Google expands its test of Play Store billing alternatives to the US
Google’s pilot for Play Store billing alternatives is finally coming Stateside. The company is expanding its “user choice billing” test to the US, Brazil and South Africa. As before, you’ll be asked to choose either Google’s in-app purchasing system or something else (such as the developer’s) when you buy in-app content.
There are more apps involved in the test, too. On top of Spotify, which started rolling out an early implementation of billing choices this week, Bumble is now set to participate. The dating app will offer your pick of payment systems in some countries in the “coming months.”
The official terms of Google’s Play Store billing choice system cut Google’s service fee by four percent. It’s still making 11 or 26 percent from every transaction through these alternatives. In a response to TechCrunch, however, Spotify said its deal with Google met its expectations for fairness. It’s not known if Spotify received any special conditions.
The test was originally announced in March. In September, Google said the pilot would initially serve Play Store shoppers in Australia, the European Economic Area, India, Indonesia and Japan. Google says “positive” early feedback from developers and users prompted the expansion.
This experiment isn’t altruistic. Along with Apple, Google faces pressure from regulators and politicians that believe mobile OS creators are abusing their dominance to rob users of options for in-app payments. It’s also no secret that large developers and media outlets, including Spotify, Epic Games and The New York Times, are banding together to demand the freedom to use alternative billing. Bumble’s main rival, Match Group, is even taking action against Google over alleged antitrust violations. In theory, the test helps Google avoid (or at least mitigate) fines and regulatory crackdowns it would otherwise face.
Update 11/10 4:25PM ET: We’ve updated the story with Google’s correct cut of in-app sales, and clarified that the remaining percentage is for transactions through those other billing systems.
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