Is the smartphone war between iOS and Android a real thing? Does Google
really care about switching users from iOS to Android? The answer might be found in an amended court document filed by Epic Games related to the latter’s complaint against Google and its Android app storefront.
The Android-iOS competition might be an invention of the media as opposed to being a genuine battle between two of the smartphone industry’s top players
Epic is suing Google over the 30% of in-app revenue that Google collects from developers. This is similar to the so-called Apple Tax but there are slight differences between the two platforms as Apple
does not allow users to sideload apps while Google does. One part of the amended complaint, which was viewed by iMore
, redacts an example of how Google conducts its business.
The Motorola DROID was the first Android phone to challenge the iPhone
It also states that “Google’s persistent monopoly is the result of deliberate efforts by Google to achieve and maintain it.” The document additionally reveals that the Alphabet subsidiary uses its huge size to force third-party firms into making agreements that could be considered “anti-competitive.”
Perhaps the most interesting part of the document discusses Google’s relationship with Apple. As many of you know, Google pays Apple a reported $8 billion to $12 billion annually to install Google Search on iOS, and therein lies the truth behind the Google-Apple relationship. As Epic Game notes in its filing, “Moreover, the close relationship that Google maintains with Apple further reduces Google’s incentive to compete, innovate, and invest in app distribution because Google benefits by cooperating with its competitor Apple.”
In other words, Google makes its bread by attracting eyeballs to the ads it serves up. Whether those eyeballs belong to people using the iOS or Android version of Search doesn’t matter at all to Google. The court filing notes that Google’s profits from iOS are so huge that the firm has no incentive to “to compete more with Apple at the smartphone OS level and expend more resources attracting users from iOS to Android than it currently does.”
Epic might have an easier time proving that Google and Apple are running a duopoly with a combined 99% smartphone market share
With Android and iOS together making up a 99% share of the global smartphone market, Epic should be able to prove in court that between Apple and Google, the pair have a duopoly of the mobile industry.
In a statement, Google told iMore that “The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores. For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. We will continue to defend ourselves against these meritless claims.”
Again, the more interesting aspect to Google’s filing is the possibility that the Android-iOS battle is more a manifestation of the media than an actual scrap between two manufacturers seeking to own the largest market share of the smartphone market. It all boils down to the point that Google is indeed an advertising company that makes money by selling ads. Apple’s focus is different as it seeks to profit from sales of smartphones, accessories, and other devices.
Epic says that Google’s “very carefully phrased arguments in Google’s pending motion
to dismiss give a misleading picture of the full scope of Google’s anti-competitive conduct.” While the game developer and distributor says that it believes that the information it included in its original complaint against Google was “more than sufficient” to prove its case, it decided that its best course of action was to apply more pressure on the company.