After forcing Apple to allow its apps to use third-party options, Match Group is now going after Google with a lawsuit alleging the search giant’s Play Store billing policies were restrictive.
Match Group, the company behind popular dating apps like Tinder, Match, and OkCupid, has sued Google in court. The Dutch company complained that Google takes developers captive in the Play Store by illegally monopolizing the app distribution market. Google achieves this by allegedly forcing apps to use its payment method and demanding a share.
This lawsuit mirrors Epic Games’ case against Apple in 2020, in which the game publisher complained that Apple used anti-competitive methods by taking a 30 percent cut from all transactions made through the App Store. However, the judgment did not agree with the monopoly claim. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rodgers upheld Apple’s right to charge a fee for other parties to use its intellectual property in their own product. She agreed that Apple’s charging method was the easiest way to monetize its IP.
However, Google has said it only requires some categories of apps to process in-app payments through its own channels, although it prefers all developers to receive payments through it. The OS developer has even slashed its cut to 15 percent for the first $1 million collected by a developer, which it eventually also applied to music streaming apps and those requiring a subscription to function.
This does not sit well with Match Group, which claims Google is using “bait and switch tactics to lure developers into using its own payment platform. According to the complaint filed by Match Group, “Google lured app developers to its platform with assurances that we could offer users a choice over how to pay for the services they want. But once it monopolized the market for Android app distribution with Google Play by riding the coattails of the most popular app developers, Google sought to ban alternative in-app payment processing services so it could take a cut of nearly every in-app transaction on Android.”
Match Group claims it is fighting for the consumers, which would have been forced to bear the payment, and app developers, who have been forced to give up a large chunk of their earnings. In addition, the company alleges that Google puts itself in a position where it can access users’ credit card data and use it to its advantage.
Google has responded to Match Group’s claims, brushing it off as the actions of a greedy business partner. The company’s spokesperson, Dan Jackson, made the following statement available to the press:
“This is just a continuation of Match Group’s self-interested campaign to avoid paying for the significant value they receive from the mobile platforms they’ve built their business on. Like any business, we charge for our services, and like any responsible platform, we protect users against fraud and abuse in apps. Match Group is currently attracting regulator concerns over things like deceptive subscription practices, and with this filing, they continue to put money ahead of user protection.
“Match Group’s apps are eligible to pay just 15% on Google Play for digital subscriptions, which is the lowest rate among major app platforms. But even if they don’t want to comply with Google Play’s policies, Android’s openness still provides them multiple ways of distributing their apps to Android users, including through other Android app stores, directly to users via their website, or as consumption-only apps.”
Match Group’s lawsuit has come at a time large tech companies are facing increasing scrutiny on how they do their business. The EU, for example, has proposed a set of legislations to allow smaller companies to compete better and make the big companies take more responsibility for the content posted by the users on the platforms they operate.