Why it matters: The Google Play Store may not be as profitable as the Apple App Store, but the two app distribution platforms work the same way to generate revenue from developers. This has put Google in a hot spot with antitrust regulators, so it will only take a while to change Play Store policies to avoid further legal trouble.
The Play Store generated $11.2 billion in revenue in 2019, with profits of $8.5 billion, according to an undisclosed court case this week. While that revenue doesn't quite match the revenue from the Apple App Store, the profit margin is a healthy 62%, which is quite desirable with the 80% margin generated by the modern app distribution platform.
This shows that just like Apple, Google can charge programmers lower fees while still benefiting from their own malware hosting and malware removal. The company currently accounts for 30 percent of the app's revenue, but internal communications show that number only reflects what Apple has been doing with its App Store. The complaint even cites internal numbers showing that the Google Play Store fails to generate just six percent of revenue.
However, these apps have largely mirrored Apple's image. For example, a case reported in March halved Play Store commissions for developers who had yet to sell more than $1 million in lifetime sales. Apple launched a similar app last year for developers who publish their apps in the App Store for less than $1 million a year.
Apple recently decided to change its App Store rules so that developers can announce alternative payments. Options for users who use their contact information, which is just a small step in the right direction, but one that Google hasn't taken yet. In any case, the pressure of four antitrust lawsuits may eventually force the search giant to copy from Apple again.
The complaint claims that Google Play's revenue-sharing policy is only copied from Apple