What you need to know
- Google is facing a lawsuit alleging anti-competitive practices.
- Google has gradually ramped up its control of Android over the years, forcing manufacturers to integrate more and more Google services.
- Google reportedly plans to restrict subscription-based streaming services, and that could have implications for Microsoft and many others.
Google is being slapped with a suite of anti-trust lawsuits as part of a larger pushback in the U.S. into anti-competitive monopolistic practices by "big tech" (via The Verge). As part of the legal proceedings, the prosecution is outlining a range of scummy moves by everyone's favorite data-harvesting search monopoly designed to stifle competition.
The moves range from forcing Android handset manufacturers to pre-install up to thirty Google services, give them "favorable" home screen placement, while making them "impossible" to delete, which the lawsuit alleges stifles competition from other solutions. Google is also set to ditch installable APKs for apps, which will make it more difficult for competing Android stores to curate and offer content, such as the Samsung Galaxy Store, Amazon app store, and the upcoming Windows 11 Android integration feature.
Among the most impactful for Microsoft potentially is this new change to subscription-based services, which will, like Apple's iOS, be banned from informing users how to sign up via the web. Services like Office, OneDrive, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and beyond, may have to give Google a 30 percent cut of in-app subscriptions, or they'll be banned from helping users to sign up via third-party web-based means.
While this isn't going to stop anyone who is determined to sign up for Xbox Game Pass, Netflix, and other similar services, it does disrupt the usual purchase flow for potential customers on Android and will impact the ability of these services to acquire users.
Apple has faced mounting pressure from regulators and the public alike over the raw deal it offers developers on its platform, facing a fruitless but rather embarrassing lawsuit with Epic Games over Fortnite, which is currently effectively banned from iOS devices for offering users a way to acquire in-app purchases without using the Apple Store. Microsoft also pivoted the development of an iOS native app for Xbox Game Pass to building a web app instead, because Apple's 30 percent fee on top of the arbitrary requirement for games to be separate entities would've made the business there unviable.
Google has responded to the multi-state accusations in a blog post, alleging that it is "open" and fosters competitiveness. Although, the evidence offered in the legal complaint seems to suggest otherwise. You need only search in Google (or Bing 😉) for "Google fined" to discover a plethora of instances where the company has failed to appeal anti-trust allegations. They say there's no smoke without fire, after all.