Google agrees to settle lawsuit related to Google Play app store and will compensate 102 million users.
According to the agreement with the states, Google will pay $630 million to users in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, as well as $70 million to a general fund to resolve future complaints.
Court filings released on December 19th show 102 million U.S. users are covered. Of those, about 70%, equivalent to 71.4 million people, are eligible and will automatically receive money without having to submit a claim. These are users who made purchases from apps on Google Play, or conducted transactions via the Google Play Billing platform from August 16, 2016 to September 30, 2023. They will receive $2 or more depending on their spending level on the Google app store.
Google was sued by 36 states and the District of Columbia in July 2021 for monopoly and unfair competition allegations regarding its Google Play app store. Subsequently, the remaining states along with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands also joined. The company was accused of abusing its position to force users to pay unnecessary fees when transacting apps on Android devices, while leaving app developers with no choice but to accept Google’s high fees.
Despite agreeing to settle with the states, Google did not acknowledge the allegations. On December 20th, Wilson White, Google’s Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy, told Reuters that the settlement “relies on the choice and flexibility of Android, preserves its strong security protections, and ensures Google can continue to compete with companies like Apple”. Additionally, the company will also simplify the user experience on Google Play.
The U.S. states viewed the settlement as another win for consumers. “We sued because monopolizing to increase prices and reduce consumer choice is illegal,” said Phil Weiser, Colorado’s attorney general, to the Washington Post.
Google still faces two other major antitrust lawsuits filed by the U.S. Justice Department. One relates to how Google leveraged its monopoly power to dominate the online search market, while the other concerns its control over the online advertising market.