Match Group, the maker of popular dating apps including Tinder, Match, and OkCupid, is suing Google over the Play Store’s restrictive pricing terms. Match Group says in its case that Google “illegally monopolized the market for distributing apps” on Android by requiring developers to utilize Google’s billing system and then collecting a portion of the revenue.
Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple in 2020, stating that Apple committed in “anti-competitive” activity by seeking a 30% fee on in-app purchases in the iOS app store, among other claims. Although the final decision was mixed, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rodgers was particularly skeptical of the payment monopoly claims, saying that Apple has the right to charge a fee for licensing its intellectual property and that its payment system “accomplishes this goal in the simplest and most direct manner.”
While Google claims that some forms of in-app purchases have always been needed to be made through its billing service, it made it plain in 2020 that it wants all applications selling digital items to utilize its billing system. Of course, this allows Google to earn up to a 30% profit. In March 2021, Google reduced the proportion to 15% for the first $1 million a developer earns, and in October, it did the same for music streaming applications and subscriptions. Despite this, Match Group accuses Google of using “bait and switch methods” to deceive developers about its payment procedures.
According to Match Group’s lawsuit, “Google enticed app developers to its platform with claims that we could provide customers a choice over how to pay for the services they want.” “However, once Google Play had monopolized the Android app distribution business by riding the coattails of the most successful app developers, it attempted to prohibit competing in-app payment processing systems so it could take a share of practically every in-app transaction on Android.”
Match Group also claims that Google intends to impose a “app store tax” that “comes out of users’ pockets in the form of increased costs and income that app developers would and should otherwise earn for the selling of their services,” according to Match Group. It also says that “monopolizing the in-app payment processing business” gives Google access to customers’ credit card information and identities, which it may use to its advantage.
Match Group is a member of the Coalition of App Fairness, which includes firms such as Spotify and Tile. Its purpose is to combat regulations that it considers anticompetitive, such as Apple’s and Google’s prohibition on developers using third-party payment processors. Google stated in March that it will begin exploring a mechanism for Android developers to utilize their own payment systems, with Spotify as the first. However, it’s unclear if Google will continue to receive a commission on those transactions, and if so, how much.