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

Android Pie statue

Google offers solutions to avoid more EU Android fines

Instead, Google will allow device manufacturers to pre-install the Google Play Store on a stand-alone basis, and offer the option to pre-install Google's other proprietary apps for an extra, unspecified fee. The Play Store app grants access to the official Google Play Store where most of the millions of Android apps are hosted.

Last time we reported on the situation, Google had been fined $5 billion for antitrust violations.

Included in these changes is the news that smartphone manufacturers shipping handsets to Europe will have to pay a license fee to use Google Play.

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"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", Hiroshi Lockheimer, senior vice president for platforms and ecosystems, said in a blog. For example a company could make a regular Android phone with full Google certification, and also an Android tablet with its own version of the OS and no Google apps or services. So now, you could theoretically see a phone that had Gmail and Google Maps, but with Microsoft's Bing search engine and Mozilla Firefox with no sign of Google Search or Chrome at all. 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). This was done so Google can comply with the EU Commission's anti-trust ruling. The crux of the EC's decision earlier this year was its opinion that Google was taking advantage of its position as a dominant operating system to be unfriendly to companies making Android devices. The European Commision claims Google's practice of pre-installing apps like Search and Chrome on Android make it hard for the competition.

The changes will apply on October 29 for all new smartphones and tablets sold in the EEA. As before, competing apps may be pre-installed alongside ours.

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