Tinder’s parent company, Match Group, is launching a legal offensive against Google and its payment monopoly on Android. An action reminiscent of that of Epic Games (Fortnite) against Apple, for similar motivations.
There was the trial of the payment system integrated into the App Store, during the highly publicized legal dispute between Apple and Epic Games. There will be its counterpart on the side of Google Play. In a complaint filed on May 9, 2022, the Match Group company launched an offensive against the payment system developed by the Mountain View firm for the Android ecosystem.
As in the case that opposed Apple to Epic Games, the heart of the problem concerns the hegemony of Google’s payment system to pay for purchases in Android applications, and the drain that the American company allows itself by taking a commission of a certain percentage on each transaction.
Google is not unaware of the criticisms leveled against its payment system. Like Apple, the group has maneuvered to mitigate the criticisms leveled against it. In the spring of 2021, the company announced that the commission would drop from 30% to 15% for developers generating less than $1 million per year.
The company then dropped again at least, in the fall of 2021, this time in terms of subscriptions. Since the beginning of 2022, the new rate applies from the first month of subscription, instead of triggering after one year. At the same time, it must also take into account the regulatory and judicial landscape of the countries in which it operates.
Colossal financial stakes behind these complaints
Unknown to the general public, the Match Group company is nevertheless behind a vast empire of ” meet “. It is she who controls the dating services Tinder, Match and OKCupid, which are giants in their field. Giants whose access is of course paying. However, given the success of these applications, Match Group is of course not in the threshold of one million dollars per year.
This is why Match Group is fighting, with others, such as Spotify and Epic Games, the cuts announced by Google and Apple. For these very large companies which are united, these reductions are diversions intended to discourage the small developers from complaining about the hegemony of the systems of payment of Google and Apple.
Both Google and Apple justify the existence of these commissions as a means of covering the operating costs of their application stores and ensuring the development of a safe, efficient and homogeneous payment system. They are against the emergence of alternatives, distinctly because it will fragment the market and cause security risks.
We find the same argumentative logic with Apple Play on the iPhone. It is true that the Cupertino company restricts access to the NFC chip, which prevents the emergence of rival services. This potentially constitutes an anti-competitive practice – this is the feeling of Brussels, which is investigating – but it is clear that the user experience is more successful than on Android.
There are in fact contradictory and competing arguments. There is above all a history of big money. The applications we are talking about (this is also the case for Epic Games, which operates the very commendable video game that is fortnite) make a lot of money and, a commission, whether it’s 30%, 15% or some other amount representing millions of dollars.