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Google Slashes Play Store Rates - But Not For Everyone

App Stores

It’s not easy to be an independent app maker. Firstly, you have to get your app noticed in a market that’s full of apps made by billion-dollar companies. Secondly, you have to persuade both Apple and Google that your app is worthy of being listed in their store. Thirdly - assuming you’re able to overcome the first two requirements - you have to put up with both companies then taking a thirty per cent share of all your revenue for doing nothing other than listing your app. It’s little wonder that so many individuals and companies struggle to make a success out of their apps.

App Store prices have been in the spotlight recently thanks to an ongoing lawsuit between Apple and Epic Games. We won't bore you with the full details, but it boils down to this. Apple thinks Epic has tried to swindle them out of money by introducing a workaround for app users to pay Epic directly without Apple taking a cut. Epic believes that Apple charges too much for a basic service and is effectively operating a monopoly. A court in California will soon decide who's right and who's wrong in that situation, and it will have ramifications for the entire industry. In the meantime, Google has issues of its own. Its app store policies aren't quite as restrictive as Apple's, but the company may still soon end up in court.

Whether we're talking about Apple or Google, the issue is essentially the same. In essence, an app store works like an online slots website. Somebody else - usually a third-party developer - creates all the online slots, and then the online slots website takes a cut of all the game's proceeds. Everybody makes money, and in most cases, everybody's happy. However, that arrangement only works because there are so many online slots websites to choose from. If a developer isn't satisfied with the rate of return they're getting, they can go and speak to Rose Slots CA instead and see if they’d get a more favourable split. App developers don’t enjoy the same freedoms as online slots developers. They have to put up with whatever Apple or Google decide to charge them, or they won’t be listed at all. That’s the whole crux of the issue.

App Stores

Google's stance on the matter has always been that it doesn't restrict app developers as much as Apple does. Apple blocks any means of downloading an app to an iPhone or iPad other than its app store. Google will allow apps to be downloaded directly from websites. It's a somewhat moot point because the overwhelming majority of users would never think to go looking for a website to find an app, but they're technically correct. In any event, they've now decided to go a step further. If your app is deemed to be "creative" - meaning it's a reading, music, or video app - they're prepared to cut their thirty per cent share in half on a case by case basis. Even with this apparently noble gesture, though, the offer comes with caveats.

The new offer will only be available to developers who sign up for Google's new "Play Media Experience Program," which has been available for some time on an invite-only basis. Rather than being invited, developers are now welcome to make applications. In return for acceptance, developers are "encouraged" to create apps for other Google products like Google TV, Google Cast, Wear OS, and the "Entertainment Space" platform. In other words, Google is willing to charge you less if you're willing to make products specifically for them. On top of the desire to make apps for Google, there are relatively high barriers to entry. Your app won't be accepted unless you're already getting more than one hundred thousand downloads per month and enjoy a high Play Store rating.

There might be an ulterior motive for Google’s sudden willingness to charge less for access to the Play Store. According to various “in the know” sources in the United States of America, several state legislatures are planning to file antitrust lawsuits against the company over Play Store terms and conditions. Some individual states have been considering filing suits along similar lines since the middle of last year, but there’s now a suggestion that some of them might team up to file a larger suit. New York, Utah, North Carolina, and Tennessee have all confirmed that their state attorneys are actively putting cases together, and they’re scheduled to be filed imminently. Given the problems that similar lawsuits have posed for Apple, it’s shaping up to be a bad year for Google if the rumours are accurate.

Google already faces one antitrust lawsuit in California, which was filed by Epic Games not long after the same company filed against Apple. That case is slated to go to trial next year. By that time, the outcome of the Epic vs Apple lawsuit will be known. If the case goes Epic’s way, it might be better for Google to attempt to settle out of court than go to trial on the same terms and be ruled against for the same reasons. In the meantime, anything they can do to make their Play Store terms appear more fair and balanced might help them if they do end up in court - whether that’s in California with Epic or somewhere else with another plaintiff.

App Stores

There are undoubtedly material advantages to having your app listed by Google and Apple, and both companies are entitled to take a share of proceeds in return for listing apps. Most people within the tech industry feel that thirty per cent is far too high a split. Some even feel that it’s still too high even if it drops to fifteen per cent across the board. While Google’s decision to cut rates has to be looked upon as a positive for developers, it’s little more than a single step in the right direction. Developers deserve a fair rate of pay for the work that they do, and it’s high time they started to get it.


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