Thirty-seven US state and district attorneys general sued Alphabet’s Google on Wednesday, alleging that it bought off competitors and used restrictive contracts to unlawfully maintain a monopoly for its app store on Android phones.
The allegations about Google’s Play Store stem from an investigation involving nearly every US state that began in September 2019 and have already resulted in three other lawsuits against the company. The cases threaten to force major changes to how it generates billions of dollars in revenue across its businesses, including advertising, in-app purchases, and smart home gadgets.
Google said on Wednesday the litigation was about boosting a handful of major app developers that want preferential treatment rather than about helping small businesses or consumers.
“Android and Google Play provide openness and choice that other platforms simply don’t,” the company said in a blog post.
The states, led by Utah, New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee, argue that Google has generated “enormous profit margins” from the Play Store by engaging in illegal tactics to preserve monopolies in selling Android apps and in-app goods.
In the United States, Google Play accounts for 90 percent of Android apps downloaded, according to the lawsuit. “Google leverages its monopoly power with Android to unlawfully maintain its monopoly in the Android app distribution market,” the lawsuit stated.