Aptoide, a popular alternative to Google Play Store, has launched a large online campaign against the developer of Android. The alternative Android app store hosts most of the apps that Google’s popular mobile operating system runs and several more. The app store has strongly alleged that Google isn’t playing fair. While Aptoide has a long-running grudge against Google, it is for the first time it has launched such a public campaign to rally against Google’s allegedly “anti-competitive behavior”. It is apparent that Aptoide seems to be taking advantage of the ongoing antitrust litigation against Google.
Even as U.S. regulators are pushing harder to launch another antitrust probe of Google’s business, Aptoide has upped activities regarding its longtime complaint of anti-competitive behavior against the search and smartphone OS giant. The popular alternative to Google’s Android Play Store has launched a campaign website to press its case and call for Google to “Play Fair”. Through the campaign, Aptoide is essentially accusing Google of limiting consumer choice by “preventing users from freely choosing their preferred app store”.
Needless to add, Google has always viewed and treated Aptoide with caution and suspicion. Last year, Google had evidently started warning or cautioning Android users about such alternative app stores. The search giant had put up a notice in its Play Store warning users that the alternative might be unsafe. Although the warning could be easily dismissed, it could have easily dissuaded several users from visiting the alternative app store and downloading apps from the same. Aptoide’s long-running legal battle with the search giant began way back in 2014 when it had filed its first EU antitrust complaint against Google.
Aptoide alleges Google has damaged its ability to compete by unjustifiably flagging its app as insecure. “Since Summer 2018, Google Play Protect flags Aptoide as a harmful app, hiding it in users’ Android devices and requesting them to uninstall it. This results in a potential decrease in unique Aptoide users of 20%. Google Play Protect is Google’s built-in malware protection for Android, but we believe the way it works damages users’ rights.”
Essentially Google may be using methods that make it harder for Aptoide to gain new users and even retain old users. All the allegations are mentioned on the googleplayfair.com site. The website attempts to, “bring visibility to this situation and help other startups that may be under the same circumstances.”
Some of the techniques highlighted by Aptoide are rather concerning. “It [Google] hides Aptoide. User cannot see Aptoide icon and cannot launch. Even if they go to ‘settings’ and say they trust Aptoide, Aptoide installations are blocked. If it looks violent, it’s because it’s a really aggressive move and impactful,” said Aptoide co-founder and CEO Paulo Trezentos.
At the heart of the discontent is the margin that both the companies ask from app developers. While Google demands as much as 30 percent of the revenue, Aptoide asks for just 19 percent.