Google to Charge for Apps on Android Phones in Europe

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Although Google has always allowed OEMs to pre-install other competitive services on Android smartphones and tablets, OEMs could not release Android devices with the Google suite of apps and devices without Google apps in the EAA. 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.

It is ending a ban on manufacturers having a line-up that includes tablets and phones powered by alternative versions of the operating system to its own as well as ones that feature Google's own apps and Play Store.

The company is taking the measures to comply with the July ruling by European Union authorities that found Google allegedly abused the dominance of Android to stifle competitors.

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.

"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.

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This is all because the European Commission fined the internet advertising giant €4.34bn ($5bn) in mid-July for breaking EU anti-trust laws.

Second, device manufacturers will be able to license the Google mobile application suite separately from the Google Search App or the Chrome browser. The commission typically lets companies tweak compliance efforts as feedback comes in from customers and rivals.

This could have the rather nasty knock-on effect of hardware makers passing on the cost of forking out for a license on to consumers in the way of hiked up more-expensive smartphones phones. Google has now filed an appeal against the ruling, continuing to argue that Android helps competition rather than hinder it.

Google has not announced what the fee structure will be, but it will only apply for devices that are intended for sale in the 31 member countries of the European Economic Area. But we will likely see more companies experimenting with Google-free Android from here on out. The licensing fees aren't available for each app alone but for the Google mobile application suite as a whole, which includes all the Google apps, except the Chrome and Search apps, which will be offered under separate licensing fees.

Google is introducing the changes at the end of October to meet a deadline set out in the European Commission's decision, which it is appealing in a process that could take years.

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