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As the US regulators prepares onself. They are preparing to launch another antitrust investigation of Google’s business, an alternative store of applications for Android is marking its long-standing complaint of anti-competitive behavior against the giant of search systems and smartphones.
Aptoide, based in Portugal, is launching a campaign website to present its case and ask Google to “play fair”, accusing Mountain View of restricting consumer choice by “preventing users from freely choosing their app store preferred. ”
Aptoide filed its first EU antitrust complaint against Google in 2014, and joined a group of other complainants who lamented the way Google operated Android.
And while the European Commission finally intervened, hitting Google with a $ 5BN fine for antitrust abuses last summer after a multi-year investigation, rivals continue to complain that the Android maker is still not playing clean.
In the case of Aptoide, the alternative application store for Android says that Google has damaged its ability to compete by unjustifiably marking its application as insecure.
“Since the starting of summer of 2018, Google Play Protect points to Aptoide as a harmful application, hiding it in the users’ Android devices and asking them to uninstall it. This results in a potential decrease of unique Aptoide users of 20%. Google Play Protect is Google’s built-in malware protection for Android, but we believe that the way it works damages the rights of users, “he writes on the site, where he highlights what anti-competitive Google behaviors are, and asks Users who report experiences of the application being checked.
Aptoide says Google has engaged in multiple behaviors that make it difficult for users to win or maintain, which undermines their ability to compete with Google’s own Play Store.
“In 2018, we had 222 million active users per year. Last month (May 19), we had 56 million unique MAUs, “says co-founder and CEO Paulo Trezentos to TechCrunch.” We estimate that the elimination and marking of Google Play caused the loss from 15% to 20% of our user base since June 18 “.
(The estimate of the number of users that Aptoide has lost was made using the Google SafetyNet API that, according to him, allows you to consult the classification of an application).
“Fortunately, we have been able to compensate that with new users and new associations, but it is a barrier to faster growth,” he adds.
“The site googleplayfair.com hopes to provide visibility to this situation and help other emerging companies that may be in the same circumstances.”
Among the anti-competitive behavior, Aptoide accuses Google of participating, they are marking and suspending their application from users’ phones, without their permission and “without a valid reason”.
The aptide is hidden. The user can not see the Aptoid icon and can not start. “Even if they go to” configurations “and say they trust Aptoide, the Aptoide facilities are blocked,” he says. “If it seems violent, it’s because it’s a really aggressive and impactful movement.”
Here is the notification that is shown to Aptoide users when they try to cancel Aptoide’s suspension by Google at the packet manager level:
Even if an Aptoide user cancels the warning, by clicking “keep the application (not secure)”, Trezentos says that the application still does not work because Google prevents Aptoide from installing applications.
“The user has to go to the Play Protect configuration (find out it’s not easy) and disable Play Protect for all applications.”
He argues that there is no justification for Aptoide’s alternative application store to be treated in this way.
“Aptoide is considered safe both by security researchers [who cite an article by Japanese security researchers] and by Virus Total (a company owned by Google),” says Trezentos, adding: “Google is removing Aptoide from the phone of the users only because of anti-competitive practices, he does not want anyone else as an Android distribution channel. ”
On the website that Aptoide has launched to raise awareness and inform users and other emerging companies about how Google treats its application, it states that its store is “proven … 100% safe” by writing:
We would like you to treat us in a fair way: Play Protect should not mark Aptoide as a harmful application and you should not ask users to uninstall it, as it is proven to be 100% safe. The restriction options for users go against the nature of the Android open source project [ref10]. In addition, the co