Google has been accused of favoring certain Android app developers over others. According to The Verge, a newly unsealed consumer lawsuit against Google claims that the company offered to take a “significantly reduced” cut of Netflix’s Play Store revenue in order to appease the streaming giant’s “displeasure.”
Netflix, Spotify, and Tinder allegedly attempted to avoid using the Play Store’s in-house billing system, and deals like this were intended to keep Netflix using Google’s payment platform.
In the same filing, Google claims that its normal revenue share is arbitrary. Whereas the company typically requests a 30% cut of Play Store purchases, it appears to have determined that it could break even with only a 6% cut.
According to the lawsuit, internal communications indicate that Google chose the 30 percent stake for no reason “other than to imitate Apple.”
A spokeswoman told The Verge that developers were subject to the same policies as “all other developers,” and that efforts were being made to support app makers with “enhanced resources and investments.”
According to Google’s spokesperson, these initiatives demonstrated “healthy competition” in operating systems and app stores.
If the allegations are true, however, that would not be the case, the Play Store owner would have given Netflix preferential treatment that other Play Store developers would not have received.
The company would not be alone. Internal emails also indicate that Apple provided Netflix with benefits that were not available to others who used the App Store.
In any case, Google may not have much of a choice but to change its practices. According to the attorneys behind the unsealed lawsuit, Apple recently softened the App Store’s rules as part of a proposed settlement, even going so far as to allow developers to pitch customers on alternative payment systems, which Google still prohibits.
Between these latest revelations and other lawsuits, such as those filed by Epic and state attorneys general, Google is under intense pressure to follow Apple’s lead and make other concessions in order to avoid more serious legal consequences.