Tinder sues Google for Play Store fees

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Match Group, the company that owns Tinder (as well as several other dating platforms like Meetic, OkCupid, Match.com itself), denounced Google for violation of the antitrust rules on competition: the question, in a nutshell, once again concerns in-app purchases.

Basically, already in 2020 Google had said that in the future all the in-app transactions of the catalog software in the Play Store would have to be processed through the Google payment infrastructure itself, while so far this restriction had only applied to certain types of transactions; this rule was initially expected to go into effect on September 30, 2021, but Google had since postponed it to 1st of June. In short, here we are.

The complaint says Google reps “assured” Tinder that it could continue to use its own payment system, but then apparently changed its mind. Now Tinder says it was threatened with deletion from the Play Store if it does not adapt, and that Google has already begun to reject app updates that do not implement the change.

Contacted by Engadget, Match through its press office says the lawsuit is the “last resort” she has left to try to resolve the issue, after several unsuccessful attempts through other channels. For its part, Google says to begin with that Match services can pay commissions equal to 15%, which, they observe, are the lowest among the main app stores on the scene; and that, being Android a system by nature free, it is always possible to distribute the app through other channels – for example alternative shops, or even sideloading. Google’s words hint quite clearly that the privileges of being on the Play Store have significant value, and Google wants this to be recognized.

But Google’s counter-offensive didn’t end there. The company also posted an article on its official blog, The Keywordsigned by the Vice President of Government Affairs & Public Policy calling Match “a cynical campaign against Google Play”. Find the complete intervention by following the SOURCE link at the bottom of the article, but this step is particularly effective in explaining the position of the colossus:

Match Group would like you to believe that everything Google Play provides is a payment processing system. This is simply not true, and Match Group knows it. Match Group knows that Google Play provides tools and a global distribution platform that helps developers grow their businesses. And Match Group knows this because they have used these tools and our platform to create a highly successful global business. They want to access Google Play’s global distribution platform and its users, and they want to misuse Google’s large investments in the platform, and they want to do it for free.

Google’s arguments against Match Group are pretty solid and compelling, but timing plays against Mountain View to some extent. The controversy against app store fees is increasingly heated, fueled in particular by Epic’s high-profile lawsuit against Apple and, to a lesser extent, Google. Google’s position is somewhat less serious than Apple’s because, as Google notes, Android is a much freer and more versatile platform than iOS.

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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise