European Union force Google to unbundle, license Android application suite to competitors

European Union force Google to unbundle, license Android application suite to competitors


Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google's head of Android, said the company would begin to offer the licenses October 26, but he didn't say what the pricing would be.

Google has announced changes in how European smartphone and tablet makers can use Google's Android apps in response to the EU's $5 billion fine.

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.

Forked versions of Android haven't really performed well apart from China, where most Google services are banned.

The EU conducted a three-year investigation into Google which found the Mountain View-based company was using its Android operating system to marginalise rivals. Android device makers could turn to other search engines, including lesser-known ones such as Qwant and DuckDuckGo, which tout their strict privacy practices. Android device makers will now be able to license Google's suite of mobile apps (Gmail, Maps, Photos, etc.) separately from Google Search and Google Chrome, which were both previously required.

In an effort to placate Europe's regulators furious at its anticompetitive tactics, Google has overhauled its Android licensing practices for the continent. Without the pre-installation of these apps, European mobile device manufacturers will now need to pay a license fee to bundle Google's Android apps such as Google Play, Maps, and YouTube.

It said the requirement that some manufacturers preinstall Google applications as a condition for licensing the Google Play store, as well as the payments made to other, larger phone makers and operators for pre-installing the Google search app on devices were helping to cement the company's search leadership.

This is all because the European Commission fined the internet advertising giant €4.34bn ($5bn) in mid-July for breaking EU anti-trust laws. He then goes on to list a number of changes Google will make in order to comply with the ruling while waiting for the appeal to be heard. 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 one effect of the move, Google said, was that manufactures would face a new fee. This summer, the European Commission ruled that strategy to be anti-competitive. While Android will continue to be free and open source, the lack of guaranteed revenue from Google search through Chrome and the Google app means that a license fee will be introduced for the suite of apps and services.

  • Terrell Bush