Google will start charging Android smartphone makers to use its apps
Google will start charging Android smartphone makers to use its apps
Google offers solutions to avoid more EU Android fines
18 October, 2018, 03:29
Google will charge Android phone-makers in Europe to include Google Play access, as the search giant adjusts its policies to comply with an European Union antitrust ruling. These devices are so cheap partially because the Android operating system and the bundled applications are free.
The crux of the issue is the monopoly Google has garnered within the Android app marketplace and the advertising advantage this provides the company. The last time we saw an MADA document (back in 2014), it had an "anti-fragmentation" clause, which said that any company signing the agreement has to be all-in on Google's Android. If you want the Play Store, Google Maps, Gmail, and all the other Google apps you need to make a viable commercial smartphone, though, you need to talk to Google and sign an MADA, which comes with a ton of restrictions.
"That's been harder to do for Android licensees as a lot of the revenue from their devices has flowed to Google via things like Search and Maps".
Forked versions of Android haven't really performed well apart from China, where most Google services are banned.
Earlier this year, the European watchdog fined the search giant $5 billion for the for the illegal monopolization of online services on the Android platform. This summer, the European Commission ruled that strategy to be anti-competitive. Lockheimer did not say how much the new licences will cost, but noted the funds would contribute to the continued development and free distribution of its Android operating system. 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.
"Device manufacturers will be able to license the Google mobile application suite separately from the Google Search App or the Chrome browser", said Hiroshi Lockheimer, senior vice president of platform and ecosystems at Google.
In a blog post detailing the move, 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. Another change will see more flexibility in devices with the Google apps preloaded.
For any decent phone vendor, the Play Store app is a must. Google has now filed an appeal against the ruling, continuing to argue that Android helps competition rather than hinder it.
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