The Six Five team does a deep dive into the anti-trust lawsuits being filed against Google.
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Daniel Newman: Android getting the big probe from 36 states, going after Android for its abuses as a platform. Pat, I’m at a little bit of a loss that that Android would be the first to have to experience this particular undressing.
Patrick Moorhead: Well, the great thing is that you’re not. The first company to experience this was Apple with its App Store and if you’ve paying attention at all to what’s going on at the federal level and also at different countries with regards to Apple and the App Store. It’s very similar. It’s about how much power Google has with Android related to its developers, and how much it charges. I think what really raised the ire was this requirement for Android developers to provide a Google checkout as a mandatory. Now, unlike Apple, you could have the other option of having your own checkout, but there was a mandatory piece in there that said you had to at least give people the ability to check out with Google Pay, wherever Google Pay was offered. I think that’s what’s going on.
As a backdrop, I will say that Android versus iOS is really different. Android and Google do allow you to sideload applications, which Apple does not. Apple charges most people 30%. Apple does provide the smaller vendors 15% and Google is similar in that it offers 15% to 30% as well. But what Android used to offer, that it’s trying to push on people right now, is that you have to have an option. So there’s still a 0% option if the customers would choose to use, let’s say Epic Games checkout. So it is very different, but no, getting 36 states on your back is really a precursor, I think, to getting the entire federal government on your case. I mean, Google’s already being probed. And I forget whether it’s the department of justice or the FTC there, they’re kind of taking turns on big tech, but anyways, we’ll have to see where this goes. Google has more lawyers likely than those 36 states. It has a lot of money to wait this out, but I really think what raised the ire was all of the investigation into Apple.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, I think as a whole … and when I said first, what I really meant is they’re the first that’s really getting the full public suit brought against the probes are going on, but the suit’s being raised by the 36 states. I guess what was really interesting to me was how would a suit be raised on one and not the other? Because it’s very clear that the bad behavior that they’re suggesting is being done on both sides and arguably when it comes to Apple, you have no sideloading option. You cannot stand on your own. You cannot have an app loaded onto your iPhone that does not go through the store, the way with Android, you can. Of course there’s security risks and vulnerabilities, there’s quality control that cannot be managed when you do it that way but it’s a very interesting impasse between the companies.
The other thing that I would say is that I think this has a lot to do as well with the potential that Google has been trying to mitigate the little bit of competition it has. For instance, Samsung being one of the largest providers of Android-based devices, it was alleged that Google tried to basically stop, or shutter, or tell Samsung to stop having its own app store. Just use the Play store. That to me, I said, that was a very … if that’s true, and again, I can’t say for sure if it is, but that was what was alleged. If that was true. I said, “That to me is much more damning.” Because here’s my issue, Pat, and here’s my thing with the whole antitrust thing, and we’ll talk about this a little more when we talk about Biden’s executive orders. What is innovation worth to the market and should a company be able to profit for being successful, for being innovative and developing solutions that people use? I mean, the challenge is yes, it’s a two-horse race. You’re either on Android or Apple. That’s where we’re at right now. Could another company enter the fray? Maybe, maybe Microsoft that’d be the only one that I would say has a chance to potentially play here, but should it be free? What percentage is fair? You’ve built an ecosystem.
So if you’re a developer and this is a lot like the issue with Amazon, if you’re a reseller, Amazon gives you a platform, you can start a business and start selling tomorrow, be searchable, be find-able, do your commerce, make money. They take a piece of it. If you wanted to launch your own website, start your own store, sell your own products, do your own warehousing, do your own … All the things, the value adds that Amazon does, well, this is the same thing with software through these Play stores and through the Apple stores, these companies can become instantly relevant, searchable, find-able and successful and used because if you couldn’t use them on these devices, these products would never survive.
So, the balance here is that these companies aren’t entirely villains. Do they need to be managed better? That’s what we need to look at. Do we want to shut these things down? Heck no, it would ruin everything. So there’s a lot to explore here, Pat. I think we should come back to this one, talk more about it. It looks like you want to circle back the wagons on this one a little bit?
Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You brought up some great points, Daniel, and it’s funny, just to put this in perspective for everybody, I think the debate is closed market, free market, and are you a utility or not? And then what does this mean to competition? if there’s not a lot of choices and you’re forced to go through certain things, the theory is that competition goes down. One thing that does annoy me related to Apple, we’re talking about Google, is that Apple really won’t even talk about how much it is invested in its store, for security, for storage, for hosting, for pairing, any of that stuff, because they don’t want anybody to know how much money they make. Now, does Apple deserve credit for creating the concept of a closed app store? I think they do. Then the question is, if they’re not investing in it, they’re not adding to it and they’re essentially squatting on it. Is that good for the market? Is that good for competition? I don’t have the exact answers yet, but I think we’ve posed the right questions. That’s my only follow-up here.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, no, I think that’s great, Pat. Like I said, I think we can come back to this, there’s going to be more episodes talking about antitrust. This is the only thing on the planet that the two parties could seemingly have some level of agreement on right now, is that big tech is the bad guy. I think that needs to be discussed more because this technology changes our lives.