08 Aug 2022

Google Play Store Under the Radar of the EU’s Competition Watchdog

The European Commission’s (Commission) antitrust enforcers are investigating Google Play Store.  The antitrust enforcers are now looking into the restrictions Google has placed on the Play Store app market.

According to the sources, the Commission has sent a confidential questionnaire to several companies that use the Play Store.   Most of the questions are about the billing terms and fees they must pay to this tech giant to be listed in its application catalog.

Any purchase made inside an application (in-app) that has been downloaded from the Play Store is subject to a 15% to 30% fee that Google charges.  Publishers were also bound by exclusivity agreements, which required them to use the billing system selected by Google in order to appear in the Google catalog.   Third-party payment systems were not permitted for usage by businesses.

All this led to many complaints, for example, Match Group, the parent company of Tinder, Spotify and many others sued Google.  The Apple app store, Play Store’s main competitor, was also targeted with similar complaints.

At the end of July, Google decided to allow applications to use third-party payment providers in Europe, in the light of the upcoming arrival of the Digital Market Act and the Digital Services Act.  However, the applications will have to notify the tech giant of the total amount of all transactions made throughout the month, and the commission for carrying out the transactions through the third-party payment providers will increase to 12%.

The Commission, however, has chosen to take the lead in determining whether the steps taken by Google are adequate.  An investigation into the rules of the Play Store was already open in the Netherlands, but this will certainly be put on hold to make room for the investigation by the EU antitrust enforcers.  The United Kingdom’s competition body has also started an antitrust investigation into Google and Apple, in particular the Play Store, cloud gaming services offered by two companies, and their web browsers: Chrome and Safari.

If you are interested in this topic and want to find out more, stay tuned, as on our website you can soon expect a detailed publication about the ongoing antitrust investigations into Google Play Store.


Authors: Branko Gabrić, Milica Novaković