Google Reportedly Plans to Update Play Store Guidelines to Emphasize Use of Its Billing System With 30% Fee

Google plans to introduce updated Play Store guidelines that emphasize the requirement for most apps to use the company's billing system for in-app purchases as early as next week, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.

Google Play banner
While this requirement has existed for years, the report notes that some major developers like Netflix, Spotify, and Tinder have circumvented the rule by prompting customers to pay directly using a credit card, rather than their Play Store account, bypassing Google's 30 percent commission for in-app purchases.

In a statement, Google said that it is always working with developers to clarify its Play Store policies, but it did not elaborate on any forthcoming changes:

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 claims that when Google's updated guidelines are implemented, major developers currently not in compliance will be given time to update their apps and are unlikely to face immediate removal from the Play Store.

Google and Apple have faced increasing scrutiny over the way the companies run the Play Store and App Store, respectively. Apple in particular has been accused of anticompetitive behavior by Spotify and others, and the company remains in a high-profile legal battle with Fortnite creator Epic Games over in-app purchases.

Top Rated Comments

Abazigal Avatar
35 months ago

Imagine the amount of hatred, disdain, and horrific things people would say on these forums if Microsoft required all purchases utilizing the Windows OS to give MS a 30% cut.
I posted this in an earlier thread and am reposting it here for discussion.

I feel that developers by and large underestimate just how much of their revenue come from Apple’s in-app payments being so easy and trusted.

Yes, they put in a lot of time and effort creating great apps for consumers, but setting aside household brands like Netflix or Spotify, I don’t think they would have as much business if consumers had to resort to the old way of navigating to an external website and keying in their credit card details.

Apple has made this possible thanks to their having aggregated the best customers under one platform (thanks to the iphone) and having their credit card details on hand (thanks to iTunes) while making it extremely secure and easy to purchase apps, as well as delete them or cancel subscriptions as desired (thanks to the effort that goes into maintaining and curating the App Store, and features like Touch ID), which in turn leads to users being more amenable to purchasing and downloading new apps. Because the whole process is just so frictionless.

So at the end of the day, I dare say that 70% of the larger pie that Apple enables because of the App Store is still more than 100% of whatever slice they would have carved out based on their own merit. This is the value that Apple brings to the table, and they are absolutely justified in demanding a cut for their role in allowing app developers to earn more than they otherwise would have on their own.

In Microsoft’s situation, they would likely not be able to grow the pie the way Apple has done, or go as good a job maintaining the App Store like Apple, which in turn means that Microsoft will have done even less to deserve a 30% cut than Apple.

The two scenarios are nothing alike.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Maconplasma Avatar
35 months ago
It's interesting that Google can charge the 30% and the internet for the most part remains quiet, but tech sites, news and various other information sites make it to seem that Apple is the only bad guy here and is the only one charging 30%. SMH
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Wowfunhappy Avatar
35 months ago
As long as you can sideload Android apps, this situation is entirely different from what's happening on iOS.

If Spotify doesn't want to give Google a cut, they can tell customers to download an apk directly from their website. Frankly, this whole thing could easily backfire on Google, because the more software that's distributed directly, the more users become used to sideloading, and the less reason developers have to use the Play Store to begin with.

I mean, at least the iOS App Store offers fairly substantial safety guarantees for users. If sideloading was possible on iOS—as it should be—I'd still download most software from the App Store, because I'd know those apps were safe. The Play Store has a lot more malware, and I don't see many reasons to use it.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
subi257 Avatar
35 months ago

I posted this in an earlier thread and am reposting it here for discussion.

I feel that developers by and large underestimate just how much of their revenue come from Apple’s in-app payments being so easy and trusted.

Yes, they put in a lot of time and effort creating great apps for consumers, but setting aside household brands like Netflix or Spotify, I don’t think they would have as much business if consumers had to resort to the old way of navigating to an external website and keying in their credit card details.

Apple has made this possible thanks to their having aggregated the best customers under one platform (thanks to the iphone) and having their credit card details on hand (thanks to iTunes) while making it extremely secure and easy to purchase apps, as well as delete them or cancel subscriptions as desired (thanks to the effort that goes into maintaining and curating the App Store, and features like Touch ID), which in turn leads to users being more amenable to purchasing and downloading new apps. Because the whole process is just so frictionless.

So at the end of the day, I dare say that 70% of the larger pie that Apple enables because of the App Store is still more than 100% of whatever slice they would have carved out based on their own merit. This is the value that Apple brings to the table, and they are absolutely justified in demanding a cut for their role in allowing app developers to earn more than they otherwise would have on their own.

In Microsoft’s situation, they would likely not be able to grow the pie the way Apple has done, or go as good a job maintaining the App Store like Apple, which in turn means that Microsoft will have done even less to deserve a 30% cut than Apple.

The two scenarios are nothing alike.
Agreed. If Apple didn't create the App store most of these developers would not even exist. Apple has made it feasible for anybody and their brother to become "developers" I can't even count how many sh**ty .99 cent apps I bought just because "who cares if it sucks, it's .99 cents" and there are thousands of other people like that, the developer just made thousands of dollars.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FightTheFuture Avatar
35 months ago

It's interesting that Google can charge the 30% and the internet for the most part remains quiet, but tech sites, news and various other information sites make it to seem that Apple is the only bad guy here and is the only one charging 30%. SMH
Many of the same people who said Apple would go out of business before the iPod are the same people who say Apple is too successful today. These guys don’t want Apple to succeed.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
subi257 Avatar
35 months ago

Apple led the way with customer hostile practices like taking away upgradability, I/O and headphone jacks, now it’s leading the way with developer hostile tactics like wanting a tax on all transactions on its platform, not just app purchases.

Imagine having a Windows tax for every online software and service purchase.

It’s free money for nothing, so if Apple can do it I guess it makes sense for Google to enforce the same.
You want an ancient tech analog headphone jack? stay with the old model. I don't understand, everybody always "has to have the latest greatest" then they complain that it is not like the old one anymore.

Where do you come up with this crap? It's not money for free, do you have even the slightest clue what it costs to run that backend? servers, storage, electric for equipment and air conditioning. It's not tax, it's cost of running a business. I work in a professional video editing environment and our video servers and storage are "EOL'd" (end of life) every 5 ish years. Our measly 750TB of of high speed (10GB/s) on optical fiber costs $105k for 100TB and has to be kept at 68 degrees. Amazon has to have Exebytes of storage for all of the app store and infrastructure. That has to cost millions of dollars a year...then you have staff engineers to maintain and support it.

Everybody needs to stop with money for free crap.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)