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How to sustain a safe, thriving app and game ecosystem

There have been a lot of discussions globally about how mobile ecosystems and app stores operate, and the role good policy plays in ensuring that these platforms provide ample choice and flexibility for developers and users. We have been following these discussions closely and agree that policies in this space should be guided by foundational…

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There have been a lot of discussions globally about how mobile ecosystems and app stores operate, and the role good policy plays in ensuring that these platforms provide ample choice and flexibility for developers and users. We have been following these discussions closely and agree that policies in this space should be guided by foundational principles that spur innovation, maintain security and expand user choice across the ecosystem, whether on mobile desktop or gaming consoles.

It’s our belief that operating systems and app stores should:

  • Let consumers download apps and games from anywhere — operating systems should support multiple app stores and allow consumers to get apps and games directly from developers.
  • Keep consumers safe by building protections into the core operating system and requiring app stores and developers to follow high safety standards.
  • Avoid using non-public data about developers to build competing products and services.
  • Be upfront with developers about the rules of the road, enforce policies in a predictable way, work with developers to address problems and offer clear means of appeal and redress when issues arise.
  • Permit developers to build direct customer relationships, with reasonable safeguards to protect consumer safety.

These principles have roots in our work in the early days of mobile, when we made an unprecedented bet that a free, open-source operating system like Android, built with safety and choice at its core, would be good for developers and consumers and could support the growth of the entire smartphone ecosystem. At the time, there were many different business model options to support a platform — some charged licensing fees for their operating system, others sold high-margin hardware devices. We chose to do things differently by making our operating system and app store free, with minimal restrictions.

We also believe that operating systems and app stores should have a business model that enables both platforms and developers to succeed financially. Just as it costs money to build an app, it costs money to build a platform, and a platform’s business model should align its success with developers’ success.

Over the years we’ve made a significant investment in Android and Google Play, and like any business, we need a business model that lets us keep investing in our mobile efforts. Today, Android is used on tens of thousands of device models from smartphone companies around the world and more than two million developers use Google Play to reach more than 2.5 billion users in 190 countries.

We’ve been able to sustain Android and Google Play through a fee paid by developers who sell in-app digital content, which is a common model across technology platforms. Ninety-seven percent of developers globally don’t sell digital content and are not subject to a service fee. For developers who do sell digital content, we recognize that one size doesn’t fit all, and we’ve evolved our business based on feedback from our developer ecosystem. We’ve tailored our fee structure with a number of programs to meet different businesses’ needs. With the new programs we announced this year, 99% of developers globally qualify for a service fee of 15% or less, and developers have welcomed these changes.

App and game platforms need to balance consumers’ expectations of choice and safety, developers’ desire to innovate and grow, and their own need for a viable business model. We look forward to contributing to the public policy conversation, guided by our steadfast commitment to building thriving, open platforms that empower consumers and help developers succeed.

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Fostering inclusive spaces through Disability Alliance

I was 2 when my parents discovered I had polio, which impacted my ability to stand and walk. Growing up in China, I still remember the challenges I faced when I wanted to go to college. Back then, all potential candidates had to pass a physical test, which posed a challenge. Knowing this, my parents,…

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I was 2 when my parents discovered I had polio, which impacted my ability to stand and walk. Growing up in China, I still remember the challenges I faced when I wanted to go to college. Back then, all potential candidates had to pass a physical test, which posed a challenge. Knowing this, my parents, my teachers and even the local government advocated for me. Thanks to their support, I was granted an exception to attend college, where I graduated with a degree in computer science.

When I joined Google in Shanghai in 2011, the real estate team was working to open a new office space. I was part of the planning process to ensure we designed an inclusive workspace, especially for individuals with physical disabilities. When I discovered the desks at the office were too high, or if the meeting space was not designed wide enough for someone in a wheelchair to enter, I worked with the team to solve the problem. I also suggested building wheelchair-accessible restrooms when they were not available on the floor I was working on.

These experiences showed me everyone has the voice to drive change — including myself. I decided to co-lead our Disability Alliance (DA), one of Google’s resource groups in China, with other passionate Googlers. We wanted to create a space to help address challenges Googlers with disabilities face, and build allyship among the wider Google community. We also wanted to create a platform to increase awareness of different forms of disabilities. For example, some people don’t think about invisible disabilities, but it’s equally important to build awareness of disabilities you might not immediately see. I’m incredibly excited to see how we continue to grow our community in the coming year across China.

Having a disability doesn’t limit me, and I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by people who value my abilities instead of my disability. Over the years, I’ve achieved my goals and dreams from leading an incredible team of 50 at Google, taking on physical activities such as skiing and marathons, and driving change for the broader disability community.

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Office spotlight: Chicago

“It almost feels like the first day back at school,” says Rob Biederman as he waits in line for breakfast at the Fulton Market cafe. It’s April 4, and Chicago Googlers like Rob have just started their first official week of hybrid work.Opened in 2000 with only two employees, the Google Chicago office in the…

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“It almost feels like the first day back at school,” says Rob Biederman as he waits in line for breakfast at the Fulton Market cafe. It’s April 4, and Chicago Googlers like Rob have just started their first official week of hybrid work.

Opened in 2000 with only two employees, the Google Chicago office in the West Loop neighborhood has now grown to more than 1,800 employees across two buildings. In 2021 alone, more than 500 “Nooglers” — what we call new employees — joined the campus.

Chicago Googlers work on all kinds of products and teams. You’ll meet engineers designing Pixel devices and working on Search, Ads and Cloud projects; salespeople helping businesses across North America grow; and folks working across finance, human resources and product management. “It’s amazing to now see all the different organizations and product areas represented in Chicago,” says Britton Picciolini, who was the office’s tenth hire in 2002. “It feels like such a great cross section of what we do at Google.”

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Building a secure world

Securing users in Ukraine and the broader regionAs the Russian invasion of Ukraine unfolded, Google mobilized to help the people of Ukraine and protect the security of our users and services – an area where we are uniquely positioned to help in this conflict.We have our own specialized teams dedicated to identifying, tracking, and countering…

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Securing users in Ukraine and the broader region

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine unfolded, Google mobilized to help the people of Ukraine and protect the security of our users and services – an area where we are uniquely positioned to help in this conflict.

We have our own specialized teams dedicated to identifying, tracking, and countering threats from government-backed actors.

Russia-backed hacking and influence operations are not new to us; we’ve been tracking and taking action against them for years. To put this into perspective, we’ve seen and worked to disrupt Russian operations targeting the U.S. elections in 2016 and 2017 and campaigns targeting the 2018 Olympic games. In October, we blocked a Russian campaign targeting 14,000 Google users.

And we’ve seen first hand the targeting of Ukraine by Russia. It has been ongoing for years with both espionage and occasional cyber attacks tracked by our teams. As the war intensified, we also saw Russian threat actors shift focus to targets elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

Our Threat Analysis Group (TAG), regularly publishes details on campaigns it detects, and disrupts these efforts to help governments and private sector companies better defend their systems.

We’ve seen threat actors beyond Russia shift their focus and targeting, including a growing number of threat actors using the war as a lure in phishing and malware campaigns. This includes government-backed actors from China, Iran, North Korea, Belarus and financially-motivated, criminal actors using current events as a means for targeting users.

For example, we’ve seen one cyber crime group impersonating military personnel to extort money for rescuing relatives in Ukraine.

In addition to disrupting threats, we are doing everything we can to increase protections for high risk users and organizations in Ukraine. We’ve redoubled our efforts to offer free tools to help – including protecting hundreds of high risk users on the ground with our Advanced Protection Program, and expanding eligibility of Project Shield to include the Ukraine government. Shield is currently protecting over 200 websites in Ukraine from distributed denial of service attacks.

It is in this spirit of action that we are expanding our partnerships and investment in the broader region on cybersecurity.

In fact, this week a delegation of our top security engineers and leaders are on the ground across Eastern Europe to provide hands-on training to high risk groups, deliver security keys and support local businesses as they look to improve their security posture.

To share what we know about the threat, we are engaging in technical exchanges with governments in the region.

We’re providing free tools and expertise to democratic institutions and civil society, such as the Protect Your Democracy Toolkit — which we launched today in partnership with our Jigsaw team.

We’re also investing in, and shaping, the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. For example, Google has committed to provide scholarships for 150,000 people in Europe, the Middle East and Africa through the new Google Career Certificate training.

We’re also helping governments and businesses stay ahead of the threat, including helping government agencies, companies and utilities who rely on outdated hardware and software to replace old systems with better foundations and we are here to build up businesses and governments’ confidence to embrace digital transformation securely.

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