Dating app companies sue Google over billing system rules
Match Group, the company behind popular dating apps Tinder, Match and OkCupid, filed a lawsuit Monday against Google alleging its billing system is anticompetitive — escalating the growing feud between app developers and tech giants that control the app store markets.
The antitrust lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, focuses on Google’s billing system for Android products, largely based on the up to 30 percent fees collected from payments on apps that are offered through the Google Play store.
“This lawsuit is a measure of last resort. We tried, in good faith, to resolve these concerns with Google, but their insistence and threats to remove our brands’ apps from the Google Play Store by June 1 has left us no choice but to take legal action,” Match Group CEO Shar Dubey said in a statement.
Match Group and other app companies have been outspoken critics of Google and Apple over their app store rules, especially fees collected from developers.
Unlike Apple, Google does allow other app stores on devices. But the lawsuit argues that “despite promises of being an ‘open’ ecosystem,” the Google Play store has essentially become the only viable mobile app distribution channel on devices running on Android operating systems through contractual agreements and programs Google has created for equipment manufacturers.
A Google spokesperson said the lawsuit is “just a continuation of Match Group’s self-interest campaign to avoid paying for the significant value they receive from the mobile platforms they’ve built their business on.”
“Like any business, we charge for our services, and like any responsible platform, we protect users against fraud and abuse in apps,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The spokesperson also argued that “Android’s openness” provides the companies with “multiple ways of disturbing their apps to Android users” even if the companies do not want to comply with the Google Play Store’s policies.
The lawsuit adds to the growing scrutiny facing Google, and other tech giants, over their market dominance. Google and Apple have been specifically targeted over their dominance in the app store market.
A proposal in Congress that would add additional regulations for owners of major app stores, like Apple and Google, has bipartisan support in the House and Senate but appears stalled as midterms approach.
The proposals would restrict the tech giants from certain policies, including collecting commission fees up to 30 percent.
The Senate version of the Open App Markets Act advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. A version of the proposal advanced out of the House last year along with a collection of antitrust proposals.
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