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Epic's proposed remedies are bad for everyone but Epic

Last month, Epic Games asked a U.S. federal court to impose harmful and unwarranted changes to Android and Google Play that would undermine the privacy, security, and overall experience of consumers, developers, and device manufacturers. Not only do Epic’s demands go far beyond the scope of the recent U.S. trial verdict — which we will be challenging — but they are also unnecessary due to the settlement we reached last year with State Attorneys General from every state and multiple territories.

We recently shared with the court why we strongly object to Epic’s proposal — and at a hearing later this week, economic experts will reinforce the reasons why Epic’s proposed remedies are problematic and unnecessary. This includes:

  • Epic’s proposal puts Android users’ security at risk on third party app stores: Epic’s proposal removes Google’s ability to implement trust and safety measures that keep Android users safe. Unlike iOS, Android enables OEMs to preload third party app stores and allows users to download additional app stores directly. To maintain a positive user experience while also providing choice, Android incorporates common-sense measures to protect user security and privacy – measures which would no longer be allowed under this proposal.
  • Epic’s proposal hurts the privacy of Android users: Under Epic’s proposal, Google would be forced to tell any and all third party app stores which apps a user has installed on their phone through Google Play. It would wrongly expose a person’s personal apps usage – even for topics like religion, politics, or health — for Epic’s gain. This is a clear violation of user privacy.
  • Epic’s proposal leaves people vulnerable to malicious apps: Unlike on iOS, Android users have the option to sideload apps, meaning they can install an app directly from a developer’s website without going through an app store. We’ve implemented important protections to ensure users are still protected while enjoying choice in apps. However, Epic’s proposal would force Google to remove them — severely curtailing our ability to protect users from potentially malicious apps.
  • Epic’s proposal reduces developers’ control over their app distribution: Developers have many options for app distribution on Android, but when they choose to use Google Play, they know the trust and safety rules that keep our platform safe. However, Epic wants to force all other developers to publish their intellectual property through multiple channels without their consent. Under this proposal, developers may suddenly find their app on a store without the same user protections or in a store that carries inappropriate or offensive content they do not want to be associated with.
  • Epic’s proposal cuts off key business opportunities for developers: As part of the State Settlement, we have already agreed not to sign wide-ranging exclusivity agreements with developers to launch their full app catalog on Google Play. But Epic wants to entirely restrict Google’s ability to offer any financial incentives to developers to distribute their apps in the Play store, even on a non-exclusive and app-by-app basis. Epic’s proposed remedy would also prevent Google from working with developers to provide any exclusive content through apps distributed in the Play Store. This is a common strategy used to engage users and grow a developer’s business, yet Epic is seeking to limit this important opportunity for all developers.
  • Epic’s proposal hurts device manufacturers: Part of the State AG settlement ensures that any app store is free to compete for placement on an Android device. But Epic’s proposal would cut Google Play out of this process, reducing competition and therefore enabling rival app stores to underbid. This would reduce what OEMs can earn from pre-installation and placement on their devices, cutting into already narrow OEM margins in a way that could raise consumer prices.

Epic’s proposed remedies were all clearly designed to only benefit itself. They would harm the Android ecosystem, and competition in general, by creating security and privacy risks, depriving developers and OEMs of key business opportunities, and undercutting Google’s ability to support our investments in Android and Google Play. We will continue to vigorously defend our right to a sustainable business model that enables us to keep people safe, partner with developers and OEMs to innovate and grow their businesses, and keep the Android ecosystem thriving and healthy for everyone.

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