Google Pays $392m In Landmark US Privacy Case

In this file photo taken on January 22, 2019 a technician passes by a logo of US internet search giant Google during the opening day of a new Berlin office of Google in Berlin. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP
In this file photo taken on January 22, 2019, a technician passes by a logo of US internet search giant Google during the opening day of a new Berlin office of Google in Berlin. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

 

Google on Monday agreed to settle a landmark privacy case with 40 US states over accusations that the search engine giant misled users into believing location tracking had been switched off on their devices.

A statement said it was the largest multi-state privacy settlement by state authorities in US history and included a binding commitment for improved disclosures by Google.

“Digital platforms like Google cannot claim to provide privacy controls to users then turn around and disregard those controls to collect and sell data to advertisers against users’ express wishes — and at great profit,” said New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin in the statement.

The rare joint lawsuit by 40 states grew from impatience over the failure of federal authorities to crack down on big tech amid legislative gridlock in Washington.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers disagree on what national rules on online privacy should look like, with furious lobbying by tech companies to limit their potential impact.

READ ALSO: Late Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen’s Art Collection Sold For $1.6bn

Since 2018, the US tech giants have faced strict rules in Europe, with Google, Amazon and others subjected to hefty fines over privacy violations.

The US case began after an article in 2018 from the Associated Press reported that Google tracked users even when they had opted out of the practice.

Other states involved included Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Specifically at fault in their case was evidence that users continued to be tracked when they disabled the location history option on their phones as tracking continued through a separate Web & App Activity setting.

In a statement, Google said that the allegations were based on product features that were no longer up to date.

“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” the company said.

Under the settlement, Google will provide more detailed information on tracking activity.

AFP

Google Celebrates Jollof Rice With Doodle

Today’s #GoogleDoodle unpacks one of the world’s great dishes, with its ingredients dancing to a tune.

 

 

Google is dedicating today to celebrating jollof rice.

To celebrate jollof rice, the word “Google” was spelled using the dish and with condiments and add-ons that often go with it. A click on the doodle opens up a video highlighting the major ingredients for the dish.

Jollof rice is one of the most popular foods in West Africa, although the ingredients and methods of preparation vary from location to region, the dish is often made in a single pot with rice, tomatoes, onions, spices, vegetables, and meat.

Especially prominent in the statement is the rivalry between Nigeria and Ghana dubbed the “Jollof Wars”. The major differences between the “jollofs” are also stated.

“On this day each year, rice farmers plant and reap a bountiful harvest, and cooks across West Africa prepare to make fresh Jollof,” Google said in a statement.

“Jollof rice is a one-pot meal that originated from the Wolof tribe in the 14th century.

“The Wolof Empire, ruling parts of modern-day Senegal, The Gambia, and Mauritania, popularized Jollof throughout West Africa. ”

Each West African country has at least one variant form of the dish, with Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Cameroon particularly competitive as to which country makes the best Jollof rice.

 


 

The Google doodle which was created with stop-motion animation of food, unpacks one of the world’s great dishes, with its ingredients dancing to a tune.

Nigerian artist Haneefah Adam created the artwork and Senegalese jazz musician, Hervé Samb, created the soundtrack.

Haneefah Adam said she approached the doodle as “a celebration of culture—not just my culture, but of everyone who recognizes food as a conduit. The diversity of how we approach food is really interesting—like how the preparation of Jollof is different in Nigeria vs. Senegal (they even have different names). This just goes to show the richness and beauty of our collective culture as a continent.”

“It’s been a privilege to shine a light on this aspect of my culture with food and I hope to be able to continue to share beautiful stories out of Nigeria.”

Google’s Money Churning Ad Engine Sputters In Rough Economy

This file photo taken on February 14, 2020 shows the Google logo in Brussels. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
This file photo taken on February 14, 2020 shows the Google logo in Brussels. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

Google parent Alphabet on Tuesday reported quarterly earnings that fell short of market expectations as belts tightened in the digital ad market that drives its revenue.

Alphabet said it made a profit of $14 billion in the third quarter on ad revenue that grew just 6 percent to $69 billion when compared with the same period of last year.

Aside from one period at the start of the Covid pandemic, that would mark the weakest revenue growth at Alphabet for any quarter since 2014.

“When Google stumbles, it’s a bad omen for digital advertising at large,” said Insider Intelligence analyst Evelyn Mitchell.

“This disappointing quarter for Google signifies hard times ahead if market conditions continue to deteriorate.”

Alphabet shares slipped 6.8 percent to $97.35 in after-market trades that followed the release of the earnings report.

Google’s foundation in advertising on its heavily used search engine does give it an advantage, however, over other ad-reliant tech firms such as Meta, Snap and Twitter, the analyst added.

“Over time, we’ve had periods of extraordinary growth and then there are periods I viewed as a moment where you take the time to optimize the company to make sure we are set up for the next decade of growth ahead,” Alphabet and Google chief Sundar Pichai said on an earnings call.

“I view this as one of those moments.”

Alphabet chief financial officer Ruth Porat said the financial results in the quarter showed “healthy fundamental growth in Search and momentum in Cloud” computing revenue, but suffered from foreign exchange rates given the strong US dollar.

“We’re working to realign resources to fuel our highest growth priorities,” Porat said.

Big tech firms are grappling with multiple challenges, from inflation to the war in Ukraine, putting pressure on earnings.

Alphabet recruited throughout the pandemic, but announced a slowdown in hiring as ad revenue growth cooled this year.

“Within this slower headcount growth next year we will continue hiring for critical roles, particularly focused on top engineering and technical talent,” Porat said.

Many other tech companies have decided to lay off staff, including Netflix and Twitter, or slow the pace of hiring, such as Microsoft and Snap.

YouTube squeeze?

Worsening the financial situation for Alphabet is the fact that Google tends not to aggressively promote advertising on its platform with tactics such as trying to convince businesses that online marketing is a smart move during tough economic times, said independent tech analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group.

“They don’t like the idea of making their money off advertising, so they don’t treat the market very well,” Enderle contended.

“Now, you are seeing the adverse impact of not taking your revenue source seriously.”

The earnings report also showed that ad revenue at YouTube was slightly lower than it was in the same quarter a year earlier, despite a hot trend of people watching video on-demand on the internet.

“Overall, I feel YouTube remains in a really good position to continue to benefit from the streaming boom,” chief business officer Philipp Schindler said during an earnings call.

However, Alphabet noticed a “pullback in spending” by advertisers at YouTube in the quarter, Schindler told analysts.

“They have a ton of competition in video, and TikTok is probably hitting YouTube pretty hard,” Enderle said.

Netflix last week reported that it gained subscribers in the recent quarter, calming investor fears that the streaming giant was losing paying customers.

The company said it ended the third quarter with slightly more than 223 million subscribers worldwide, up some 2.4 million, after seeing subscriber ranks ebb during the first half of the year.

The turn-around in subscriber growth comes as Netflix is poised to debut a subscription option subsidized by ads in November across a dozen countries.

Rival streaming platform Disney+ is to launch ad-subsidized subscriptions in December.

India Fines Google $113m For ‘Unfair’ Payment System

This file photo taken on February 14, 2020 shows the Google logo in Brussels. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
This file photo taken on February 14, 2020 shows the Google logo in Brussels. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

 

India’s antitrust watchdog fined Google $113 million on Tuesday for “unfair” payment policies, a week after hitting the tech behemoth with an even bigger financial penalty for abusing its market dominance.

The California-based company’s Android mobile operating system is by far the dominant player in India and runs on 95 percent of all the country’s smartphones, according to research agency Counterpoint.

Independent developers distribute their own software on Android through the company’s app store, Google Play, but must use Google’s billing system to collect revenue from consumers.

This policy amounts to an “unfair condition on app developers”, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) said in a statement announcing the fine.

Google’s “one-sided and arbitrary” billing practices left developers “bereft of the inherent choice to use (a) payment processor of their liking”, it added.

The CCI ordered Google to allow app makers to use third-party billing systems and treat rival payment processing services on equal footing.

Tuesday marked the second financial penalty levied by the CCI against Google in a matter of days.

Last week, the watchdog fined the company $162 million after ruling that it had configured Android to crowd out potential rivals to YouTube, Chrome and other popular Google apps.

It also ordered the company not to enter into any agreement with smartphone makers that would encourage them to only sell Android-based devices or exclusively use its software.

Google faced a similar anti-trust ruling in the European Union that found the company had imposed “unlawful restrictions” on smartphone makers to benefit its search engine.

Last month, the EU’s second-highest court upheld a $4.1 billion fine against the company.

Global regulators have followed suit, with Google facing a barrage of cases in the United States and Asia based on similar accusations.

India is home to the second-highest number of smartphone users in the world, after China.

Its smartphone market grew 27 percent year on year in 2021, according to Counterpoint, with annual sales exceeding 169 million units.

Apple remains a minor player in the budget-conscious market but has seen some inroads in recent years, and the company last month announced plans to locally manufacture its flagship iPhone 14.

Twitter Shares Fall As Musk Takeover Faces Fresh Questions

A photo of Elon Musk

 

Twitter shares fell about five percent early Friday as the proposed takeover by Elon Musk faced new questions and weak Snap results weighed on social media shares.

Bloomberg reported that the Biden administration was weighing a national security review of Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter, in part because of Musk’s investment consortium, which includes Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

Biden administration officials are also concerned about Musk’s favorable public posture towards Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bloomberg reported.

Also, the Washington Post reported that Musk plans deep staff cuts at Twitter if his purchase goes through.

While pitching the acquisition to investors, Musk said he planned to get rid of nearly three-quarters of Twitter’s workers, lopping its ranks to just over 2,000 employees from 7,500, the Post reported.

The on-again, off-again deal to merge Twitter into Musk’s empire could close as soon as next week.

Twitter had filed a lawsuit to hold Musk to the terms of the takeover deal he inked in April, even though Musk tried to get out of it.

A US judge recently suspended litigation in the saga after Musk expressed a change of heart, giving the parties until October 28 to finalize the megadeal.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives described the reported 75 percent Twitter staff cut as “way too aggressive,” adding that “Musk cannot cut his way to growth with Twitter.”

READ ALSO:  Twitter To Lay Off Nearly Three-Quarters of Staff

While acknowledging lingering questions about financing, Ives predicted the Twitter deal “gets done next week.”

A third factor weighing on Twitter shares Friday was a dismal earnings report from Snapchat parent Snap, which reported a quarterly loss of $360 million on weakening online advertising revenue.

Near 1430 GMT, Twitter shares were down 4.7 percent at $49.97.

Snap shares were off about 30 percent Friday, while other online advertisers including Facebook parent Meta and Google parent Alphabet were also lower.

AFP

Texas Sues Google Over Biometric Recognition Features

Google CEO, Sundar Pichai.

 

The US state of Texas filed a lawsuit against Google on Thursday, accusing the internet giant of harvesting large amounts of biometric data from people without their explicit consent, a claim rejected by the California-based company.

The suit accuses Google of collecting “millions of biometric identifiers,” such as voice and facial details, from users in Texas in violation of a state law, and profiting as a result, attorney general Ken Paxton said in a release.

“Google’s indiscriminate collection of the personal information of Texans, including very sensitive information like biometric identifiers, will not be tolerated,” Paxton said.

Google rejected the accusation, promising to “set the record straight” in court.

“AG Paxton is once again mischaracterizing our products in another breathless lawsuit,” Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said in reply to an AFP inquiry.

Google Photos uses technology that groups similar faces to make it easier to find old pictures, but they are only visible to users and the feature is easily turned off, according to Castaneda.

“The same is true for Voice Match and Face Match on Nest Hub Max, which are off-by-default features that give users the option to let Google Assistant recognize their voice or face to show their information,” Castaneda said.

Conservative Republican Paxton has taken aim at tech firms in a slew of lawsuits, including a similar complaint against Facebook-parent Meta in February.

Without clear federal guidelines addressing how user data can be collected and used, several US states have passed their own rules, while states and consumer groups have filed multiple lawsuits on the matter.

Google Fined $162m By Indian Watchdog Over Market Dominance

Google on Friday, January 14, agreed to buy a central London building complex for $1 billion, but stressed it remained committed to new hybrid working patterns in the wake of Covid.
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

 

 

Google has been fined more than $160 million by India’s anti-trust watchdog after a probe found the tech behemoth was abusing its commanding position in the local smartphone market.

The California-based company’s Android mobile operating system is by far the dominant player in India and is run on 95 percent of all the country’s smartphones, according to research agency Counterpoint.

But the Competition Commission of India (CCI) said the operating system was configured to unlawfully crowd out rivals to YouTube, web browser Chrome and other popular Google apps.

Android had a suite of Google apps pre-installed on its phones, including the company’s own search engine, “which accorded significant competitive edge to Google’s search services over its competitors”, a CCI statement said late Thursday.

“Markets should be allowed to compete on merits and the onus is on (Google) that its conduct does not impinge this competition on merits,” it added.

The commission levied a fine of 13.4 billion rupees ($162 million) and instructed the company to allow Android users to remove pre-installed Google apps.

It also told Google not to enter into any agreement with smartphone makers that would encourage them to only sell Android-based devices or exclusively use its software.

Google faced a similar anti-trust ruling in the European Union that found the company had imposed “unlawful restrictions” on smartphone makers to benefit its search engine.

Last month the EU’s second-highest court upheld a $4.1 billion fine against the company.

Global regulators have followed suit, with Google facing a barrage of cases in the United States and Asia based on similar accusations.

India is home to the second-highest number of smartphone users in the world, after China.

Its smartphone market grew 27 percent year on year in 2021, according to Counterpoint, with annual sales exceeding 169 million units.

More than 60 percent of phones sold in the country come from leading Chinese manufacturers including Xiaomi and Oppo.

Apple remains a minor player in the budget-conscious market but has seen some inroads in recent years, and the company last month announced plans to locally manufacture its flagship iPhone 14.

Indian Watchdog Fine Google $162m Over Market Dominance

In this file photo taken on February 20, 2015, the Google logo features the Eiffel Tower at the Google campus in Mountain View, California. AFP

 

Google has been fined more than $160 million by India’s anti-trust watchdog after a probe found the tech behemoth was abusing its commanding position in the local smartphone market.

The California-based company’s Android mobile operating system is by far the dominant player in India and is run on 95 percent of all the country’s smartphones, according to research agency Counterpoint.

But the Competition Commission of India (CCI) said the operating system was configured to unlawfully crowd out rivals to YouTube, web browser Chrome and other popular Google apps.

Android had a suite of Google apps pre-installed on its phones, including the company’s own search engine, “which accorded significant competitive edge to Google’s search services over its competitors”, a CCI statement said late Thursday.

“Markets should be allowed to compete on merits and the onus is on (Google) that its conduct does not impinge this competition on merits,” it added.

The commission levied a fine of 13.4 billion rupees ($162 million) and instructed the company to allow Android users to remove pre-installed Google apps.

It also told Google not to enter into any agreement with smartphone makers that would encourage them to only sell Android-based devices or exclusively use its software.

Google faced a similar anti-trust ruling in the European Union that found the company had imposed “unlawful restrictions” on smartphone makers to benefit its search engine.

READ ALSOBiden Vows Close Cooperation With UK After Truss Quits

Last month the EU’s second-highest court upheld a $4.1 billion fine against the company.

Global regulators have followed suit, with Google facing a barrage of cases in the United States and Asia based on similar accusations.

India is home to the second-highest number of smartphone users in the world, after China.

Its smartphone market grew 27 percent year on year in 2021, according to Counterpoint, with annual sales exceeding 169 million units.

More than 60 percent of phones sold in the country come from leading Chinese manufacturers including Xiaomi and Oppo.

Apple remains a minor player in the budget-conscious market but has seen some inroads in recent years, and the company last month announced plans to locally manufacture its flagship iPhone 14.

AFP

Lai Mohammed Asks Google To Block ‘Terrorist’ Groups On YouTube

A file photo of the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.

 

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, on Thursday asked Google to block terrorists organisations from YouTube.

He made the request when a team from Google visited him in Abuja.

“We want Google to look into how to tackle the use of private and unlisted YouTube channels and YouTube livestreams by proscribed groups and terrorist organizations,” the Minister said, according to a statement signed by his spokesperson, Segun Adeyemi.

“Channels and emails containing names of proscribed groups and their affiliates should not be allowed on Google platforms,” he said.

Mohammed, who noted that Google is a platform of choice for IPOB, a proscribed terrorist group, implored the tech giant to deny IPOB the use of its platform for its acts of violence and destabilization.

READ ALSO: Terrorists’ Threat To Kidnap Buhari Is Laughable – Lai Mohammed

He said Nigerians are among the most vibrant social media users in the world, with over 100 million Internet users in the country, and that internet platforms such as Google, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and WhatsApp enable Nigerians to interact, share ideas……earn a living and participate in social and political affairs.

The Minister however observed that those platforms are also used by unscrupulous persons or groups for subversive and nefarious activities.

Mohammed said the Federal Nigerian Government recently proposed a “Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/ Internet Intermediaries” in an attempt to provide a framework for collaboratively protecting Nigerian users of Internet platforms.

“This code couldn’t have come at a better time, as the country prepares for general elections next year. We are committed to working with platforms like yours as well as the civil society, lawyers, media practitioners and other relevant stakeholders to ensure a responsible use of the Internet and to protect our people from the harmful effects of social media,” he said.

In his remarks,Google Regional Dir.,Sub-Saharan Africa,Govt. Affairs and Public Policy, Mr. Charles Murito,said the platform has introduced a prog. called “Trusted Flaggers” for citizens trained to track and engage with online contents in order to flag contents of serious concern

“As I mentioned earlier, we share the same sentiments, we share the same goals and objectives and we do not want our platform to be used for ill purposes,” he said.

On his part, Google Government Affairs and Public Policy Manager, Mr. Adewolu Adene, said “Equiano”, a subsea cable which recently berthed in Nigeria from Portugal, is aimed at enhancing connectivity and access to the internet as well as to drive down the cost of data,in order to create jobs and facilitate the transfer of knowledge.

He said through the Google News Initiative Challenge, 30 media platforms, with 5 from Nigeria, including the Dubawa fact-checking platform, would be awarded a $3.2 million grant in recognition of their innovative work in information dissemination.

Mr. Adene also pledged the readiness of Google to work with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to digitize the recently-repatriated artifacts in order to preserve and market them to a global audience through Google Arts and Culture.

Google-Parent Alphabet’s Profit Slips As Growth Slows

Google on Friday, January 14, agreed to buy a central London building complex for $1 billion, but stressed it remained committed to new hybrid working patterns in the wake of Covid.
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

 

Google-parent Alphabet reported Tuesday its profit and revenue slipped as the internet giant’s long sizzling ad revenue growth cooled, but the market seemed relieved the news wasn’t worse.

Big tech firms are grappling with multiple problems, from inflation to the war in Ukraine, and results in general for the quarter have not been great so far.

Alphabet’s revenue in the latest quarter grew 13 percent to $69.7 billion, with its global search and cloud computing services bringing in most of the money — but this was under analysts’ expectations.

“I think it’s a good time to sharpen our focus,” Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai told an earnings call. “It’s a chance to digest and make sure we are working on the right things.”

Net income at Alphabet fell 13 percent year-over-year to $16 billion in the latest quarter, but the flow of online ad dollars that fuels the company’s fortunes has slowed as inflation, war and other troubles vex the overall economy.

“Google’s earnings miss this quarter proves it’s not immune to the challenges facing the digital advertising industry at large,” said analyst Evelyn Mitchell.

“Still, with its tremendous market share in search advertising, Google is relatively well positioned to weather the rough waters that lie ahead,” she added.

The internet giant’s stock was up about 4.5 percent in after-hours trading, as the market appeared relieved by the results.

– Slowing hiring –
Google was also paying more to acquire online “traffic” from which it makes money, the earnings report showed.

Meanwhile, revenue from ads on video-sharing platform YouTube was up only slightly in the quarter. Google has looked to YouTube as a source of growth as people spend growing amounts of time looking at online videos.

“In the second quarter our performance was driven by Search and Cloud,” Pichai said.

Earnings season has gotten off to a rough start with less than stellar news from both Netflix and Snapchat’s parent firm, a decidedly different world than seen during the pandemic surge.

Netflix reported last week losing subscribers for the second quarter in a row as the streaming giant battles fierce competition and viewer belt tightening, but the company assured investors of better days ahead.

The loss of 970,000 paying customers in the most recent quarter was not as big as expected, and left Netflix with just shy of 221 million subscribers.

The company said in its earnings report that it had expected to gain a million paid subscribers in the current quarter.

At the same time, Snapchat’s owner announced plans last week to “substantially” slow recruitment after bleak results wiped some 30 percent off the stock price of the tech firm, which is facing difficulties on several fronts.

Snap reported that its loss in the recently ended quarter nearly tripled to $422 million despite revenue increasing 13 percent under conditions “more challenging” than expected.

In addition to current troubling economic conditions, analysts pointed to longer term issues for Google.

“The revenue is showcasing that they are reaching near saturation of their market,” said analyst Rob Enderle. “Their opportunity to grow is going to decrease over time.”

According to Insider Intelligence, Google is expected to reap nearly $175 billion in net ad revenue in 2022, or 29 percent of the global digital ad pie.

Alphabet, with more than 174,000 employees worldwide, has recruited throughout the pandemic, but it recently announced a slowdown in hiring for the rest of the year.

“Although we expect the pace of headcount growth to moderate next year, we will continue hiring for critical roles, particularly focused on top engineering and technical talent,” said chief financial officer Ruth Porat.

Many other tech companies have decided to lay off staff, including Netflix and Twitter, or slow the pace of hiring, such as Microsoft and Snap.

Kizz Daniel’s ‘Buga’ Is The Most Googled Song In Nigeria

Kizz Daniel in his ‘Buga’ video.

 

 

Kizz Daniel’s 2022 hit song ‘Buga’ with Tekno is the most googled song in Nigeria.

Since its release, ‘Buga’ has broken several records. The dance challenges on Tiktok and Instagram helped people enjoy the little more than three-minute song better, which has increased its popularity.

The song has caught the attention of both young and older demographics and it has also enjoyed domestic and international acceptance. Notable personalities that have danced to the song include Liberian President, George Weah and former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.

‘Buga’ was released on 3rd May 2022, it became the most popular song in Nigeria and was the most Shazamed song in the world and the song also held the number one position in over ten countries on the Apple Music Charts.

Its position as the most Googled song in Nigeria in the first half of 2022 highlights its wide reach and is immutable proof of its status.

The colourful video of the song, directed by TG Omori, was shot in a carnival-like setting, displaying various countries’ flags. Since its release, it has garnered over 29 million views.

The music video also features famous skit maker, Chukwuemeka Ejekwu, best known with his Oga Sabinus moniker. The skit maker won the best online content at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards.

The ‘Woju’ singer started his music career in 2013 when he signed a record deal with G-Worldwide Entertainment; he left the label following a well-publicised contract dispute and court case.

The former “Kiss Daniel” founded his record label, the Fly Boy Inc record label, in November 2017.

Other songs on the most googled list include:

1. Kizz Daniel & Tekno – ‘Buga’
2. Mavins’ Crayon, Ayra Starr, LADIPOE, Magixx & Boy Spyce – ‘Overdose’
3. Ruger – ‘Girlfriend’
4. Rema – ‘Calm Down’
5. Pheelz feat. BNXN – ‘Finesse’
6. Ruger – ‘Dior’
7. Portable ft. Olamide & Poco Lee – ‘Zazu Zeh’
8. Kizz Daniel – ‘Pour Me Water’
9. Skiibii – ‘Baddest boy’
10. Asake – ‘Peace Be Unto You’

Google To Open Payments App To Meet EU Regulations

Google on Friday, January 14, agreed to buy a central London building complex for $1 billion, but stressed it remained committed to new hybrid working patterns in the wake of Covid.
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

 

Google has announced that it will open its Google Play application to alternative payment methods in order to meet new EU regulations.

The issue of alternative payment methods on app marketplaces has been contentious, with Apple losing a legal battle last year in the United States against Fortnite-maker Epic Games on the question.

In a Tuesday blog post, Google said it recognised that the recently adopted Digital Markets Act would require Google Play and other industry players to adjust the operating models of their online marketplaces for European Users.

“As part of our efforts to comply with these new rules, we are announcing a new program to support billing alternatives for EEA users,” said Estelle Werth, Google’s director for EU Government Affairs and Public Policy.

“This will mean developers of non-gaming apps can offer their users in the EEA an alternative to Google Play’s billing system when they are paying for digital content and services,” she added.

Those developers will get a reduction in the fee they pay to have their app appear on Google Play but will still have to pay Google.

Game developers will continue to be required to use Google Play’s billing system for the moment, but it said it planned to have alternatives available before the new EU regulations go into force.

The level of the fees charged by both tech giants on transactions made on Apple’s App Store and Google Play was at the heart of the dispute between Epic Games and Apple.

The tech giants contend these are appropriate to ensure their online marketplaces are safe and they can continue to develop their operating systems.

Google said the fee would be reduced by three percentage points.

For apps that generate more than $1 million in revenue per year that means the fee will drop to 27 percent of the transaction.

For smaller developers, the fee will drop to 12 percent.

The changes apply only in the European Economic Area.

The Dutch competition authority earlier this year required Apple to open the App Store to alternative payment methods in the Netherlands.