From materials featured in Epic’s antitrust case against Google, it became known about the actions of the search giant aimed at suppressing competing app stores. Google has reportedly launched its Premier Device Program since 2019, in which smartphone manufacturers receive a large share of the revenue in exchange for ditching third-party app stores on their devices.
Google demanded that members of the Premier Device Program refuse to pre-install app stores with rights to install APK files. Note that the companies participating in the program receive 12% of Google search revenue, compared to 8% for the rest of the companies. Google sweetened the deal even further for LG and Motorola, promising 3 to 6 percent of the amount spent by owners of their devices on the Play Store.
It is noted that the Premier Device Program was not publicly known because Google had reasons to hide it. According to Epic Games, this clearly demonstrates the company’s anti-competitive behavior and attempts to suppress competing sources of content distribution.
Google wants to team up with Tencent to take over Epic Games
Google executives discussed the possibility of cooperation with the Chinese gaming giant Tencent; in the issue of buying a portion of Epic Games shares or a possible hostile takeover of the company. This became known from court documents during the hearing in the case of Epic v. Google. According to the court ruling, the documents of the case are no longer classified, in part or in full.
Earlier it became known that at some stage of the conflict, Google was thinking about taking over Epic Games. The search giant acknowledged that an opponent might not accept such an offer, so alternatives were considered. One such option was the rapprochement with Tencent, which had a minority stake in Epic. Google could either buy out a stake in Tencent’s assets; or team up with the Chinese side to acquire 100% of Epic Games. Tencent, one of the world’s largest game developers and publishers, acquired a 40 percent stake in Epic in 2012; with Epic CEO Tim Sweeney retaining a majority stake.
At the trial, Epic Games representatives revealed some other details, for example, about the relationship between Google and Apple. In 2018, representatives of the two companies held a meeting to discuss the growth of revenue from search services. Apple has received large payouts for setting Google as the default search engine in the Safari browser on the iPhone. After the meeting, an Apple spokesperson suggested that the head of the Google delegation should unite and “work as if we were one company” to counter attempts by players like Epic Games to lower commissions in app stores, as well as to strengthen the fight against alternative mobile software catalogs.