Google is charging people for their digital purchases in its Play Store through an “unfair and excessive” manner, according to a new legal lawsuit filed against the tech giant.
On behalf of 19.5 million Android phone users in the UK, the legal action is seeking up to $1 billion from Google.
The lawsuit has been filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal in London by former Citizens Advice digital policy manager Liz Coll, who’s claiming that the 30 percent cut Google takes from digital purchases on its app store is unjust.
“Google created the Android app marketplace and controls it with a vice-like grip,” Coll said, explaining that Google has went against UK and European competition law.
In response, Google defended its case by issuing a statement saying that “Android gives people more choice than any other mobile platform in deciding which apps and app stores they use, in fact most Android phones come preloaded with more than one app store.”
“We compete vigorously and fairly for developers and consumers,” Google noted, mentioning that 97 percent of developers on Google Play don’t pay any service fee at all, which means their apps are free to consumers.
“Less than 0.1 percent of developers are subject to a 30 percent service fee and only when they’re earning over one million dollars, that fee is comparable with our competitors and allows us to constantly reinvest in building a secure, thriving platform that benefits everyone who uses it,” Google highlighted.
The trillion-dollar tech giant recently decreased its service charge to 15 percent for all app creators making less than $1 million, with only a small group of the most valuable app developers paying 30 percent.
According to Google, the charge allows the company to “constantly reinvest in building a secure, thriving platform that benefits everyone who uses it.”
The $1 billion lawsuit is the latest incident in an ongoing battle with both Apple and Google, as they’re currently under intense scrutiny following Epic Games’ legal action.
Epic argued that the Play Store and Apple’s app store policies and management were against producing fruitful competition, as the American video game and software developer described the two tech giants as “monopolistic.”
For the past years, major tech firms have been in hot water over anti-trust and monopoly charges.
In 2020, ten U.S. states led by Texas, brought legal action against Google over its ad revenue practices, accusing Google with illegally collaborating with the popular social network Facebook.
“As internal Google documents reveal, Google sought to kill competition and has done so through an array of exclusionary tactics, including an unlawful agreement with Facebook, its largest potential competitive threat,” the lawsuit stated.
“This Goliath of a company is using its power to manipulate the market, destroy competition, and harm you, the consumer,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said regarding Google through a video released on Twitter.
The key question many analysts have been asking is to what extent Google should be given the freedom to charge its services as it sees fit, no matter what the cost is to other developers.
Google illustrations has just upped the tech giant’s game
If you’re not keen on placing your personal picture on your Google profile, or even if you find it difficult to find a picture that represents who you are, the search giant just found the perfect solution for you.
Google has recently published a number of images under the name Google Illustrations, providing a wide variety of pictures representing animals, technology, and even space figures.
“The new library of illustrations indicates that Google is taking a different approach from avatars like Snap’s Bitmoji or Microsoft’s Xbox avatars, which can let you make stylized representations of what you look like,” explained The Verge.
Instead, Google illustrations offer different categories of objects and places to use for your avatar.
Before your serotonin levels spike up, you should note that the illustrations are only available for Android users, according to Google. However, the tech giant is currently “working on” providing the illustrations to iOS users.
The collection of illustrations available will also witness an expansion soon. In case none of the available avatars suit your liking, check back when Google welcomes more images.
Brave launches a non-tracking video call feature
Brave Software, a privacy and security-based software firm is welcoming a video conference feature under the name “Brave Talk’, emphasizing a privacy-conscious video chat option embedded into its own browser.
Through clicking on the camera icon or by visiting the page talk.brave.com, users of the Brave browser can enjoy a non-tracking video call option and even invite participants who do not have the particular browser built in their devices.
Brave, which is one of the Chromium-based browsers competing to become an alternative window to the web, is now vying to join the video conferencing space next to platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft teams. However, unlike other video calling apps, Brave is placing privacy as the number one priority.
Founded in 2016, the company prides itself with its privacy-conscious tools. The new non-tracking video call feature uses an open-source called ‘Jitsi as a Service.” Given that the source can be used directly in Brave, users won’t have to install any apps or software that can potentially compromise their devices.
This is the main differentiator between Brave and platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams or Skype, who all have the power to monitor your calls.
“Brave Talk users can enable multiple layers of encryption on calls, so an eavesdropper cannot listen in on users’ calls, and our servers don’t save metadata, so calls, images, and activities are never recorded or shared without user consent.” The company explained according to ZDNet.
The Brave Talk feature is offered free of charge for one-on-one video conferences.
The new option also includes video group watch, livestreaming directly from YouTube, and unlimited call times.
However, a paid version does exist, allowing for even more benefits such as team calls with three or more users, having the ability to record calls, mute other users and enter a passcode to join a video call.
The paid version costs $7 a month for all international users, but the Chromium browser-based Brave has plans to launch the free version of Brave Talk for all Android and iOS users.
NBCU Warns YouTube TV Subscribers Could Be Blacked Out
YouTube said it has been unable to so far reach a new carriage agreement with NBCUniversal. The current contract expires on 30 September. If no new deal is struck by then, NBCUniversal content, such as Sunday Night Football, Jimmy Fallon or Law and Order SVU, will no longer be carried by Youtube TV.
NBCUniversal is warning YouTube TV subscribers that they are in danger of losing 14 channels from their streaming lineup if Google and NBCUniversal are unable to come to an agreement on carriage agreement terms.
If you are a YouTube TV subscriber, you may lose NBC, Bravo, CNBC, E!, Golf Channel, MSNBC, Oxygen, SYFY, Telemundo, The Olympic Channel, Universal Kids, Universo, and USA Network.
Google said that if it gets equitable terms, it will renew its agreement with NBCU. Otherwise, subscribers will get a discount for the duration of a blackout, which could begin Thursday.
“If we are unable to reach a deal by Thursday, the NBCU lineup of channels will no longer be available on YouTube TV and we will decrease our monthly price by $10, from $64.99 to $54.99 (while this content remains off our platform),” Google said.
It added: “You can sign up for NBC’s own direct-to-consumer streaming service, Peacock, which they offer for $4.99/month to continue watching NBCU content, such as Sunday Night Football.”
In a statement, NBCU said it is seeking fair rates from Google for YouTube TV.
“Unfortunately, Google is refusing to make a deal at these fair rates and is willing to withhold entertainment, news and sports programming from their paying customers,” NBCU said.
“NBCUniversal feels a responsibility to inform our fans that they are at risk of losing their favorite shows if Google continues with their demands.”
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