Google’s New York office is shown in lower Manhattan on March 5, 2018, in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Colorado is among 36 states suing Google over allegations the tech firm is operating a monopoly with its app store and Google Billing.
States such as Minnesota, Missouri, Minnesota and South Dakota also are involved with the lawsuit, Utah v. Google. The states claim Google paid off competitors and used contracts to create a monopoly for its app store on Android phones and Google Billing.
“U.S. consumers spend more time using mobile devices than desktop or laptop computers, and they spend more than $32 billion a year purchasing apps and content within apps. Despite promising an open platform, Google has restricted competition from rival app stores and from rival payment processing for in-app purchases,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a statement. “By so doing, Google has limited choice and inflated the prices that consumers pay for purchases made through an app downloaded on the Play Store. The lawsuit filed in federal court today is designed to restore competition and protect consumers.”
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Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement: “Millions of consumers rely on the Google Play Store to discover and download frequently used apps on their smart devices … Through the use of restrictive contracts and agreements, Google has used this reliance to thwart competition and create a monopoly in app distribution. What’s more, Google has knowingly passed higher than average fees along to customers, often costing consumers hundreds if not thousands of dollars they wouldn’t have spent except for Google’s dominant market position.”
The suit came out of a massive investigation that began in September 2019 and involved Iowa and most other states. Lynn Hicks, Miller’s chief of staff, said Iowa was a leader in that investigation and a 2020 lawsuit alleging Google was using anti-competitive techniques in its search engines and advertising.
In a news release, Miller noted that Google’s system shuts out competing app distribution channels, and forced app consumers to pay Google’s 30% commission by going through Google Billing.
In response to the lawsuit, Google said in a blog post that the challenge comes from a few major app developers that want preferential treatment. “Android and Google Play provide openness and choice that platforms simply don’t,” Google wrote, according to Reuters.
The latest legal challenge is led by Utah, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee.
Among the other states involved in the lawsuit are Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
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