Google’s Android monopoly suffers a major blow after big loss to Fortnite

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The verdict in the Epic vs. Google case has come as a significant setback for Google and its Android monopoly. A jury has concluded that Google used its dominant position in the Android market to harm Epic, the developer of Fortnite, signifying a turning point in the developer’s prolonged legal struggles.

(FILES) This illustration photo shows the Epic Games logo reflecting onto the Apple logo of the back of an I-mac in Los Angeles on May 3, 2021. (AFP)
(FILES) This illustration photo shows the Epic Games logo reflecting onto the Apple logo of the back of an I-mac in Los Angeles on May 3, 2021. (AFP)

This decision represents a critical loss for Google and its entrenched Android ecosystem, which has been operating like a tax collector from developers using its platform.

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Stark repudiation of Google’s Android control

The implications of this verdict for Google are profound. In the short-term, it serves as a stark repudiation of Google’s control over its app distribution and billing systems. Epic’s victory, after a four-week trial in California, found Google guilty of maintaining an anticompetitive monopoly. This verdict could potentially upend Google’s longstanding app store model, where the tech giant has been accused of stifling competition and innovation.

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney celebrated the victory, emphasizing its significance against Google’s monopoly. Google, in response, defended its Android and Google Play models as promoting choice and openness, stating its intention to challenge the verdict.

“Victory over Google! After 4 weeks of detailed court testimony, the California jury found against the Google Play monopoly on all counts. The Court’s work on remedies will start in January. Thanks for everyone’s support and faith! Free Fortnite!”

However, the jury’s unanimous decision in favor of Epic underscores the gravity of the situation for Google, indicating a shift in the app distribution market that Google has long dominated.

Google lost 1.3% to close at 133.29, giving up the gains following the introduction of Gemini ahead of the decision. The downside may worsen when the markets open.

Epic has been on the front lines challenging major platform providers since 2020, famously its “Project Liberty” initiative to rally Fortnite players. This campaign involved a satirical short inspired by Apple’s iconic 1984 ad, alongside a “Free Fortnite” movement. Central to their crusade is the aim to dismantle the hefty fees, up to 30 percent, imposed by giants like Apple and Google on their platforms.

Google Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy Wilson White said in a statement to IGN that the tech giant plans to challenge the verdict.

“Android and Google Play provide more choice and openness than any other major mobile platform. The trial made clear that we compete fiercely with Apple and its App Store, as well as app stores on Android devices and gaming consoles. We will continue to defend the Android business model and remain deeply committed to our users, partners, and the broader Android ecosystem,” he said.

This loss for Google could potentially lead to significant changes in how apps are distributed and monetized on Android, marking a pivotal moment in the tech industry. As Epic continues to push for a reformation of the app store system, Google faces the reality of reevaluating its practices and policies in a market that is demanding more openness and fairness.

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