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36 States Sue Google for App Store Monopolization

36 estados demandan a Google por "monopolio" en su app store

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A total of 36 states have sued tech company Google over how it manages its Play Store, its app distribution platform, alleging harm to both consumers and developers of these products.

A group of state attorneys general filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google’s app store, in a move that adds to the growing regulatory problems facing the tech giant.

They argue in the complaint that Google maintains a monopoly in the app distribution market for the Android operating system that it owns, develops and is used by most of the world’s smartphones.

The lawsuit claims that Google favors its Play Store over other app stores available on Android devices and argues that developers have “no reasonable choice” but to distribute their products through the store.

“Google has taken steps to shut down the competitive ecosystem and insert itself as a middleman between app developers and consumers,” state attorneys general allege.

This conduct has harmed both consumers and app developers, especially when it involves in-app purchases for which the company charges a fee.

“Google has been the gatekeeper of the Internet for many years but, more recently, it has also become the gatekeeper of our digital devices, resulting in all of us paying more for the software we use every day,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.

App developers have publicly criticized Google’s rules for participating in its Play Store, something that already figures in a lawsuit filed against the company by Fortnite game maker Epic Games, the technology company Epic Games.

For years, the Internet giant charged a 30% commission for the sale of apps and in-app purchases within the Play Store.

After facing mounting pressure, it reduced it to 15% in early July, but it only affected the first $1 million generated by an app developer, the newspaper recalls.

State attorneys general argue that this fee is “outlandish” and say it is not the result of a competitive market, but rather one in which Google has maintained unfair advantages through a combination of technological barriers and special contracts.

They also allege that because of this “exclusionary conduct,” even other tech giants like Amazon have been unable to build a competitive Android app store.

The states are asking the judge to prohibit some of the company’s long-criticized practices, including its use of contracts requiring device manufacturers to grant premium placement to the Play Store and its requirements that app developers use Google’s payment services.

Google should be required to stop “imposing unnecessary technological hurdles or inaccurate warnings on the user experience of downloading Android apps for products that meet reasonable industry security standards,” the lawsuit asks.

App stores controlled by Apple and Google have been a major target of antitrust authorities around the world. Competitors and critics say the stores allow the two giants to play gatekeeper to cell phones, giving them immense power over the Internet and the digital economy.