Australian mobile advertising start-up Unlockd is set for a showdown with Google, after the search giant threatened to ban its apps from the Google Play Store.
The adtech company released a statement yesterday confirming that it has applied for an injunction with the UK High Court to prevent Google from disabling AdMob generated advertising content and removing Unlockd apps from the Google Play Store.
Unlockd — which only works on Google’s Android platform — shows users ads on their when they unlocked their smartphone in return for loyalty points or other rewards.
As a result, the business has had to delay plans for an IPO until the matter has been resolved. Unlockd has raised more than $60 million over the last two years from investors including Lachlan Murdoch and Catch of the Day founders Hezi and Gabby Leibovich.
“Unlockd’s legal counsel has confidence that the threats made by Google to withdraw access and the supply of services in respect of Google Play and AdMob represent an abuse of its dominant position and breach of competition rules,” the company said.
“Google’s anti-competitive conduct is preventing Unlockd from raising capital to continue its rapid expansion and innovation, and therefore protecting Google from a growing and potential competitor.”
Unlockd has grown quickly and at the end of 2017 the company said it had achieved a annual recurring revenue rate of $20 million. Following its launch three years ago, the company now has 55 staff in five countries.
The dispute between Unlockd and Google comes after motnhs of debate about whether technology giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon should be broken up and/or more closely regulated to increase competition. Last year Google was fined €2.42 billion (AU$3.57 billion) for abusing its market dominance in search by giving an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service.