Google Confirms $700 Million Payment, Multiple Play Store Changes in Class-Action Settlement — With Possible Implications for Spotify’s War Against Apple

google play store settlement
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google play store settlement
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Photo Credit: Daniel Romero

Google has officially finalized a massive settlement agreement in connection with a lawsuit involving its Play Store – a development that could prove significant amid a high-stakes legal battle between Spotify and Apple.

The YouTube parent revealed the details of the $700 million settlement, to which it had agreed in September, via a recently published release penned by VP of government affairs and public policy Wilson White.

North of 30 state attorneys general had levied the underlying complaint, maintaining, in brief, consumer harm stemming from alleged monopolistic business practices on the Play Store.

This suit, it bears clarifying, is separate from Google’s courtroom confrontation with Epic Games – though the disputes’ arguments overlap in several ways. Google clarified the distinction at the start of the relevant announcement message, with Epic CEO Tim Sweeney having done so via a tweet in September.

Moreover, the Anthropic backer Google, which a jury last week found liable to Epic for multiple antitrust violations, today emphasized that it’s “challenging that verdict” and that its “case with Epic is far from over.”

Returning to the settlement in the states’ class action, however, Google specifically indicated that it “will pay $630 million into a settlement fund to be distributed for the benefit of consumers,” besides putting up another $70 million for “a fund that will be used by the states.”

Next, the Spotify-partnered company disclosed plans to enhance “open communication on pricing” – further taking the opportunity to claim that it has “always given developers more ways to interact with their customers than iOS and other operating systems.”

“As part of user choice billing, which we’re expanding with today’s settlement announcement, developers are also able to show different pricing options within the app when a user makes a digital purchase,” emphasized the company behind MusicLM.

Additionally, mobile-device manufacturers “can continue to provide users with options out of the box to use Play or another app store,” Google reiterated of the settlement particulars, noting as well that it’s “streamlining sideloading.”

The latter, which Google said is prohibited on iOS devices, refers to downloading apps via websites as opposed to the Play Store or different app stores.

“While we maintain it is critical to our safety efforts to inform users that sideloading on mobile could come with unique risks,” relayed Google, “as part of our settlement we will be further simplifying the sideloading process and updating the language that informs users about these potential risks of downloading apps directly from the web for the first time.”

As mentioned at the outset, it’ll be worth closely following the settlement-spurred changes’ possible impact on Apple, which remains engaged in a years-running dispute with Spotify.

Earlier this month, reports suggested that EU regulators were poised to rule in favor of the music-streaming platform in the complaint, initially filed way back in Q1 2019 and centering on App Store fees as well as terms.