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Google strikes $90 million settlement with US developers over Play Store dispute

Tech giant will compensate developers that earned $2 million or less in annual revenue between 2016-2021

Google Play on a white background

Google has agreed to compensate US app developers to the tune of $90 million as the tech giant moves to settle a lawsuit surrounding Play store policies.

Filed in San Francisco, the suit accuses Google of implementing and maintaining policies that forced them to use its billing system, which included a default 30% service fee for app purchases and in-app transactions.

Developers said this monopoly effectively prevented competition that would benefit all Android app developers across the ecosystem.

In a blog post, Google said the fund would be open to US developers that earned $2 million or less in annual revenue through Google Play each year from 2016-2021.

“A vast majority of U.S. developers who earned revenue through Google Play will be eligible to receive money from this fund if they choose,” it said. “If the Court approves the settlement, developers that qualify will be notified and allowed to receive a distribution from the fund.”

In a statement made by Hagens Berman, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, as many as 48,000 small app developers will be eligible to claim payment from the fund – with payments ranging from $250 to as much as $200,000.

“Today, nearly 48,000 hardworking app developers are receiving the just payment they deserve for their work product – something Google sought to profit from, hand over fist,” said Steve Berman, the law firm’s managing partner and an attorney representing the Android developers.

“With this settlement, developers will have more room to grow and more money in their pockets to promote their hard efforts.”

A case was originally filed against Google back in 2020, which accused the business of building a monopoly through tactics that included anti-competitive contracts, strategic abuses of its Android distribution dominance, as well as exploitation of users’ fear of malware.

In response, the company cut the figure to 15% on the first $1 million earned by developers in each year. Play Store fees were later reduced to 15% for subscription-based apps and 10% for apps in select categories. 

Now, in addition to the $90 million developer fund, Google says it will also maintain several existing practices and implement several new benefits to fuel innovation and trust.

These include the continuation of its 15% commission rate for the first $1 million earned annually, as well as a revision of its Developer Distribution Agreement, which will make it clear that developers can contact users out-of-app regarding subscription offers or lower-cost offerings elsewhere.

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Additionally, Google is creating an “Indie Apps Corner” that will appear on the apps tab on the US Google Play homepage and will showcase independent and small startup developers building fresh and unique apps.

“We’re pleased that we worked with the developers to propose this agreement for the Court’s approval,” the Mountain View-based company concluded. “As the agreement notes, we remain confident in our arguments and case, but this settlement will avoid protracted and unnecessary litigation with developers, whom we see as vital partners in the Android ecosystem.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to building thriving, open platforms that empower consumers and help developers succeed.”

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