Google to charge phone vendors for its Android apps in Europe

Google to charge smartphone makers for Google Play in Europe

Google will charge phone makers to use Android apps in Europe

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

Google recently was hit with a $5 billion fine from the European Union, and to avoid more fines while the company challenges the European Union in court, it is now complying with new regulatory rules. Also, the "base package" of the Play Store and Google's other apps (Gmail, Duo, etc) will now require a licensing fee. But here's the rub: now that Google is removing Search and Chrome from the app bundle, the two apps that actually make Google money, it will have to make the rest of its apps available through a paid license. The company has always stood by the argument that manufacturers are not required to include Google 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. "Android will remain free and open source." writes Google's Hiroshi Lockheimer in a blog post.

Secondly, Google will offer commercial agreements to partners for the non-exclusive pre-installation and placement of Google Search and Chrome.

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

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On top of the new app fees, Lockheimer said that phone vendors are also free to distribute unofficial forks of the Android OS and that they can also skip installing the Search and Chrome apps, which until now have been deal-breakers.

The coming weeks will reveal whether Google's appeal is accepted or the original decision is enacted, but Google plans on placing the above licensing changes into effect on October 29 regardless.

"We have confirmed to the European Commission how we will comply with its recent decision on Android", said Al Verney, a spokesperson for Google in Brussels. Alphabet, Google's parent company, makes nearly 90 percent of its $100 billion in annual sales from search and advertising. The idea was that by offering Android for free, the company could spread the use of its services, like search and web browsing. In response, Google CEO Sundar Pichai argued that users could easily install alternatives to Google's apps if they wanted.

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