When Epic Games in August released an update to mobile versions of the game Fortnite, which allows users to pay for in-app purchases and paid Epic directly, instead of using Apple’s or Google’s expensive payment services, the game was removed from both Apple’s App Store and Google Play because this is a violation of the guidelines of both the two app stores.
Epic then sued both companies for this and points to monopoly matters.
In retrospect, the two suppliers have reacted very differently. Apple has sought to punish Epic further by closing Epic’s account in the Apple Developer Program. This too has ended up in court. It is expected that the case will be tried before a jury next summer, and that Apple will in the meantime have to let Epic and Fortnite back in. It will probably be decided this week, writes the New York Times.
Google, on the other hand, seems to be choosing a far less confrontational line than Apple has done. In practice, the company has not made anything bigger out of this, at least until now.
Part of the reason, of course, is that Google with Google Play does not have the same, actual monopoly to defend as Apple has with the App Store.
Many Android devices already come with an alternative app store in addition to Google Play. Usually this is one that the mobile carrier itself offers. But the user can relatively freely choose to use other completely app stores instead, such as the one offered by Epic. Therefore, Fortnite is still available for Android.
Admittedly, Android warns to some extent against installing apps from app stores other than Google Play. This is primarily justified by safety, which probably means that some people do not use the alternatives.
Promises changes in Android 12
This week Google for the first time with a proper response in the conflict Epic. In a blog post, the company writes that freedom of choice has always been a central part of Android, whether it is a keyboard, messaging apps, phone app or app store.
– Despite this, some developers have given us feedback on how we make the user experience when installing another app store even better. In response to this, we will make changes to Android 12 that will make it even easier for people to use other app stores on their devices, while at the same time being careful not to compromise the security measures found in Android, Google writes.
Exactly how to do this, Google is not yet ready to tell. But that could mean making the alternative app stores available as apps in Google Play.
Android 12 will not be launched until the autumn of 2021.
Defends the fee
As for the fee of 30 percent of the amount when buying apps or in-app purchases, when they are distributed through Google Play, Google believes that this is reasonable. The company writes that this makes it possible to invest continuously in the platform, at the same time as the size of the income is directly related to the success of the developers.
However, the company has seen a need to clarify the language of the payment policy, so that it more explicitly explains that all developers who sell digital goods in their apps must use the payment system in Google Play.
Gives developers a year
According to Google, less than 3 percent of developers offering apps through Google Play have sold digital goods in this way in the last 12 months. 97 percent of these use the payment functionality in Google Play.
The rest, which make up less than one per thousand of all developers, do not risk having their apps thrown out of Google Play in the very first place. Instead, they are given one year (until September 30, 2021) to enter support for payment functionality in Google Play. This also applies to those affected by Google’s own apps.