Alphabet Inc.'s CEO, Sundar Pichai, is gearing up to appear before a jury next week as part of the ongoing legal dispute with Epic Games Inc. over Google Play app store policies. The trial, which commenced on November 6, centers on allegations by Epic Games that Google's app store practices negatively impact developers and result in increased costs for consumers.
Epic Games, the creator of the popular Fortnite game, is scheduled to call Sundar Pichai to the witness stand on Tuesday at the federal court in San Francisco. The legal clash originated in 2020 when Epic filed a lawsuit against Google, asserting that the distribution, payment, and fee policies of its app store are anti-competitive.
Sundar Pichai's testimony is of paramount importance as Alphabet defends against Epic's claims of app market power abuse, potentially risking billions in revenue if the app store policies are deemed problematic. This trial follows Pichai's recent appearance in a Washington trial where the U.S. Justice Department raised concerns about Google's search business.
Epic's legal team is likely to interrogate Pichai on various aspects, including Google Play and Android operations, deals with developers and phone manufacturers, and the company's relationship with Apple. The questioning, as outlined in a court filing, may extend up to an hour.
Google's attorneys plan to counter-question Pichai for 30 minutes, focusing on justifying Google Play policies that purportedly promote healthy competition.
The trial is slated to continue until early December and will feature testimony from Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney. Epic has already examined other Google executives, aiming to demonstrate that Google impedes competition by discouraging rivals from establishing their app stores. Epic contends that Google even strikes deals with phone manufacturers to prioritize Google Play on mobile device home screens.
The trial began on November 6, 2023, and is expected to run until early December.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai is set to testify on Tuesday, November 15, 2023.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney is also expected to testify.
Epic is alleging that Google abuses its app market power and that its app store policies hurt developers and raise prices for consumers.
Google is denying the allegations and countersuing Epic, claiming that the game maker breached its contract and acted in bad faith.
The trial is being closely watched by the tech industry and antitrust regulators around the world, as it could have major implications for how app stores operate.
Epic has presented evidence that Google paid phone makers like Samsung Electronics Co. to make sure Google Play is displayed prominently on mobile device home screens.
Epic has also presented evidence that Google has struck deals with developers to prevent them from offering their apps on other app stores or through their own websites.
Google has defended its practices, arguing that they are necessary to protect consumers and developers.
The outcome of the trial could have a significant impact on Google's app store business. If Epic is successful, Google could be forced to change its app store policies and reduce its fees. This could make it easier for other app stores to compete with Google Play and could lead to lower prices for consumers.
The trial is also being seen as a test of Google's market power. If Google is found to have abused its market power, it could lead to further antitrust investigations and lawsuits.