SAN FRANCISCO –
Google on Monday confronted the second major U.S. antitrust trial in two months to cast the internet powerhouse as a brazen bully that uses its immense wealth and people’s dependence on one of its main products to stifle competition at consumers’ expense.
The trial that opened in a San Francisco federal court targets the Google Play Store that distributes apps for the company’s Android software that powers virtually all the world’s smartphones that aren’t made by Apple.
The case, stemming from a lawsuit filed by video game maker Epic Games, alleges Google has created an illegal monopoly on Android apps primarily so it can boost its profits through commissions ranging from 15 per cent to 30 per cent on purchases made within an app.
“The result of what Google is doing is higher prices, lower quality and less choice for everybody,” Epic attorney Gary Bornstein said Monday during a 45-minute opening statement before the 10-person jury that will decide the case.
Google attorney Glenn Pomerantz attempted to debunk the portrait of the company having a stranglehold on Android apps by outlining a wide gamut of competition from rival mobile and video game console stores, as well as Apple’s store for apps that run on its iPhone software.
“Because Google faces strong competition from Apple and others, it cannot be and is not a monopolist,” Pomerantz asserted in his opening statement.
Google’s strategy to lean on Android’s competition with Apple and the iPhone in its trial with Epic is tinged irony. That’s because Google in September became immersed in the biggest U.S. antitrust trial in a quarter century — a case largely centred on payments that the company makes to Apple to ensure its dominant search engine automatically fields queries made