Match Group, the parent company of the Tinder and OkCupid dating sites, filed a lawsuit on Monday against Google, which it accuses of abuse of a dominant position on phones, the latest episode in the rebellion of application publishers against the giants. technologies.
“Google dominates and almost completely controls the market for distributing applications on Android”, the mobile operating system of the overwhelming majority of smartphones in the world, explains Match Group in its press release entitled “End the Google Tax” (” End the Google tax”). “And he abused his power to the detriment of users and app developers in various ways,” continues the group specializing in dating apps.
An alternative payment system removed
Match Group criticizes Google for taking advantage of its dominant position on mobiles to impose rules that it considers unfair, and that it cannot circumvent unless it gives up on the majority of its users. The company decided to file a complaint because of a recent change in the regulations: until now, some of its applications offered an alternative payment system to that of the Play Store (the platform for downloading apps on Android). But that possibility will disappear, explain the lawyers in documents filed Monday with a Californian court. They are asking the court to force Google to let Match offer its alternative for payments in its apps – and thus escape the 15 or 30% commission charged by Google on transactions.
Match Group “is conducting a self-serving campaign to avoid paying for the significant value it generates from the mobile platforms on which it has built its business,” a Google spokesperson said. Affected apps may pay “only 15% commission on digital subscriptions, the lowest rate of the major platforms,” he said. “Regulators are taking a close look at Match Group over potential misleading subscription plans. And with this complaint, they continue to put money before user protection,” said the Google spokesperson. “Like any company, our services are paid, and like any responsible platform, we protect users against fraud and abuse in apps,” he added.
A new showdown
If justice does not intervene, and if “Match Group does not comply with Google’s policy change, Google has made it clear that it will remove Match’s apps from Google Play”, worry Match lawyers at the end of the complaint. They accuse Google of “threatening to condemn Match Group to death, a threat” already “executed against another developer, Epic Games”. In this case, “more than a billion users of Android devices worldwide could no longer have access to Match Group’s apps”, they detail. Google already allows users to download an application without going through its store, but the latter remains the preferred method for most of them.
Video game publisher Epic Games (Fortnite) engaged in a legal tussle against Google and Apple in the summer of 2020 for reasons similar to those cited by Match. In November, a US federal judge ordered Apple to allow an alternative payment system within the App Store, but also ruled that Epic had failed to prove that Apple had violated antitrust law. .
South Korea fined Google last September nearly $180 million for abusing its dominant position in the mobile app market. The country’s Parliament has also passed a law requiring operators of smartphone operating systems, mainly Google and Apple, to allow application publishers to offer alternative payment systems.