Google Facing Complaint in EU from Aptoide over App Store Practices

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Anybody still use Aptoide? When I first switched Android, it was all the rage. Unfortunately, it was mostly used for pirated apps. Even now, if do a search for Aptoide some of the top results have titles like “Paid apps for free with Aptoide”. I haven’t even installed it on a device in years, but Aptoide is still alive, apparently. They are also suing Google in the European Union over claims of anti-competitive behavior. The third-party app store is claiming that Google is trying to shut out third-party app stores by bundling the Play Store with the Android OS.

Aptoide is based in Portugal and is one of a handful of large third-party app stores, including Yandex, AppBrain, and the Amazon Appstore. Aptoide claims that they’re the largest Android app store outside of Google Play, with over 200,000 apps. Their CEO, Paulo Trezentos, met with EU officials last week before submitting this complaint. The basis of the complaint is that Google includes their own app store with the Android OS, doesn’t offer other choices, and doesn’t make it easy for users to download or use third-party app stores. Google’s terms forbid any third-party app store app from being posted in the Play Store. Aptoide also takes issue with what it perceives as Google blocking the installation of any app store, or even any apps from another app store. To install Aptoide, you have to download an installation .apk from their website. In order to install it, you have to check the ‘Unknown sources’ in your Android Security settings. Installing any apps from an alternate app store requires leaving that box checked, a fact that makes some users uncomfortable.

Aptoide points to the Chinese market as an example of a flourishing app market outside of Google’s control. The fact they are ignoring is that the majority of Android malware comes from these small, third-party sites. Most of the Android malware information floating around on the internet is FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt), but the fact remains that such malware does exist. Most of it can be prevented by being smart about where your apps come from. Google does a great job at policing the apps in the Play Store.

Aptoide’s claims may be valid, but from a customer experience standpoint it’s clear why Google doesn’t want to make access to third-party app stores easy. We’ll see if the EU decides that Google has a financial interest in it as well.