September 28, 2020 | technology | No Comments
The blockbuster legal clash between Apple and Fortnite developer Epic Games over App Store pie-slicing continues to wreak havoc on the world of tech, producing all sorts of ripple effects. As predicted by a new report from Bloomberg, Google has clarified its approach to its own Google Play Store. Specifically, it’s making it clearer to developers that apps on Google Play must use Google’s billing system for in-app purchases. That would allow for the company to ensure it receives an Apple-esque 30% cut on in-app purchases.
The Play Store billing system has existed for years, but Google has historically been quite lenient about forcing apps to use it, allowing them to use their own billing services to avoid the levy. Unlike Apple, however, Google may be able to avoid charges of monopolistic practices, since the Android platform has more sources for apps than just the Play Store–even if the Play Store is the most well-known example. The company also said that it will make it easier to install and use third-party app stores in next year’s Android 12. Specifics on how it will do so were not shared.
Google says almost 97% of apps already use Google Play’s billing, so it’s a relative minority that will be forced to now comply. Google will give app developers a year-long grace period to comply with the new policy or move out of the Google Play Store, with the deadline set as September 30, 2021.
It’s unclear if the ultimate outcome of the Epic vs. Apple lawsuit–which may be months or years away–will have any effect on this policy or prompt further shifts.
Google does say it will continue to assess the situation moving forward. It cites the launch of Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming on Android–something that does not yet work on iOS–as an example of how it is willing to be flexible and adapt as needed.
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