Google is going to start charging device vendors in Europe a licensing fee to bundle company apps with their Android smartphones.
Google announced the change to comply with the EU’s July antitrust ruling against the company, which fined the tech giant $5.1 billion for what the commission considered to be an abuse of power when it came to the Android operating system.
According to the EU, Google forced Android vendors to pre-install both Google Search and Chrome as pre-condition to offering the Google Play Store app on their phones. European regulators gave the tech giant 90 days to stop the illegal practice or risk facing more fines.
Google is appealing the ruling, but in the meantime, it’s decided to comply with the EU’s order by overhauling the way European vendors bundle apps with their Android smartphones.
“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 (European Economic Area),” Google senior vice president Hiroshi Lockheimer wrote in his blog post.
The Android OS will remain free and open source. However, Google will demand a licensing fee from vendors that want to pre-install Google Play and other company apps such as Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube on their phones.
In addition, the tech giant will offer “new commercial agreements” for vendors that want to pre-install Google Search and Chrome alongside competing apps.
The new licensing options go into effect on Oct. 29. Google hasn’t announced pricing. But for better or worse, the change does open the door for device manufacturers to offer non-Google third-party services alongside Google apps.
To comply with the EU’s order, Google was forced to make another concession on Tuesday; the company said that partner vendors can now sell phones built with non-company approved versions of Android, also known as “Android forks.” According to the EU, these Android forks can also provide an avenue for developers to compete against Google. It pointed to Amazon’s Fire OS, an Android-based operating system, as an example.