Google has not typically charged for its Android apps, instead allowing third-party firms to harness them for free.
That is because the Mountain View company makes a score of revenue through its Search application and Chrome browser.
Back in July the European Commission fined Google the whopping sum after claiming “illegal restrictions” were imposed on Android device manufacturers to “cement its dominant position in general internet search”.
The European Commission insisted the required pre-installation of both the Google Search and Chrome applications in exchange for its Play Store licence should be altered.
Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy for the Commission, said: “Today, mobile internet makes up more than half of global internet traffic.
“It has changed the lives of millions of Europeans.
“Our case is about three types of restrictions that Google has imposed on Android device manufacturers and network operators to ensure that traffic on Android devices goes to the Google search engine.”
In response to the fine and claims, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, responded by insisting Android has created more choice for users in a counter to the European Commission’s argument.
He said: “If you buy an Android phone, you’re choosing one of the world’s two most popular mobile platforms—one that has expanded the choice of phones available around the world.
“The European Commission issued a competition decision against Android, and its business model.
“The decision ignores the fact that Android phones compete with iOS phones, something that 89 percent of respondents to the Commission’s own market survey confirmed.”
Google has appealed the moves from the Commission but in the meantime has outlined its future changes to Android that will “comply with the decision”.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s Senior Vice President for platforms and ecosystems, declared: “First, we’re updating the compatibility agreements with mobile device makers that set out how Android is used to develop smartphones and tablets.
“Going forward, Android partners wishing to distribute Google apps may also build non-compatible, or forked, smartphones and tablets for the European Economic Area (EEA).”
Most notably, Lockheimer said manufacturers will be able to “license the Google mobile application suite” for a fee.
He went on: “Second, device manufacturers will be able to license the Google mobile application suite separately from the Google Search App or the Chrome browser.
“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.
“Third, we will offer separate licenses to the Google Search app and to Chrome.”
The statements from Google could lead to manufacturers charging more for their devices in order to compensate for the licensing cost for Google’s apps.
However, it is currently unknown how much Google will charge for its suite of apps.
It is also possible device manufacturers may wish to forgo the new cost entirely and product a phone running Android without any Google apps whatsoever.