Google is seeking a fix for the App Store after the Fortnite game dispute over high fees

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Bloomberg: Alphabet Inc.’s Google is updating its Android software, which powers most smartphones around the world, to make it easier for consumers to use other app stores that rival its own.

If consumers use the Google Play app store, however, the company makes it clear to developers that it will take a cut from many in-app payments. This increased enforcement of an existing rule may mean that big developers, including Netflix Inc., Spotify Technology SA and Match Group Inc., end up paying more.

Epic Games Inc. recently pulled its popular Fortnite game from Google and Apple Inc.’s app stores to protest what it said were high fees and restrictive rules for developers. Google and Apple both take Up to 30% commission on most transactions.

While Apple only allows its own app store on iPhones, Google’s model is different. The search giant provides Android for free to handset makers, such as Samsung Electronics Co., in exchange for pre-installing search, the App Store and other Google services prominently on the devices. These agreements were subject to significant fines in Europe, for violation of antitrust law, and are now under the microscope in the United States.

Phone makers, mobile carriers, and even some game developers, like Epic, run their own app stores. But, on Android phones, they have to compete with Google’s digital storefront for attention.

In a blog post on Monday, Google Vice President Sameer Samat said next year’s version of the operating system – Android 12 – “will make it even easier for people to use other app stores on their devices”. Samat and the company did not elaborate.

The blog post also clarified that Google will tighten requirements that apps downloaded from Google’s store must use the company’s billing system. That means developers have to give the internet giant up to 30% off many app-related payments. About 3% of apps are currently escaping the charge, Samat wrote. Google said it gave those developers a year to comply.

Bloomberg News reported on this effort last week. Developers such as Netflix, Spotify and Match have bypassed the charge. –Bloomberg


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