Apple gets most of the attention when it comes to digital app stores and any associated fees, but the company is not alone. Google has similar policies, and now the company may be ready to lean into them even more.
Update (09/28/2020): This has turned out to be the case, with some important details revealed today by The Verge. First, Google is indeed going to make it a stated requirement that developers use Google’s own billing system, the Google Play billing system, for in-app purchases and payments. Google says all apps that have in-app purchases/payments will need to have this in place by September 30, 2021.
That’s not all, though. The report also indicates that, while Google is making the Google Play billing system more of a requirement, it’s also going to make using third-party app stores on Android devices even easier. Google says these changes for third-party digital stores will be revealed in the months ahead, and the changes will be made available for developers (and eventually users) with the release of Android 12 sometime next year.
The original article continues below.
To be clear, Google’s 30% fee in its Play Store has been around for years. However, the primary difference in this case between Apple and Google is that the latter company offers multiple ways for a customer to pay. So, unlike the App Store, companies like Netflix and others can offer up direct payments. Something that Apple doesn’t allow. But, if someone does use Google’s own payment option then Google gets 30% — just like Apple.
Now, according to Bloomberg, Google wants to make some changes. The company will reportedly be emphasizing its own payment option, suggesting it could be making moves so Android customers use their Play Account more often. And, as such, that would give Google a cut of the profits.
Google says that its policies have always stated that, for in-app purchases, apps must use a customer’s Play Account for charges. This report states that Google is going to make it a requirement from this point on to use the Play Account for in-app purchases, rather than a lofty suggestion.
However, Google believes it’s time to clarify the situation a bit more:
As an open platform, Android allows multiple app stores. In fact, most Android devices come with at least two stores right out of the box, and users can install others. For developers who choose to distribute their apps on Google Play, our policy has always required them to use Play’s billing system if they offer in-app purchases of digital goods. We are always working with our partners to clarify these policies and ensure they are applied equitably and reasonably.
The report does note that, once these changes are rolled out, major companies will have time to adapt. Basically, they won’t have to fear getting their apps removed from the Play Store immediately after the guidelines are updated.
This would put Google more in line with Apple, as far as in-app purchases are concerned. But Google will more than likely not be removing the option for multiple payment options in Google Play any time soon. If ever. But it’s not a secret that in-app purchases are a huge boon for Apple, especially in games, so Google going this route makes sense.
These changes are said to be implemented next week, so we’ll know more soon.