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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

What the lawsuit against Google means for app developers

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Google is being sued by the Justice Department, on behalf of the state of California and 37 others, for alleged antitrust violations. Here’s what you need to know.

Googled states’ lawsuit against Google cites this: “Today, 95% of the largest and most popular devices in the market run on Android.”

The “largest and most popular devices” in the market are in fact a small part of them: About 5% of the iPhones in the U.S. and about 3% of the Samsung Galaxy S and S9 phones sold this year, according to Gartner Inc. The vast majority of devices being used are made by third-party app makers, and there are no Android devices on the market, Apple included, that are able to run any app the iPhone or other Android smartphone can, because Google takes over the default navigation bar and locks users out of their personal data.

(In fact, Android market share is calculated by dividing the entire global smartphone operating system market by its 1.5 billion users).

The lawsuit notes that Google builds a consumer endorsement of Android: “By introducing proprietary applications to the Android operating system, Google has made it difficult, if not impossible, for device manufacturers and distributors to launch new Android-based devices with competing software.”

But such arguments are undermined by Google’s duty to work with its smartphone and tablet makers. Google says it does that just fine. The Federal Trade Commission, which investigated the case more than four years ago, felt differently.

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