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Australia Blog

Supporting the Thriving and Competitive Mobile Ecosystem in Australia

Australia has always been an important place for Google. It’s where we set up an office in the early years as a company, where we developed Google Maps, and where we’ve grown to become one of the country’s major economic contributors. We’ve also played a central role in supporting the country’s thriving mobile industry over many years. Ahead of the trial of a new case before the Federal Court of Australia, we want to share more about the immense value that Android and Google Play provide for Australians.

Android enables anybody, even competitors, to build amazing devices without any requirement to pre-load or download our apps, or use our services. This has helped create more choices, reduce device prices, and democratise access to smartphones. Today, 14 million Australians (and over 3 billion people worldwide) use Android devices from many different manufacturers. Android also makes life easier for Australian developers, enabling them to build a single app and distribute it across an array of devices and app stores on the platform. This has removed barriers to entry, and made it less expensive for Australian entrepreneurs to launch digital businesses and find a global audience.

Among other things, the ability for people to access a range of high-quality apps is critical to Android’s success and ability to compete with Apple’s iPhone. This is where app stores come in to provide a trusted place to learn about and engage with great content. In 2009, we launched Google Play in Australia as one of the many ways for Android consumers and developers to discover apps and transact. Since then, Australian app developers have found great success on the platform. It’s estimated that there are more than 29,000 apps from approximately 12,200 Australia-based developers on Google Play. In 2023, these developers earned around AU$2.4 billion with the help of Android’s global reach – illustrated by the fact that around one billion Android devices overseas are using apps made by Australian developers. Here are some other facts relevant to the trial:

  • Australian developers have many ways to distribute their apps.
    Australian developers have many options for app distribution across mobile platforms, gaming consoles, PCs, and the web. This has led to robust competition to attract the best apps and games. Unlike on iOS devices, over 70% of Android devices in Australia come with two or more app stores pre-installed, and users can install others if they want. Developers can also distribute their apps directly from their website to Android users without an app store in a process known as sideloading. Epic Games, for example, makes their popular Fortnite app available to Australian Android users through the Samsung Galaxy Store and through sideloading. Google Play also competes with Apple’s App Store for both consumers and developers – and evidence shows the companies have been consistently improving their offerings and lowering fees in response to each other’s moves.
  • Android has a multi-layered approach to security but this lawsuit puts user safety at risk.
    We are committed to keeping Android users safe even while giving them choice. Google Play Protect scans 125 billion apps per day, regardless of whether they were installed from Google Play or another Android app store. As another layer of protection, when someone tries to install an app for the first time directly from a developer’s website, Android notifies the user and asks them to verify they are doing so intentionally. We do this to ensure that users understand the risks of installing software onto their mobile device directly from the web. We’ve streamlined this user prompt to make it a seamless process. However, Epic Games wants to water down or entirely eliminate these user notifications. That might help their business, but at the expense of stripping away critical security and privacy protections that keep Australian users safe from harms like malware, malicious software, and dishonest billing practices.
  • Google Play’s fees are the lowest of any major app store.
    We fund our investments in Android and Google Play in part through a service fee that applies when a developer sells in-app digital goods or services on Google Play. We think this is a sensible model. We make money only when a developer does, so our success is aligned with theirs and we are incentivised to invest in improving the platform for developers. There are many ways to monetise an app and 96% of developers in Australia pay no service fees at all. Even with all the tools and features we provide, Google Play fees are the lowest among major app stores. Of the few Australian developers subject to a service fee, 99% qualify for a service fee of 15% or less. Over the years, our fees have only ever gone down, even as the value we provide to developers has increased.
  • Google Play provides a wide range of tools and features, not just payment processing.
    Google Play invests heavily in supporting developers at every stage of an app’s journey, providing an array of tools and features to help launch and grow successful businesses. Even after an app is installed, Google Play provides ongoing support to developers such as facilitating regular app updates and pushing critical security fixes, as well as a suite of powerful tools that enable developers to engage and retain users. Over the years, Epic Games has tried repeatedly to compare our service fee to the rates charged by payment processors like PayPal, Stripe and Square. But these companies simply don’t provide tools and features that resemble what Google Play provides (such as distributing apps to billions of consumers). Just as it costs money to develop, operate, and market an app, it costs money for an app store to provide our services. Epic Games clearly understands that app stores need a sustainable business model – they take a cut on game sales in their Epic Games Store – but they want a free ride on Google Play.
  • Australian consumers have choices in how to pay for digital purchases.
    Like many platforms, Google Play does have an integrated billing system that lets developers seamlessly transact with customers, but Australians still have many choices in how they pay for digital content. For one, Australia was one of the first countries where we piloted a system for users to choose between Google Play’s billing system and an alternative billing system of the developer’s choosing. Additionally, if a developer sells digital content to users outside of Google Play, including on the web or a rival app store, the user can still consume that content in the app downloaded from Google Play. And finally, if consumers download an app from a competing app store or directly from a developer’s website, they pay with the developer or app store’s billing system of choice.

It’s clear that Android and Google Play provide more choice and openness than any other major mobile platform and it’s a model that’s good for Australian developers and consumers. We will continue to vigorously defend our right to a sustainable business model that enables us to keep users safe, partner with developers to grow their businesses, and keep the Android ecosystem thriving and healthy for all Australians.