In July, Google was slapped with a huge $5 billion antitrust fine by the EU for Android. The company is now in the process of appealing to the European Commission while making significant changes to the way it distributes Android.
TL;DR: it’s going to start charging Android manufacturers a fee for its apps in Europe.
Android manufacturers in Europe will now be able to sell Android devices without needing to bundle Google apps like Google Search, Chrome, or Play Store. And if they do want to include any of these apps, they will have to pay to license these apps separately for their devices. That means if a manufacturer — say, OnePlus — wants to include the Google Play Store on its next flagship phone, it will be required to pay an additional fee.
Google is also responding to the European Commission’s complaint about the company preventing manufacturers that make devices with Android forks from bundling its apps. With the new paid licensing program, any Android manufacturer will be able to license Google apps — including the Play Store — for devices that run Android forks. A major, much-needed change here, even though it comes at an extra cost.
Here’s the thing, though: Google charging manufacturers an additional fee for bundling its apps is just another example of the company abusing its power. “Since the pre-installation of Google Search and Chrome together with our other apps helped us fund the development and free distribution of Android, we will introduce a new paid licensing agreement for smartphones and tablets shipped into the EEA. Android will remain free and open source,” Google said in a blog post. In reality, though, the extra fee manufacturers have to pay for bundling Google apps will most likely be passed on to us, the consumers. And that’s probably going to lead to an additional increase in the price of your next Android phone.
Plus, let’s not even consider the possibility of manufacturers making phones without Google apps — a new Android device with no Google Play Store is practically dead on arrival.
Google’s new policy goes live on October 29. Look out for a response from the European Commission sometime soon.