Google claims only Epic benefits from proposed Play Store changes

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Google has posted an official response to the proposed Play Store change that Epic requested in court, stating that these remedies are “bad for everyone but Epic,” suggesting that only Epic will benefit. If you’re not sure what Google is talking about, it’s referencing Epic’s proposed remedies to the Judge and the court in its case against Google over the Play Store being a monopoly. The court ruled in favor of Epic back in December 2023. As part of this ruling, the Play Store was deemed an illegal monopoly and Google would need to work at making some changes.

Those changes, according to Epic, should include allowing users to download apps outside of the Play Store “without scare screens” that would attempt to deter users from doing so. Epic also wants the Play Store fees revamped. “Google must allow developers to offer the payment option of their choice without imposing anticompetitive fees,” Epic said. On the face of it, this would benefit users as they would have more choice. More choice in how they download their apps and where they make in-app purchases.

Google doesn’t think this is fair. Claiming that only Epic wins in this scenario. Epic certainly wins to a degree. It gets access to the Play Store for its own Epic Games Store app, plus it avoids retaliatory fees. That doesn’t really sound bad for Android users. In fact, it probably doesn’t impact the user much beyond the ability to choose where you get apps from and how you pay for micro-transactions. But that’s not what Google thinks.

In its response, Google says the Play Store changes Epic proposed undermine privacy

Google is sticking to the same story it had when it responded to Epic’s remedies in the court filing. Noting that these remedies would hurt the security and privacy that protect users’ personal data. Google says Epic’s remedies will undermine these factors. Google also calls them “problematic and unnecessary.” For Google’s part, its reasoning for pushing back against these remedies does make sense. It claims Epic’s proposed change removes Google’s ability to implement safety measures for users.

Basically, Google is saying that Epic’s remedies will take away the safeguards it has put in place. While also hurting developers by removing key business opportunities and “hurting device manufacturers.” With regards to the risk factor, that is something to consider. Sideloading apps from outside of Google Play does run the risk of opening you up to malware. Something that Play Store downloads are less prone to, although not immune.

However, the fact remains that the Play Store was ruled a monopoly. And Epic’s proposed changes are a direct result of that ruling.

Google will continue to fight against these changes

It’s unclear whether Epic’s proposed changes will end up being mandatory. What is clear is that Google isn’t going to take this lying down. The company says it will “vigorously defend our right to a sustainable business model that enables us to keep people safe.” Google’s official response was published on May 22, and the company says a hearing later this week will have economic experts reinforcing the reasons why Epic’s proposed changes are “problematic and unnecessary.”

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