Published: Wed, October 17, 2018
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Google altering business model of Android to comply with European regulations

Google altering business model of Android to comply with European regulations

US tech giant Google 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.

Realistically, this probably won't change much for most Android devices.

The changes are in response to a almost $5 billion fine levied at Google by the European Commission.

Included in these changes is the news that smartphone manufacturers shipping handsets to Europe will have to pay a license fee to use Google Play. First, device makers had to include bundle of other official Google apps (Search, Chrome, Translate, Maps, etc.), and they had to agree not to ship unapproved forks (modifications) of the Android OS.

Google is also going to allow for different licensing of apps. The one catch here is that Google is only opening this up to companies distributing to the EEA, meaning any devices would have a significantly limited market to sell in.

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"Android partners wishing to distribute Google apps may also build non-compatible, or forked, smartphones and tablets for the EEA", Lockheimer said.

Writing in a blog post, Google's senior vice president of platforms and ecosystems, Hiroshi Lockheimer, reiterates that the company will be appealing against the EC's ruling, stressing its belief that "Android has created more choice, not less".

Next are the changes to the way Google apps are licensed.

In July, the European Commission fined Google for breaching EU antitrust rules by allegedly forcing EU manufacturers to pre-install Google search and their suite of bundled apps, paying manufacturers to make Google the exclusive search app, and by obstructing the development of competing mobile software. Another license will let phone makers include Google's search engine and Chrome browser. In response, Google CEO Sundar Pichai argued that users could easily install alternatives to Google's apps if they wanted.

The new licensing fees will enter into effect in two weeks, on October 29.

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