Google unshackles Android-device-makers

Google unshackles Android-device-makers

Google unshackles Android-device-makers

Brussels accused Google of using the Android system's dominance of smartphones and tablets to promote the use of its own Google search engine and shut out rivals.

Google is preparing for a major shift to its business model in response to a record-breaking European Union fine this summer over the rules that Google binds Android handset makers to if they want access to the OS - rules that include requiring those handset manufacturers to set Google's own search and web browsers as the default offerings.

Android manufacturers will be able to ship smartphones and tablets running forked versions of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) operating system that do not include Google's apps and services.

"In fact, the decision is created to allow, for the first time, competing search and browser providers to compete on the merits with Google for pre-installation on Android devices, leading to greater choice for consumers". Forked devices with the Play Store may be more interesting though. The changes fall into two groups: how Google will handle Android licensing terms in the European Economic Area (EEA), and how it will handle licensing of its Google apps on top of Android.

Google will sell licenses to Europe-based consumer-electronic companies for a package that includes the Google Play app store, Gmail YouTube and Google Maps.

"We'll be working closely with our Android partners in the coming weeks and months to transition to the new agreements", wrote Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google's senior vice president of platforms, in a blog post. The company was also fined about $5 billion.

But one outcome of the move, Google said, was that manufactures would face a new fee.

Google says this new policy will take effect October 29, 2018, for all new smartphones and tablets launched in the EEA.

In July, the European Commission fined Google for breaching EU antitrust rules by allegedly forcing EU manufacturers to pre-install Google search and their suite of bundled apps, paying manufacturers to make Google the exclusive search app, and by obstructing the development of competing mobile software.

The company said the licensing fees will offset revenue lost as a result of its compliance efforts.

"We have confirmed to the European Commission how we will comply with its recent decision on Android", said Al Verney, a spokesperson for Google in Brussels. It's possible device makers will pass this cost along to phone buyers. Google has now filed an appeal against the ruling, continuing to argue that Android helps competition rather than hinder it.

Related news