Google unshackles Android-device-makers

Android smartphone makers will have increased flexibility to distribute search and browser apps from Google's rivals such as Microsoft, Opera Ltd and Mozilla to develop devices with the operating system heavily customized.

After receiving a record-breaking €4.34 billion fine in the European Union for violating anti-trust laws, Google has announced today changes to Android's licensing model for the European Union zone. "But the company tied the use of the popular Play store, where customers can download more than one million apps made by outside developers, to requirements that device makers feature other, ad-driven services like Google's search engine and web browser".

The alternative is to use none of Google's suite of apps, and thus don't get access to the official Play Store.

First, we're updating the compatibility agreements with mobile device makers that set out how Android is used to develop smartphones and tablets.

The search giant on Tuesday said it will offer a paid license for phone and tablet manufacturers in Europe that want to include its Google Play app store, Maps, Gmail and Google-owned YouTube.

"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.

The news comes after a record antitrust fine from the European Commission earlier this summer, which claimed Google's business practices around the Android mobile operating system hurt competition in the industry.


But if Google had failed to ensure compliance with the Commission decision, it would be liable to fines of up to 5 percent of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google's parent company.

Now that all Android software isn't free, only time will tell if device makers will ask consumers to cover the cost of licensing fees.

These new rules will take effect on October 29.

"The big challenge for phone-makers is to try to replicate the success that Apple has had with monetising its devices after they have been bought, which it has done by selling services such as iCloud storage and Apple Music". Google Search and Chrome will now be licensed (for free) as a separate and optional package.

The way OEMs ship Android on devices in Europe will be quite different going forward, as Google explains in a new blog post.

This will also hopefully appease Google competitors which complained the current business model stifled competition to such an extent other products couldn't even hope to compete.


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