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»Fortnite« logo: The hit game has started the dispute between Google and Epic

Photo: Chris Delmas / AFP

Game developer Epic Games has prevailed against Google in the App Store lawsuit. Jurors in San Francisco concluded on Monday that Google secured a monopoly in the business of apps on the Android smartphone platform through unfair competition and that the "Fortnite" developer was disadvantaged as a result.

However, the effects are still unclear: The judge has yet to decide next year what conditions will result from the jury's decision for the Internet company. In addition, Google has already announced that it will appeal against the decision. If the jury's decision is upheld in the other instances, it could have major implications for the app industry.

Commissions that are too high?

Above all, Epic wants developers to be able to sell their applications and digital content on Google's App Store through other payment processors. In doing so, they want to avoid the current levy of up to 30 percent to the group. Google countered in the lawsuit that the "Fortnite" manufacturer wanted to get free access to the benefits of its app store. Google's Android mobile operating system has a market share of around 80 percent in smartphone sales.

In a similar case against Apple, Epic has already suffered a defeat in two instances, the monopoly allegations have not been confirmed. In contrast to Apple, Google, as an Android developer, has long allowed competing app platforms on smartphones with the operating system, while the applications on iPhones can only be downloaded from Apple's own store so far. But the jury was bothered, among other things, by Google's deals with device manufacturers and game developers, with which they were convinced the company hindered the spread of alternative app stores.

Demand for alternative payment systems

They also concluded that the commitment to Google's billing system in its in-house app platform, Play Store, was unlawful. If this assessment holds up in further instances, it could also increase the pressure on Apple. In the EU, according to the new digital laws, competing app stores are to be allowed on platforms anyway, and stricter rules against preferential treatment of the group's own offerings will also come into force.

The dispute has been going on for more than three years. In August 2020, Epic Games released a version of "Fortnite" in which digital items could be purchased through another payment processor without being handed over to the corporations, contrary to platform rules. Apple and Google then threw the "Fortnite" app out of their download offers. The Apple lawsuit started back in 2021 – but the lawsuit against Google only recently went to court.