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Google just got a chance to explain why Project Hug wasn’t a bribe.

Kochikar is basically explaining that “co-marketing” and “ad credits” aren’t the same thing as handing out a bundle of cash. For example, Google’s ad credits meant “we would spend one dollar for every three dollars they spend,” she says.

And in a 2019 presentation, Google explicitly says it’s not a goal to block other stores:

Non-goals: stop launch on other Android stores (e.g. Galaxy Store)

“It is important to note that this is not an exclusivity program,” reads a line in a Google email discussing the presentation.