Match Group sues Google for ‘monopoly power’ in Android app payments – TechCrunch

The parent company of dating apps Tinder, Match and OkCupid is suing Google, alleging the company has too much control over payments through its Google Play app marketplace.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in the Northern District of California, accuses the company of deploying “anti-competitive tactics” to maintain a monopoly over the Android mobile ecosystem:

Ten years ago, Match Group was Google’s partner. We are now his hostage. Google attracted app developers to its platform with the assurance that we could give users the choice to pay for the services they want.

But once it monopolized the Android app distribution market with Google Play by overlapping the most popular app developers, Google sought to ban alternative in-app payment processing services in order to be able to reduce almost all in-app transactions on Android. .

Match’s lawsuit is the latest example of app developers demanding relief from Google and Apple over the standard 30% – now, sometimes 15% – cut those tech giants extract from in-app payments. Longstanding tensions around the issue boiled over in 2020 when Epic Games sued Apple for violating antitrust laws, a case that didn’t yield a clear winner but forced Apple to allow developers to direct their users to other payment options.

Faced with pressure over its restrictive payment choices, Google recently launched a pilot program that would allow apps to offer an alternative payment option with Google Play’s own in-app system. Spotify was the only company named as a participant in the pilot program, and Match says the company pushed back on its own efforts to sign up.

At the same time, Google announced plans to crack down on apps that circumvent its billing systems, setting a June 1 deadline. In light of the deadline, Match Group CEO Shar Dubey called the lawsuit a “last resort measure” for dating. app company.

“They control the distribution of apps on Android devices and claim developers could successfully reach consumers on Android elsewhere,” Dubey said. “It’s like saying ‘you don’t have to take the elevator to the 60th floor of a building, you can always climb the outside wall.’ It’s not legitimate.”

In a statement to TechCrunch, Google dismissed the Match retrial as a “self-serving campaign” to avoid paying its fair share. “…Even if they don’t want to comply with Google Play policies, Android’s openness still gives them multiple ways to distribute their apps to Android users, including through other app stores. Android apps, either directly to users through their website or as consumer-only apps,” a Google spokesperson said.

Match Group is a member of the Coalition for App Fairness, a developer advocacy group that draws attention to how Apple and Google’s dominance in the mobile software market negatively affects app developers. Epic Games, Spotify and Tile are other prominent members of the group, which was formed in 2020 around the time Epic stepped up its own complaints.

Developers tired of paying such a large share of their in-app revenue to Apple and Google are increasing the pressure on those companies, but governments around the world are taking an increasing interest in the issue.

In the United States, the bipartisan Open Markets Act would open up both iOS and Android app stores, upending Apple and Google’s shared stranglehold on the mobile software world. This bill came out of a Senate committee earlier this year and looks set to continue its slow progress toward becoming law.

Last week, a competition complaint in the Netherlands against Match Group’s Google Play Store sparked a preliminary investigation into the company’s potential anti-competitive practices. This country’s Consumer and Markets Authority is also in a row with Apple over its own app payment processes, and the regulatory group has ordered the company to allow dating apps to offer options. alternative payment methods.

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