Jun 28, 2021 - Technology

Google cuts app store fees, for some

A Google logo seen displayed on a smartphone and a pc screen.

(Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/Getty Images

In the latest in a series of app store fee cuts, Google has a new program that will halve commissions for some large developers who agree to support Android on non-phone devices, such as cars, TVs and tablets.

Why it matters: Although a 30% cut to Apple or Google remains the baseline for both of their mobile app stores, there are a growing number of exceptions amid pressure from both competitors and regulators.

Driving the news: Google is expanding what it calls the Play Media Experience Program, which offers the lower 15% commission for certain popular media apps.

  • To qualify under the broadened guidelines, video apps will have to support Android TV, Google TV and Google Cast, while audio apps will have to integrate with Wear OS and Android Auto, as well as TV and Cast. Book apps will need to be optimized for large screens, including tablets, and to support foldable devices.

The big picture: The move, announced last week, comes as Microsoft is putting pressure on both Apple and Google. The company has already cut its PC game commission to 12 percent and will cut its commission to 15% for other apps starting with Windows 11.

  • Also starting with Windows 11, developers can list their apps in the Windows store, use their own payment mechanism and pay no fees to Microsoft.
  • "Fortnite" maker Epic is also suing Google and Apple seeking to force them to open up to additional app stores and payment mechanisms, while regulators around the globe are also examining whether Google's and Apple's app store practices violate antitrust law.

Between the lines: Google is getting something it wants, too — support for what it sees as growth areas for Android. The software is on billions of devices, overwhelmingly phones, but Google has struggled to get developer support for new types of devices, including tablets, TVs and foldables.

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