Published: Wed, October 17, 2018
Industry | By Dora Warner

Google will start charging Android smartphone makers to use its apps

Google will start charging Android smartphone makers to use its apps

The EC took particular umbrage with Google's requirements to include several Google apps as a bundle, and that licensees making Google-sanctioned Android devices were forbidden from making non-Google-licensed (aka "forked") Android devices.

Google will have to allow smartphone manufacturers to ship Android devices in the EU without Google Chrome preinstalled, as a result of the massive Euro 4.34 billion fine imposed on the company by European Commission antitrust regulators in July this year.

Phone vendors will have to comply with Google's old rules if they want to ship Android smartphones and tablets in other parts of the world. But Google's also putting its foot down to show just how much value it gives away for free as of today, with a suite of extremely popular and well-made apps that would typically cost companies millions of dollars to develop for themselves.

The EU conducted a three-year investigation into Google which found the Mountain View-based company was using its Android operating system to marginalise rivals.

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In a blogpost detailing the solution, Google said it would change existing practice and allow smartphone and tablet makers - such as Samsung or Huawei - to create non-Android compliant phones in parallel to compliant ones.

Details are still few about what the financial consequences of this move will be for Google, which is going to start selling a license for a package that includes Gmail, YouTube, Maps and the Google Play store.

The EU's Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, has previously suggested that Google's restrictions prevented "forked" versions of Android, including Amazon's Fire OS, from having more impact.

Android is the world's dominant mobile operating system, accounting for more than 85 per cent of the global smartphone market, but in July this year, the European Union concluded the negative aspects of Google's dominance and its licensing practices were hard to ignore. In addition, Google was fined a huge $5 billion for antitrust violations.

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The coming weeks will reveal whether Google's appeal is accepted or the original decision is enacted, but Google plans on placing the above licensing changes into effect on October 29 regardless. While Android will continue to be free and open source, the lack of guaranteed revenue from Google search through Chrome and the Google app means that a license fee will be introduced for the suite of apps and services.

But one outcome of the move, Google said, was that manufactures would face a new fee. This was done so Google can comply with the EU Commission's anti-trust ruling.

By being forced to put an end to this practice, Google now says they'll have to charge licensing fees for Android device makers who want to pre-install their apps and services on an individual basis.

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