Bulletins

Google is lowering its Play Store app fees even further

In a rare move, the search giant is telling app makers they'll now keep more money from digital transactions.

A Google office.

Of course, these changes aren't happening out of the goodness of Google's heart.

Photo: John Nacion/Getty Images

The latest blow to the mobile app economy's once-standard 30% cut is coming from an unlikely player: Google. The search giant on Thursday announced it would collect a lower fee from both subscription and music-streaming apps, reducing its standard cut from nearly a third of all digital transactions down to a flat 15% for eligible app categories.


To be clear, Google already allows subscription-based apps to keep 85% of revenue so long as a customer signs up through the Android app and stays subscribed for more than a year. That change was one Google made back in 2017, following in Apple's footsteps as Google has been prone to do over the years with regard to managing its mobile app marketplace. Google also followed Apple in lowering app store fees earlier this year to 12% for small developers making less than $1 million per year.

But Google is now going a step further, and breaking from its tradition of only moving when Apple does, by establishing a new flat revenue split for certain apps on the Play Store. Google's official justification is that it has "heard that customer churn makes it challenging for subscription businesses to benefit from that reduced rate," so it's making it easier for developers that bill on a recurring basis to sign up customers within their app with more confidence they'll stick around.

Google says e-book apps and music-streaming apps may also be eligible for a fee as low as 10%, but that developers will have to review the new guidelines and work with Google to establish a new rate. "The new rates recognize industry economics of media content verticals and make Google Play work better for developers and the communities of artists, musicians and authors they represent," Google said. The company earlier this year established the 15% rate as part of a multi-platform initiative called Play Media Experience, so apps that met certain requirements like building complaint versions of software across the Wear OS and Android Auto platforms could enjoy the lower cut.

Of course, these changes aren't happening out of the goodness of Google's heart, but rather amid increasing regulatory pressure on Big Tech and mobile app stores in particular in the U.S. and abroad.

Both Apple and Google remain embroiled in lawsuits with Fortnite maker Epic Games over app store fees and restrictions, and the Epic v. Apple case, which went to trial in May, resulted in a verdict that would in theory make it easier for developers to bypass app store fees by transacting with customers directly. Apple and Epic have appealed the ruling and Apple, has asked to delay the court's order to change its rules around those so-called steering provisions, leaving court-ordered changes to the App Store off the table for now. Google's case with Epic has yet to go to trial.

Putting aside the Epic battle, there is yet more regulatory pressure on Big Tech and an especially intense focus on Google. That includes new legislation passed in South Korea earlier this year that, when enforced, will open the door for app developers to bypass both the App Store and Play Store directly using of in-app payment systems, as well as similar legislation since proposed by lawmakers in the U.S. Google is also at the center of a number of antitrust investigations in the U.S. related to the Play Store, its search engine and other parts of its sprawling business, all of which are likely influencing Google's decision today to lower its fees further.

"Google has a long history of evolving Android and Play's model based on feedback from our developer ecosystem on what they need to be successful on Play," a Google spokesperson told The Verge when asked about why it decided to lower its fees for certain apps.

Update Oct. 21, 2:15PM ET: Included more information from Google's official announcement post.

Latest Bulletins

Meta is rolling out a new Professional Mode for Facebook profiles in the U.S., giving creators more ways to monetize their content, the company announced in a blog post Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less

Better.com head Vishal Garg apologized for the way he handled a barrage of firings last week, according to a letter sent to employees that was leaked on Blind.

Keep Reading Show less

TikTok is making its first big live shopping debut in the U.K. on Wednesday with an event called “On Trend.” Between Wednesday and Thursday, brands and creators will show off exclusive discounts and products that people can buy directly off the platform.

Keep Reading Show less

Meta and IBM are joining the Data & Trust Alliance, a corporate-backed group that has developed an evaluation it hopes will combat bias in artificial intelligence systems that are used in hiring and employment decisions.

Keep Reading Show less

Twitter is testing a new approach to how users report tweets, giving users the ability to first describe the "symptoms" of their experience. Until now, Twitter has required users to specify the type of complaint they're lodging, under Twitter's policies, a confusing process that Twitter acknowledges "wasn’t making enough people feel safe or heard."

Keep Reading Show less

Roku and Google have struck an 11th-hour deal to keep YouTube’s apps on Roku’s streaming devices and smart TVs. The two companies renewed their distribution agreement for both YouTube TV as well as the main YouTube app, which was set to expire on Thursday. Without such a deal, YouTube apps would have disappeared from Roku's devices.

Keep Reading Show less

There’s no need for Meta or Lyft employees to rush back to the office, it turns out.

Keep Reading Show less

Stan Chudnovsky, vice president of Meta's messaging service Messenger, will leave the company in 2022, he announced on Facebook on Tuesday.

Keep Reading Show less

Twitter has acquired messaging app Quill, Nick Caldwell, general manager of Twitter's Core Tech unit, announced in a tweet thread Tuesday.

Keep Reading Show less

Elon Musk, in typical Elon Musk fashion, railed against federal spending on electric vehicles during Monday's Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit. He also called CEO a "made-up title" and said that no one should be CEO forever.

Keep Reading Show less

The Senate confirmed Jessica Rosenworcel, acting chair of the Federal Communications Commission, for another term at the agency on Tuesday as the White House's tech nominees begin to take their spots.

Keep Reading Show less

Amazon Web Services US-EAST-1 experienced an outage Tuesday morning that left many websites unavailable.

Keep Reading Show less

Ubisoft has taken the plunge into blockchain gaming with the launch of Quartz, a non-fungible token platform for in-game items. The announcement, made in a YouTube trailer for the Quartz beta, makes Ubisoft the first major video game publisher to formally launch a crypto project.

Keep Reading Show less

Instagram announced a suite of new controls and features aimed at teens Tuesday, one day before Instagram head Adam Mosseri is set to testify before Congress on the app's impact on younger users. According to a blog post, the company will begin limiting the types of recommendations it makes to teen users, nudge those users away from topics they're dwelling on and urging young users in six countries to take a break from the app.

Keep Reading Show less

Samsung replaced the heads of its three biggest business units with two new co-CEOs, the company announced late Monday, merging its consumer and mobile electronics businesses.

Keep Reading Show less

Intel is planning to take Mobileye, its self-driving vehicle unit, public, sources familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal. The company confirmed its plans in a press release following the report..

Keep Reading Show less

Microsoft has told its partners that some customers will be charged 20% more for subscriptions to its Office suite if they want to have monthly plans, CNBC reported Monday.

Keep Reading Show less

As the NFT craze took over this year, people poured $26.9 billion into the digital ownership tokens in the first ten months of 2021, a report by blockchain analysis service Chainalysis found.

Keep Reading Show less

Google is embracing free TV for its Google TV platform: The company has struck a deal with ViacomCBS-owned Pluto to add over 300 free, ad-supported streaming TV channels to its Chromecast with Google TV streaming dongle as well as smart TVs running Google TV.

Keep Reading Show less

The planned launch of the White House’s Alliance for the Future of the Internet has been postponed, following substantial pushback from leading digital rights groups, according to two sources involved in the planning process, including one U.S. official.

Keep Reading Show less

The newest game on Facebook is one of the oldest in history — Pac-Man — but it has a twist. This version of Pac-Man is a competitive four-player take on the arcade classic intended to be livestreamed on the Facebook Gaming platform, so viewers can compete against streamers in a matter of seconds.

Keep Reading Show less

A former software engineer for Netflix was sentenced to two years in prison for taking part in an insider trading ring that generated more than $3 million, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Washington announced Friday.

Keep Reading Show less

Parag Agrawal, Twitter's newly minted chief executive, will restructure the company's leadership team, shifting to a "general manager" model for its consumer, revenue and core tech teams. As part of the shakeup, Michael Montano, Twitter's engineering lead, and Dantley Davis, the company's design and research lead, will exit at the end of the year.

Keep Reading Show less

Sony is planning its own competitor to Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass, according to a report from Bloomberg. Sony intends to merge the service, codenamed Spartacus, with its PlayStation Plus membership program and its PlayStation Now cloud service.

Keep Reading Show less

The phones of U.S. State Department officials were hacked using NSO Group software, Reuters reported Friday. Sources told Reuters that the cyberattacks hit officials with ties to Uganda. The hackers have not yet been identified.

Keep Reading Show less
Bulletins