Google's Android Apps Are No Longer Free for European Smartphone Makers

Google will charge phone makers to use Android apps in Europe

Google announces that it will begin charging Android manufacturers for its apps

For the first time in its history, Google will no longer force manufacturers to sign agreements related to pre-installing nearly all Google apps.

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.

"If, for example, Samsung wanted to do a really pure Samsung device based on a forked version of Android, with a Samsung browser, Samsung Maps and Bixby as the lead voice assistant - but without the parallel Google services - they could", said Ben Wood, from the CCS Insight consultancy. In the rest of the world, the Google Search App will still be required on all devices that include the Google mobile application suite.

That fee will prove access to classic Android apps like Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps, but not Chrome. Failure to end the illegal business practices can result in additional fines.

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.

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.

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

This new license agreement is planned to go into effect on October 29th, 2018 for all new smartphones and tablets launched in Europe.

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. In providing Android free to any device maker to use and modify, Google helped make the software available everywhere - in phones, tablets, cars and refrigerators. As well as the penalty, the commission gave Google 90 days to make amends, and those three months are now virtually up, hence these latest concessions.

For the first time in its history, Google will charge Android phone makers that want to sell devices with the Google Play Store and other apps pre-installed.

Google is appealing this decision, but in the meantime it is enacting new rules to comply with it. "Android will remain free and open source." writes Google's Hiroshi Lockheimer in a blog post.

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