Published: Wed, October 17, 2018
Industry | By Faith Ward

European Union force Google to unbundle, license Android application suite to competitors

European Union force Google to unbundle, license Android application suite to competitors

Google is being forced to start charging Android device makers a fee to use the software that previously came free with this operating system.

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.

The tech giant will charge smartphone makers a licensing fee for using its popular Google Play app store and also allow them to use rival versions of its Android mobile operating system to comply with an European Union antitrust order.

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.

Forked versions of Android haven't really performed well apart from China, where most Google services are banned. Samsung Electronics Co, Huawei Technologies Co and other device makers will have to pay Google an undisclosed amount for access to the Google Play app store. The EU Competition Commissioner gave Google 90 days to act upon the ruling.

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In a blog post, Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior Vice President, Platforms & Ecosystems for Google, has revealed how they will comply with the EU's directions.

Google has stated that the bundling of Google Search and Chrome funded the development of the Android operating system. The European Commision claims Google's practice of pre-installing apps like Search and Chrome on Android make it hard for the competition. Last time we reported on the situation, Google had been fined $5 billion for antitrust violations.

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. It's possible device makers will pass this cost along to phone buyers.

Google's hardware partners also will be free to market devices in Europe that run rival versions of Android, including Amazon.com Inc's Fire OS.

Google's making changes to comply with the EC's exact complaints over exclusivity of Android licenses and app bundling, and it's doing so as a show of good faith even as it appeals the decision. Usually, Google insists on bundling its Search, Chrome, Play and other apps all together with Android, though it doesn't charge for them because, well, they make more than enough cash on their own.

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