Australian tech startup Unlockd has blamed Google for its financial troubles after the search giant removed the company's Android application from the Google Play Store. Unlockd is a startup that develops applications that deliver targeted advertisements to consumers whenever they unlock their smartphones. By viewing advertisements, consumers could earn rewards that range from free mobile data to loyalty points. Unlockd was supposed to launch its initial public offering (IPO) when Google informed the startup that it has removed its application from the Play Store. The removal from the Google Play Store, the startup claimed, has negatively impacted its business, substantially impacting its valuation. This prompted the company to suspend its IPO, which further prevented the it from raising the necessary funds for its expansion and continued operations. Financial difficulties forced the startup to voluntary administration, a procedure wherein the control of the company is handed over to an independent third-party administrator. This administrator is responsible for assessing and determining the best possible option for the company's owners and creditors.
In a statement given to FT, Unlockd's co-founder Matt Berriman blamed Google for the current state of the company. Berriman accused the search giant of abusing its current market dominance to destroy his business. The startup further claimed that Google already knew about its business model for a significant amount of time and allowed the company to operate on the Play Store until news reports emerged regarding the tech startup's IPO. For its part, Google stated that it already informed the startup back in April that it had violated the Play Store's rule that prohibits developers from paying users to view advertisements.
A number of businesses and organizations have already accused the search giant of anti-competitive behavior and abuse of market dominance after the search giant allegedly employed practices that benefited the company's own shopping service at the expense of competing solutions. This complaint ultimately resulted in a €2.4 billion fine imposed by the European Union on Google last year. The development marked the largest antitrust fine issued by the political bloc, easily surpassing the $1.2 billion fine incurred by Intel for anti-competitive behavior back in 2009. Both penalties are still being appealed to this date and haven't been paid.