As US regulators gear up to start another antitrust probe of Google’s business, an alternative Android app store is dialling up its very long time issue of anti-competitive behavior against the search and smartphone OS giant. Portugal-based Aptoide is starting a marketing campaign website to press its case and call for Google to “Play Fair” – accusing Mountain View of squeezing consumer choice by “preventing users from freely choosing their preferred app store”. Aptoide submitted its first EU antitrust issue against Google completely back in 2014, joining a bunch of other complainants crying bad over how Google was working Android.
5BN penalty for antitrust abuses last summer season after a multi-year investigation, rivals continue to complain the Android manufacturer still isn’t playing fair. In the case of Aptoide, the alternative Android app store says Google has broken its ability to contend by unjustifiably flagging its application as insecure. “Since Summer 2018, Google Play Protect flags Aptoide as a dangerous app, hiding it in users’ Android devices and requesting these to uninstall it.
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Aptoide says Google has involved in multiple actions that make it harder for this to get or keep users – thus undermining its ability to compete with Google’s own Play Store. “In 2018, we had 222 million yearly energetic users. Last month (May’19), we’d 56 million unique MAU,” co-founder and CEO Paulo Trezentos tells TechCrunch. “Fortunately we’ve been able to compensate that with new users and new partnerships but it is a barrier to a faster growth,” he adds.
Among the anti-competitive habits Aptoide accuses Google of participating in are flagging and suspending its application from users’ mobile phones – without their permission and “with out a justification”. “It hides Aptoide. User cannot see Aptoide cannot and icon release. Even if each goes to ‘settings’ and say they trust Aptoide, Aptoide installations are blocked,” he says. Even if an Aptoide user overrides the warning – by pressing ‘keep application (unsafe)’ – Trezentos says the application still won’t work because Google blocks Aptoide from setting up apps. He argues there is no justification for Aptoide’s alternative application store being treated in this real way.
Virus Total (a company owned by Google),” says Trezentos, adding: “Google is eliminating Aptoide from users mobile phone only due to anticompetitive procedures. We wish to be treated in a good way: Play Protect shouldn’t flag Aptoide as a harmful app and should not ask users to uninstall it since it’s proven that it’s 100% secure.
Trezentos stands by the “100% secure” claim when we query it. “We believe we have a safer strategy. We call it ‘security by design’: We don’t consider all apps secure just as. Each app has a badge depending on the trustworthiness of the programmer: Trusted, Unknown, Warning, Critical,” he says.