Google CEO Sundar Pichai to be questioned in antitrust trial over App Store

Google CEO Sundar Pichai will defend his company’s controversial App Store practices next week during a court battle with “Fortnite” maker Epic Games, marking the second time in three weeks that the Big tech boss testifies in major antitrust trial.

Epic lawyers are expected to question Pichai in federal court in San Francisco on Tuesday, a company the spokesperson told Bloomberg.

The video game publisher accused Google of maintaining an illegal monopoly over the Android application market through its “Play” store.

Pichai could face questions for up to an hour and is likely to be pressed about Google’s payments to major developers like Activision-Blizzard and Riot Games dating back to 2020.

Epic alleges that the payment strategy, known as “Project Hug,” was a “bribery and blocking” scheme intended to discourage companies from creating their own app stores.

Meanwhile, Google lawyers are expected to ask Pichai for about 30 minutes about the competition the company faces from other app stores, among other topics.

Sundar Pichai testified last month in the landmark antitrust trial targeting Google search.
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The company has claimed that its payments were necessary measures to avoid challenge from Apple’s App Store and other similar markets.

Pichai has been front and center as Google struggles to avoid a series of regulatory challenges.

Last month, the Justice Department questioned Pichai about Google’s destruction of internal chat logs as part of its historic attempt to dismantle the company’s online search empire.

Google CFO Ruth Porat and Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney are also expected to testify in the app store’s antitrust trial. The case is expected to last approximately four weeks and conclude in early December.

Sundar Pichai
Epic is expected to question Pichai for about an hour.

Early in the trial, the 10-person jury was told that Google once gave “Call of Duty” parent Activision-Blizzard a whopping $360 million in incentives to launch its video game on the Play Store. .

At the time, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick had reportedly complained about Google’s policy of taking a 30% cut of revenue from in-app purchases.

The lawsuit dates back to 2020, when “Fortnite” was removed from the Google Play store after Epic enabled a feature that allowed customers to pay for it directly.

Epic filed a similar lawsuit against Apple, which resulted in a split verdict that primarily favored Apple. Both companies have appealed that ruling before the Supreme Court.

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