Epic alleges Google has paid phone makers to not include third-party app stores on their phones

Epic alleges Google has paid phone makers to not include third-party app stores on their phones
Epic Games, the maker of the popular game Fortnite, has been going against Apple, as many of you may probably know; however, it's not only Apple that Epic is having some beef with. Actually, it's also filed an antitrust complaint against Google, and now The Verge reports about new details of the allegations Epic is making against the tech giant.

Epic alleges Google has paid phone makers to not include third-party app stores on their phones

The text of the complaint states that starting in 2019, Google has launched a program called "Premier Device Program", which gave phone makers a bigger search revenue share than they would normally receive, and in exchange, the phone makers shouldn't ship their phones with any third-party app store pre-installed.

This move was to, reportedly make the Google Play store the only app store on the majority of smartphones. This included a rule that prohibited "apps with APK install privileges" without Google's approval. The unredacted text of the complaint was shared on Twitter by Leah Nylen.

Additionally, the text states that products that qualified as a Premier Device would receive a 12 percent share of Google search revenue. Normally, these companies would be earning 8 percent. On top of that, Google has allegedly upgraded the deal for companies like LG and Motorola, offering them between 3 and 6 percent of the purchases made in the Google Play Store on their devices.

The text also states that this Premier Device Program was not publicly known and that Epic also didn't know about it before Google has begun producing relevant documents. Epic's lawyers state that Google has tried to conceal its most restrictive anticompetitive conduct by including a statement that prohibited any public disclosure of the Agreement without the other party's prior written consent.

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Additionally, the complaint marks this program as being successful in ensuring the Google Play Store maintained its dominance in mobile markets on Android.

Reportedly, by May of last year, many of the world's largest and most popular makers of Android-powered phones had agreed to the Google Play Store's dominance on their devices. Allegedly, Motorola and LG had committed respectively 98% and 95% of all their devices to the Premier Device Program. On top of that, Chinese conglomerate BBK that parents companies such as Oppo, Vivo, and OnePlus, among other China-based phone makers, had given about 70% of their devices to the Premier program.

Companies like Sony and Xiaomi were not as committed to the Premier Device Program, according to the document, and only designated respectively 50% and 40% of their devices to it. However, Epic's lawyers underline that this program has been effective in ensuring Google Play's dominance and fighting off possible third-party stores on Android.

In another part of the complaint, we read that's it's rare for Android users to search for apps outside the Google Play Store. According to Epic, in 2017 app installations through channels other than the Play Store amounted to a mere 4.4% of Android app downloads in the United States.

Epic still has an ongoing lawsuit against Apple

As many of you have already heard by now, the Epic vs Apple legal battle is still ongoing. It first started when Epic tried to bypass Apple's App Store fees by including an option for Fortnite players to make purchases directly from Epic. This resulted in Apple warning Epic for violating the App Store rules, then subsequently taking Fortnite off the App Store and even banning Epic Games' developer account.

Epic was fighting Apple's 30% fee the company takes on any purchase made from the App Store, stating it is anticompetitive.

Apart from that, multiple governments and antitrust organizations have been recently scrutinizing the big tech companies and the alleged 'monopoly' some of them hold in the mobile market.

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