Epic Games: Google has no incentive to make people leave iOS because of search agreement
Epic Games has told the court in its Fortnite battle with Google that the internet giant has no incentive to make people switch from iOS to Android because a search deal struck between the two is so lucrative.
On Thursday Epic Games filed an amended complaint against Google in the huge case brought against the company over the removal of Fortnite from the Google Play Store. The suit runs parallel to Epic’s case against Apple but is different in scope because of the various differences in Android versus iOS.
Epic says that documents filed by Google suggest that “very carefully phrased arguments in Google’s pending motion to dismiss give a misleading picture of the full scope of Google’s anticompetitive conduct.” Epic Games further states that whilst it believes its first complaint was “more than sufficient”, it might as well pile on the pressure.
The amended suit, reviewed by iMore is mostly shuffled words here and there, along with the occasional clarification. One added clause says that one example of Google’s conduct (sadly redacted) “shows that Google’s persistent monopoly is the result of deliberate efforts by Google to achieve and maintain it”, stating that Google uses its size to force third parties into anti-competitive agreements.
Epic Games also says that it would like to distribute Android apps on its platform, and has tweaked references to Fortnite to emphasize the fact it believes it to be a multiverse inside which you can play games, rather than a game itself:
Epic further touts the Epic Games store within the suit, before honing in on an agreement between Apple and Google that has drawn more than a few raised eyebrows in recent years. Noting previous public report the amended suit states:
Moreover, the close relationship that Google maintains with Apple further reduces Google’s incentive to compete, innovate, and invest in app distribution because Google benefits by cooperating with its “competitor” Apple…
For example, for over 15 years, Google has maintained an agreement with Apple whereby Google pays Apple a significant percentage of revenue derived from searches run on iOS devices—an estimated $8-12 billion per year in recent years, according to the U.S. Department of Justice—in exchange for Apple making Google Search the default search engine on the Safari browser,
Epic Games goes so far as to allege that Google reaps so much profit from iOS users through this agreement that it is not incentivized “to compete more with Apple at the smartphone OS level and expend more resources attracting users from iOS to Android than it currently does.”
If it did not profit significantly from searches on iOS devices, Google might be more incentivized to, among other things, differentiate its Android platform from Apple with respect to the commissions it charges on app transactions. If Android competed with iOS on app transactions, the market competition would make Android apps cheaper for users and attract developers to launch their apps first (or even only) on Android. Instead, Google and Apple are cozy duopolists, offering virtually the same terms to developers and changing those terms in tandem (if at all).
Epic Games’ pivot in tone is clear, with the company now looking to insinuate that Apple and Google not only have an alleged monopoly over their respective mobile platforms but a duopoly over the mobile market as a whole. With an estimated 99% share of the smartphone market, the second is perhaps a much easier sell than the first.
In a statement Google said “The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores. For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. We will continue to defend ourselves against these meritless claims.