Google’s App Store Monopoly Ruled Illegal as Jury Sides With Epic

Google violated antitrust laws through deals that stifled competition for its Play mobile app store, a jury in San Francisco unanimously found today. The verdict delivers the first significant US courtroom loss for big tech in the years-long campaign by rivals, regulators, and prosecutors to tame the power of internet gatekeepers.

The lawsuit next moves to a remedies phase, meaning a judge as soon as the coming weeks will hear arguments about and decide whether to order changes to Google’s business practices. Users of devices powered by Google’s Android operating system could find more app options to choose from, at lower prices, if Google is forced to allow downloads of rival app stores from Play or share a greater portion of sales with developers selling digital items inside their apps.

The ruling came in a case first filed in 2020 by Epic Games, known for its blockbuster game Fortnite and tools for developers, and argued before a jury since early November. The jury of nine—a tenth juror dropped out early in the trial—deliberated for three hours before reaching its verdict. They faced 11 questions such as defining product and geographic markets and whether Google engaged in anticompetitive conduct in those areas.

Epic had accused Google of restricting smartphone makers, wireless carriers, and app developers from providing any competition to the Play store, which accounts for over 95 percent of all downloads onto Android phones in the US.

Google had denied any wrongdoing, saying that its sole aim was to provide a safe and attractive experience to users, especially as it faced competition from Apple, its iPhone, and its App Store.

Google and Epic did not have immediate comment.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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