Bonta joins 36 attorneys general in antitrust suit vs. Google
California’s first Filipino American State Attorney General has joined his counterparts in other states in taking on a global tech giant for alleged anticompetitive practices to the detriment of consumers.
State Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that California joined at least 36 others states in suing the Mountain View, California-based tech giant in US District Court for allegedly “monopolizing the smart phone application market in violation of state and federal antitrust laws.”
The multistate coalition alleges that Google has violated the federal Sherman Antitrust Act and California’s Cartwright Act, among other statutes, by entering into agreements with smart phone manufacturers to ensure that Android phones offer Google Play as the primary — and often only — application store.
The complaint further alleges that Google, in violation of state and federal law, required apps that are distributed through Google Play to use Google Play’s billing system for in-app purchases, and refused to distribute apps through Google Play if they integrated a rival billing system.
“Android customers are effectively stuck using the Google Play Store for apps, where they pay a premium,” added Bonta. “This anticompetitive behavior also stings consumers by limiting their options. A more competitive app marketplace could open innovation, leading to more choice, better payment processing, improved customer service, and enhanced data security.”
Google, one of the world’s largest companies, reportedly operates a web of exclusionary agreements with phone manufacturers and carriers to exert control over applications distribution on Android phones through its Google Play Store.
By leveraging those anticompetitive agreements, Google can demand a 30 percent cut from third-party app developers for using its Google Play Store and for in-app purchases, a captive market practice that raises prices for consumers and limits options for anyone using an Android mobile operating system. The 30 percent commission is ten times higher than competitive prices through third-party payment systems.
The tech giant has supposedly also cornered the market with application developers who wish to sell on Android platforms an example of which is that Google has required application developers to use the Google Play Store in exchange for the ability to automatically update their applications.
Developers are also allegedly denied the opportunity to offer cheaper alternatives to consumers for in-app purchases as Google’s conduct seemly eliminates competition for app stores and in-app payment systems on Android.
Although, consumers technically have the option of bypassing the Google Play Store and installing applications directly from developers or purchasing applications from competing marketplaces, Google purportedly deters this type of “sideloading” through a convoluted process that forces users to click through often-misleading security warnings and multiple permission screens.
The other states in the case, through their own Attorneys General, include the District of Columbia, New York, Colorado, Utah, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona,, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.