Google to charge phone makers for Android apps in Europe
1 months ago, 17 Oct 08:51
Google has always made its Android mobile operating system available free as a way of getting its search engine, web browser and other applications on as many devices as possible to collect data about users and to sell advertising.
But on Tuesday, in response to a European antitrust ruling this year, the company said it would for the first time begin charging handset manufacturers to install Gmail, Google Maps and other popular applications for Android in the European Union.
The new arrangement is the latest sign that global technology companies are adjusting their business practices in Europe to account for stiffer regulations there.
Online privacy regulations adopted in May have forced companies doing business in Europe to add new data protection policies that restrict how people are tracked across the internet.
A copyright law being negotiated in the European Union would also limit what articles and videos a website could post online without a license.
Google faced a deadline for making changes to Android after European regulators fined the company a record 4.34 billion euros, or about $5 billion, in July for unfairly bundling free Android services to maintain its dominance of the online search and advertising market.
By obligating handset makers to load the free apps along with the Android operating system, regulators said, Google had boxed out competitors.
With the company now required to separate its services in Europe, handset manufacturers such as Samsung and Huawei will now have more flexibility there to choose what applications they want to pre-install on phones.
Google said it would sell a licence for a package including its Google Play app store, Gmail, YouTube and Maps.
Another licence will be available for companies that want to pre-install Google Search and the Chrome browser, allowing handset makers to team up with rival services. The company did not say how much it would charge for the licenses.
Own ways to comply
The European Commission had allowed Google to come up with its own ways to comply with the decision, putting pressure on regulators to ensure that the company met its obligations.
The ultimate effect of the change announced on Tuesday remains to be seen, but European customers will probably see a wider variety of Android devices to choose from. Some will come with Google’s services; others may more prominently feature applications made by competitors.
Android is the world’s most widely used mobile operating system, powering more than 80 percent of the world’s smartphones.
Google said more than 24,000 different kinds of devices run the software.
Using Android has allowed companies like Samsung to compete against Apple’s iPhone without having to make their own software.
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.
But the company tied the use of the popular Play store, where customers can download more than 1 million apps made by outside developers, to requirements that device makers feature other, ad-driven services like Google’s search engine and web browser.
Some handset makers argued to European regulators that Google’s terms made it ...
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