Google just announced that they will now test including direct downloads of apps from Google’s search app thereby bypassing the need to go to Google Play. Many stories have been written about how Google is facing antitrust issues due to their anti-competitive behavior around Google Play services. It’s not hard to see how enabling direct downloads from Google’s search app puts other stores at a direct disadvantage as well. It’s also not hard to see how the EU might view this type of move if Google isn’t offering the same opportunities to other stores.
Perhaps even more scrutiny will come as a result it was recently revealed that Android is a massive source of revenue for Google.
Google’s attempt to monopolize both the distribution and discovery channels for apps is not in and of itself surprising. Large players in other categories have attempted this before before being disrupted, most notably the music industry. The labels controlled the content, distribution and discovery of music. While the number of labels competing with each other made this example different than what we see with Google, it was eventually technical innovation that broke the stranglehold. Here, Google is using technology too, to tighten the noose on alternative channels and force content producers to use their channels.
A more recent, large antitrust example, would perhaps be the case of Internet Explorer and Microsoft. That comparison holds today for Google Play and Android, where Google as the Android owner forces Google Play through archaic constructions and rules. This step that Google is now trying, would be similar to Microsoft hijacking the url for say productivity software and always changing it to Microsoft. Surely this will be the nail in the coffin for antitrust lawyers if Google goes ahead with this?
As a company that thrives working with players who seek a world less influenced by Google, we can confirm that the movement to break free is growing stronger every day. We cannot but quote Princess Leia on this one: