The parent company of dating apps Tinder, Match and OkCupid is suing Google, claiming the company exercises too much control over payments through its Google Play app marketplace.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in the Northern District of California, accuses the company of implementing “anti-competitive tactics” to maintain a monopoly on the Android mobile ecosystem:
Ten years ago, Match Group was a Google partner. Now we are their hostages. Google brought app developers to its platform with the confidence that we could give users a choice on how to pay for the services they wanted.
But once it monopolized the Android app distribution market with Google Play by following in the footsteps of popular app developers, Google sought to ban alternative in-app payment processing services so it could grab a piece of nearly all of it. transactions within the application in Android. .
Match’s lawsuit is the latest example of app developers demanding compensation from Google and Apple for the standard 30 percent (now sometimes 15 percent) cut that those tech giants take from in-app payments. . Long-standing tensions around the issue erupted in 2020 when Epic Games sued Apple for antitrust violations, a case that didn’t result in a clear winner but did force Apple to allow developers to point their users to alternative payment options.
Under pressure for its restrictive payment options, Google recently launched a pilot program that would allow apps to offer an alternative payment option alongside Google Play’s own in-app system. Spotify was the only company named as participating in the pilot program, and Match says the company has rejected its own efforts to sign up.
At the same time, Google announced plans to crack down on apps that bypass its billing systems, setting a deadline of June 1. In light of the deadline, Match Group CEO Shar Dubey called the lawsuit a “measure of last resort” for dating. app company
“They control the distribution of apps on Android devices and they want developers to be able to successfully reach consumers on Android elsewhere,” Dubey said. “It’s like saying ‘you don’t have to take the elevator to get to the 60th floor of a building, you can always climb the outside wall.’ It’s not legitimate.”
In a statement to TechCrunch, Google dismissed Match’s new lawsuit as a “self-interest campaign” to avoid paying its fair share. “…Even if they don’t want to comply with Google Play policies, the openness of Android still gives them multiple ways to distribute their apps to Android users, including through other Android app stores, directly to users through from your website or as apps for consumption only. ”, said a Google spokesman.
Match Group is a member of the Coalition for App Fairness, a developer advocacy group that draws attention to the ways that Apple and Google’s dominance of the mobile software market negatively affects app developers. Epic Games, Spotify and Tile are other prominent members of the group, which formed in 2020 as Epic escalated its own complaints.
Developers tired of paying such a hefty chunk of their in-app earnings to Apple and Google are ratcheting up the pressure on those companies, but governments around the world are also taking a growing interest in the matter.
In the US, the bipartisan Open Markets Act would open up both the iOS and Android app stores, ending Apple and Google’s shared dominance of the mobile software world in the process. That bill came out of a Senate committee earlier this year and appears poised to continue down the slow path toward becoming law.
Last week, a competition complaint in the Netherlands against Google’s Play Store by Match Group prompted a preliminary investigation into the company’s possible anti-competitive practices. The US Consumer and Markets Authority is also in discussions with Apple over its own app payment processes, and the regulatory group has ordered the company to allow dating apps to offer alternative payment options.