Google is dropping restrictions it imposed on Android-device-makers, following a clash with the EU.
The changes are in response to a almost $5 billion fine levied at Google by the European Commission.
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.
Google Chrome and Search will also be available, but will need to be licensed under separate agreements. "The decision does not require Google to charge for any of its apps or for the Play Store", an EC spokesperson said in a widely distributes statement.
The EU's main problem with Google isn't about Android specifically, but with the company's dominance of search traffic. Android itself will remain free, as will Chrome as it is bundled with the Google Search app, but everything else will be chargeable. Failure to end the illegal business practices can result in additional fines. The changes, Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior Vice President of Platforms & Ecosystems at Google says, will be implemented while the appeal is pending. Regulators said 95 percent of Android users around the world were using their device's default search engine - Google Search - rather than choosing an alternative. In addition, Google was fined a huge $5 billion for antitrust violations. The European Commision claims Google's practice of pre-installing apps like Search and Chrome on Android make it hard for the competition.
Since the revenue from including Search and Chrome helped fund development for Android, the exclusion of those two apps means that Google will now be charging a licensing fee for the Google app suite (which includes the Play Store and other Google services that define most Android devices).
These new licensing options will come into effect on October 29, 2018, for all new smartphones and tablets launched in the EEA.
"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.
From a customer perspective, it's not likely that much will change here unless European smartphone makers decide to pass these new costs on to their customers.
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. This was done so Google can comply with the EU Commission's anti-trust ruling.
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