Google is under siege. The tech giant confirmed that European and British regulators are investigating the Play Store on suspicion of abuse of power.
The Google Play Store is an indispensable source of income for Android developers. The platform is impossible to ignore for anyone who wants to turn a profit on Android apps. As a result, developers forcibly collaborate with Google. If the tech giant decides to confiscate 50 percent of your profits, you’ll have to swallow and move on. Alternatives are virtually non-existent.
European market laws require large organizations to respect smaller players. When millions of individuals depend on a single company, European regulators can interfere with its business.
Rumours of an official investigation into the Play Store have been circulating for months. Google recently confirmed the rumours by revealing that its platform is under investigation. “In May 2022, the European Commission and the CMA (British market authority) each opened a formal investigation into Google Play’s business practices”, the tech giant noted in a quarterly earnings filing dated October 25.
Eight billion over ten years
Over the past decade, Google flouted several market rules. The company received more than eight billion euros in fines for abuse of power in the European Union. The violations are unlikely to be accidental. Google employs enough lawyers to understand the law.
The European Commission recently presented the Digital Markets Act, a package of new market rules. One of the implications is that Google must allow multiple payment systems for purchases on the Play Store. Earlier this year, while being aware of the upcoming package, Google threatened to remove all apps with an alternative payment system from the Play Store by July 2022.
The tech giant has since come around. Despite the threat, Google announced that European apps are allowed to use an alternative payment system in July 2022. It seems the company reversed its strategy sometime in the past few months. The tech giant is playing nice instead of violating rules and paying fines like it’s nothing — as was typical during the turn of the decade.
Despite the new attitude, Google faces a problem. The Play Store is currently under investigation by European and British market authorities due to the threats made earlier this year. Regulators are trying to determine whether the company caused harm among developers by announcing the removal of apps.
The investigation could lead to billions in fines. Today’s penalties are much higher than a decade ago. Reuters contacted the European Commission for a comment, but initially received no response. In September this year, a European court fined Google €4.1 billion in a separate case.