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The Play Store settlement requires Google to pay $700 million

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has reached a settlement in an antitrust challenge, agreeing to pay $700 million and implement changes within its Play Store. The settlement, pending final approval from a judge, allocates $630 million for consumers and an additional $70 million for states.

The antitrust dispute centered around allegations of Google operating its app store as an illegal monopoly, purportedly stifling competition from other app distributors on Android-operated devices. The settlement encompasses a nationwide class action lawsuit filed in 2021, involving all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Under the settlement's terms, eligible consumers are set to receive a minimum of $2, with potential additional payments based on their spending on Google Play between August 16, 2016, and September 30, 2023. In September, the lead plaintiff, Utah, unveiled the settlement along with other states, but details remained confidential pending Google's trial with Epic Games, the creator of "Fortnite." Recently, a California federal jury sided with Epic, identifying certain aspects of Google's app business as anticompetitive.

Google's initiation of a user choice billing program pilot in the U.S. in March 2022, allowing developers to employ alternative payment methods for in-app purchases, will be expanded as part of the settlement. This expansion will permit developers to display varying purchase costs within the app based on the chosen billing method.

Additionally, Google commits to streamlining the sideloading process, although specific details remain undisclosed. The company emphasizes its commitment to informing users about potential risks associated with sideloading, pledging to update language around these risks.

The settlement marks a substantial legal outcome for the states, with attorneys noting that "no other U.S. antitrust enforcer has yet been able to secure remedies of this magnitude from Google" or another major digital platform.

Court documents indicate that the states will seek approval for the settlement from Judge James Donato on February 8th. Notably, Judge Donato presides over the Epic v. Google case, and discussions regarding what Epic may have gained in that case are scheduled for the second week of January.

Source: adapted from an article by Sophie Blake, Author of Archives for Mobile Marketing Reads.

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