stifling competition through its app store fees and terms.

The terms of the settlement were unveiled earlier this week, in documents filed in San Francisco Federal Court.

While Google will be paying $700 million as a part of the settlement, $70 million will go to the states that took part in the lawsuit, as coverage for penalties and other costs.

A vast majority of users who were affected by Google’s unfair app store terms and fees, won’t have to file a claim. This accounts for about 71.4 million of the consumers eligible for compensation, under the settlement’s terms.

Depending on how much money they spent through the Google Play Store in the period between August 16, 2016, and September 30, 2023, eligible consumers will receive a payment of $2 or more.

In addition to the monetary compensation, Google has also been asked to make it easier for users to sideload apps, i.e., install apps from third-party websites and unofficial app stores.

Apps will also be allowed to promote cheaper prices for choosing alternate methods for payment instead of Play Store’s own payment processing system.

Accordingly, the warning screens that appear while trying to sideload apps will have to be changed too. As per the settlement terms, Google will have to refrain from displaying as many warnings when a user uses an alternative method to install an app.

Google claims that while it does support sideloading on Android to promote an open ecosystem, it might pose potential privacy or security risks. This is because the software outside Google’s official app store doesn’t undergo its review process, the tech giant has warned.

On the other hand, app makers on Android platforms will now get to enjoy more flexibility in offering their consumers alternative payment choices — something that Google’s policies previously prohibited.

Google also agreed to expand a pilot program that will allow users to choose between the company’s proprietary billing system and third-party channels for in-app purchases. Called “User Choice Billing” by Google, the program has already been tested around the world for over a year.

App makers receiving payments via third-party billing systems under the program can enjoy a small discount on Google’s fees.

Google Forced Users to Pay ‘Artificially Elevated Prices’: Washington DC Attorney General

The trial had begun with a lawsuit filed by dozens of US states, including Washington, Utah, Florida, California, and others.

For far too long, Google’s anti-competitive practices in the distribution of apps deprived Android users of choices and forced them to pay artificially elevated prices.Brian Schwalb, Washington DC Attorney General

Google’s app store policies unnecessarily drove up the prices for in-app transactions, the lawsuit claimed. Google collects hefty commissions ranging between 15% and 30% on in-app purchases.

This, together with the company’s anti-competition practices, drove up the prices unnecessarily, the state attorneys general claimed. Wilson White, Google’s vice president of government affairs and public policy, issued a statement expressing the company’s pleasure at reaching a settlement and calling it a positive development.

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