Google's Android Apps Are No Longer Free for European Smartphone Makers

Google's Android Apps Are No Longer Free for European Smartphone Makers

As part of this ruling, Google was told they needed to stop this behavior. Another change will see more flexibility in devices with the Google apps preloaded.

The most significant change from the manufacturer side is that Google will now allow companies that make Android devices with Google apps to also make other Android devices with their own "forked" versions of the operating system and no Google apps.

Presently, it's unclear if every Android smartphone sold within Europe will require a license fee, or if the move will only apply to European companies. Google will now charge a licensing fee for Android device makers that want to deliver handsets pre-installed with apps like Gmail and YouTube within the EU.

The European Economic Area (EEA) comprises the 28 EU countries, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. This means the pre-installation and priority status of Android applications like Google Search, Gmail, Google Maps, the Google Play Store, etc., will no longer be required. But the EC took umbrage with such a setup, decided Google was being anticompetitive and, after some legal wrangling, it hit the company with a fine to the tune of £3.8bn. The company is now appealing the EU's antitrust decision.

It's not clear whether or not companies will still be able to choose a bundled app option to skip these fees. Google is also going to sell a separate license for Android device makers that want to use Google Search and Chrome but pair those with services from Google competitors.

Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google's head of Android, said the company would begin to offer the licenses October 26, but he didn't say what the pricing would be.

The Android operating itself will remain free and open source.

The commission objected to three of Google's practices in particular: the requirement to ship Google Search, Chrome and other apps with Android, payments to phone makers to make Google Search the default, and restrictions on manufacturers creating forks of Android.

As a first step, Android OEMs will now be able to sell forked Android handsets in the European Union while still being able to sell vanilla Google Android handsets.

In an effort to placate Europe's regulators furious at its anticompetitive tactics, Google has overhauled its Android licensing practices for the continent. Google has now filed an appeal against the ruling, continuing to argue that Android helps competition rather than hinder it.

Feb 5, 2014 - Google improves its concessions related to online search.

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