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Google Relaxes Its Iron Grip on Android
22 October 2018, 01:56 | Antoinette Holland
Google's Android Apps Are No Longer Free for European Smartphone Makers
The new fees vary depending on country and device type, and it would apply to devices activated on or after February 1st, 2019. Google decided, as well, to stop restrictions on phone makers selling modified or "forked" versions of its mobile operating system.
The tech giant however, has declined to comment. According to documents that the publication obtained, European Union countries are divided into three tiers to determine how much they should pay (the tier with the highest fees consists of the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands).
According to a report in The Verge on Friday, a confidential fee schedule shows costs as high as $40 per device to install the "Google Mobile Services" suite of apps.
Asian device manufacturers are set to take a hit after Google announced that it would begin charging such vendors a licensing fee for apps that were previously bundled for free as part of its Android platform.
The fee will differ by country and device, and will cover Google's Play Store, as well as Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps. More high-end manufacturers such as Samsung are likely to be able to absorb the cost by increasing the price of their devices. It is also dropping the requirement that device makers pre-install its Search app and Chrome browser if they pre-install other Google apps such as YouTube or Google Maps. According to the new agreement, Google would not pay search revenue sharing for devices that do not preinstall Chrome and place it in the phone's home screen dock. Ads connected with those apps and usage data is collected from users to better target ads across Google platforms.
The European Commission ruling does not explicitly require Google to charge licensing fees, but Google is required to break apart its traditional bundle of apps.
"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 (European Economic Area)", Lockheimer wrote. It levied a record $5-billion fine, which Google has appealed, and threatened additional penalties unless the company ended its illegal practices. It means companies will now be able to add the aforementioned apps without adding Chrome and search. If phone or tablet companies want to include any of Google's apps, they'll have to pay, and then decide whether to make a separate browser-and-search deal with Google to make back some of the costs.
Google does not make money from Android, but does receive advertising through search, as well as Chrome, Maps and Gmail.
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