As Apple and Epic Games continue to duke it out over the iPhone maker’s 30 percent cut of in-app purchases, Google has released a plan to appease all parties on its platform, but it doesn’t go far enough.
To start, Android has always allowed people to download apps from third-party sources like the broader internet and Samsung’s App Gallery. However, beginning with Android 12 next year, Google plans to make it easier for Android users to add more app stores to their phones.
The company didn’t say much more than that, however. This tactic is the opposite of Apple’s approach, which only allows developers to use its own App Store.
The Google Play Store is about to become more like the App Store.
Beyond this announcement, Google has also reaffirmed its commitment to taking a 30 percent cut from app and in-app sales in the Google Play Store.
This means that apps in the main Android app market should be safer since everything in the store will be Google-approved and use the tech giant’s payment method.
Previously, Google was pretty loose with its in-app payment rules, so many developers could use their payment systems to avoid Google’s app tax from within the Play Store. Now, Google says it’s going to enforce all developers who wish to remain in the Play Store to use its payment platform.
Google suspended the 30 percent Play Store tax during the COVID-19 pandemic to help out developers. Still, on September 30th, 2021, it’s returning in full force, and all apps within the platform are expected to use Google’s approved payment method.
This is pretty much exactly like Apple’s current approach with the App Store.
What does this mean for Android users?
The key difference is that Google also allows people to download and sell apps from third-party sources, so if a company like Epic doesn’t want to pay the tech giant’s fee, it can create its own game store and release Fortnite that way.
On the surface, Google’s implementation seems like a fair alternative, but it really just gives established companies a Play Store fee evasion strategy. Smaller independent apps and games without an established fanbase are stuck using the Play Store since they might not have the branding or the money needed to convince users to leave Google’s walled-garden to download their game.
That’s not to say that developers can’t make money from within Apple and Google’s app ecosystems, but this new implementation isn’t as good as the search giant makes it seem. Google wants to be perceived as the good guy compared to Apple in the Epic Games battle, and chances are, it made the video game publisher happy with this move.
Overall, this changes nothing except resulting in the Play Store being more restricted with the trade-off that sometime in the fall of 2021, there will be improvements regarding how Android interacts with third-party app stores.