Testing the Limits of Anti-Competition
The latest Play Console restriction
is a testing gate:
developers with newly created personal Play Console accounts will soon be required to test their apps with at least 20 people for a minimum of two weeks before applying for access to production
This seems trivial to bypass — 20 sockpuppet accounts and
a test monkey
might suffice. One imagines that somebody will create an underground service for this.
But Google can enact policies like this without much concern, as there
is nowhere else for developers to go, by and large.
That’s why it will be interesting to see if Epic v. Google
will touch upon a key anti-competitive tactic: banning app distributors from the Play Store.
If your app’s principal job is to help people install apps, you are out of luck. Either
you need to be a device manufacturer (e.g., Samsung) who can pre-install a store, or
your potential users will need to sideload your store.
If this ban could be removed — by lawsuit or by legislation — there could be a
more concerted effort to offer the Play Store meaningful competition. Even if Google were to continue
with its policies, the competition would mean that there would be other useful avenues for
affected developers to use.