EU antitrust inspectors questioned app developers on the impact of Google’s Play Store policies. Earlier this year, the tech giant threatened to ban apps that use alternative payment methods instead of its proprietary system. Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that EU antitrust inspectors are investigating Google.

Critics say that the fees levied by Google’s and Apple’s app stores are unreasonable and cost developers billions each year, demonstrating the two companies’ monopolistic strength. According to the sources, questionnaires were provided to developers last month. Some of the 16 questions in the paper spanned the years 2017–2021, while others covered the years 2019–2021. Neither the European Commission nor Google has responded to requests for comment.

Google’s threat to developers

Play Store apps that don’t use Google’s payment system have risked deletion since June of this year. The questionaires asked respondents if Google’s policy change affected the availability of their goods or services on the Google Play Store, which applications were affected, and if it hindered their ability to gain users on Android devices.

Inspectors reportedly want to know if the shift caused developers to abandon alternative payment methods in favor of Google Billing, and if transferring customers to another payment method harmed the number of current users or the developers’ access to their data.

Questions

Developers were asked if they thought they could provide a better service or product if they could use a different payment system. The EU competition watchdog also wanted to know if Google permitted them to use a different payment system, if they were charged a price for doing so, and if they had any reservations about the safety of their payment method.

App developers were asked if Stripe, Adyen, and PayPal unit Braintree are considered alternative payment platforms. Google said last month that non-gaming app developers could switch to competing payment systems for a reduced price of 12 percent instead of 15 percent. The change only applies to European customers and is intended to comply with EU regulations that go into effect next year.

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