A 'Strange' Antitrust Case Against Google?
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37 attorneys general are suing Google in an antitrust case over how it runs the Google Play store on Android. There’s no question that Google Play is powerful; it’s the biggest app store in the world. The puzzling part about this is how government lawyers have chosen to make their case.
Nearly everything about the way Google has built its business is designed to fend off traditional antitrust scrutiny. Google Search is free for consumers to use. Google Play is ubiquitous on Android, but it’s not the only app store option; consumers can load another app store or download apps directly from the developer.
All of this is true — and completely misses the point.
Google has maintained control over Android by forcing device makers to include its suite of apps. If they don’t, they don’t get the latest features and security updates. Device makers can’t pay for the OS and go their own way with app stores, preloaded apps and payment systems. It’s a package deal. Because Google has packaged these things together so conveniently (for Google), it can argue that it has created a system of free choice — while any choice other than Google’s default is grueling and expensive.
By centering these cases on consumers rather than Google’s partners (device makers) and customers (ad buyers), the state AGs have set themselves up for a really challenging case. As Google puts it:
So it’s strange that a group of state attorneys general chose to file a lawsuit attacking a system that provides more openness and choice than others.
I agree that it’s a strange attack. But not for the reasons Google thinks it’s strange.
While you were sleeping …
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In the broader world …
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On the horizon …
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