Match Group, owner of Tinder, reaches settlement in antitrust dispute with Google's app store
Match Group, a prominent player in the online dating industry, has withdrawn a high-profile antitrust lawsuit against Google's app store just days before the scheduled trial in a San Francisco federal court. The settlement reached between Match Group and Google addresses allegations that Google's app store terms had an anti-competitive impact.
Under the agreement, Match Group gains the flexibility to offer its users alternative methods for in-app content payments, without mandating the use of Google's proprietary payment channels.
This resolution highlights Google's success in reducing the number of plaintiffs it would face in the impending trial, set to commence on Monday. Previously, a group of 52 state attorneys general opted to withdraw from the case following a separate undisclosed settlement, leaving Epic Games, the creator of the popular video game "Fortnite," as the last remaining adversary for Google in this high-profile trial centered on the control app store owners exert over app developers.
Complaints from developers about exorbitant app store fees, charged by entities like Google, have been growing in intensity in recent years, coupled with allegations about other restrictive app store terms. In 2020, Epic Games initiated antitrust lawsuits against both Apple and Google, and the Apple case might soon be under consideration by the Supreme Court.
Match Group filed its own lawsuit against Google last year, and the cases were subsequently merged. The outcomes of these app store cases hold significant implications for the livelihoods of app developers and the flow of billions of dollars in economic activity.
As part of the settlement between Match Group and Google, Match's apps will be included in Google's user choice billing program, which was introduced to a limited number of Android developers in the past year. This program empowers Match to offer its payment channels to users with lower in-app payment fees compared to Google's charges for subscriptions and one-time transactions, as outlined in a letter to Match shareholders on Tuesday.
While Match's apps will continue to support Google's payment channels during checkout, transactions processed through those channels will be subject to Google's standard in-app payment fees of 15% for subscriptions and 30% for standalone purchases. In contrast, in-app payment fees tied to Match's channels will be set at 11% and 26%, respectively.
Moreover, the settlement entails the return of $40 million held in escrow for the litigation to Match Group. A Google spokesperson expressed satisfaction with the settlement, emphasizing that it ensures the continued delivery of a secure, seamless, and high-quality experience for shared users on Google Play, while also allowing Google to invest in the Android ecosystem and deliver value throughout an app's lifecycle.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, however, remains resolute in the face of the Match settlement. He vowed to go to trial against Google alone, rejecting Google's "user choice billing" and asserting that it enables Google to control, monitor, and impose taxes on transactions between users and developers.