In a groundbreaking revelation from the ongoing Epic v. Google trial, Spotify has been reported to have struck a unique deal with Google. This arrangement exempts Spotify from paying commission to Google for subscriptions made through its own payment system on Android devices, as initially reported by The Verge.
The Strategic Importance of Spotify for Android
Google’s partnerships head, Don Harrison, reportedly highlighted the critical role of Spotify in the Android ecosystem during the court proceedings. “Listening to music is one of [the phone’s] core purposes… if we don’t have Spotify working properly across Play services and core services, people will not buy Android phones,” he stated. This underscores the strategic importance of Spotify to the Android platform.
Epic Games’ Legal Battle Against Google
This information surfaced as part of a lawsuit filed against Google by Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, in 2020. Epic Games accused Google’s Play Store of being an illegal monopoly, compelling app developers to pay substantial fees for in-app purchases made through the Play Store. A similar lawsuit was filed against Apple in 2021.
Google’s Flexible Commission Structures
In a statement to Engadget, Google spokesperson Dan Jackson noted, “A small number of developers that invest more directly in Android and Play may have different service fees as part of a broader partnership that includes substantial financial investments and product integrations across different form factors.” This indicates Google’s willingness to negotiate commission structures based on the level of investment and integration into the Android ecosystem.
Spotify’s Shift in Strategy
Initially, Spotify supported Epic in its legal battle against Google and Apple. However, in 2022, Spotify began utilizing Google’s User Choice Billing program, allowing Android apps to use their own payment systems while still providing Google with a reduced commission. This special deal revealed in court demonstrates Google’s readiness to offer more favorable terms to popular apps like Spotify.
Google’s Broader Business Revelations
The trial has also shed light on other aspects of Google’s business practices. An economics professor, testifying on behalf of Google in a separate antitrust trial, disclosed that Google pays Apple a significant percentage of ad revenue generated through Apple’s Safari browser. Additionally, Google reportedly offered Netflix a custom deal with a reduced commission, which Netflix declined.