Google to Start Charging a Fee to Android Manufacturers for Using Apps in Europe

Google is striking back against Europe after a summertime ruling that cost them billions. The company has now decided that in Europe they will be charging Android device manufacturers to use their suite of apps, a cost that will of course be passed off to the user.

In January European regulators fined Google 4.34 billion euros (about $5 billion) for unfairly bundling their free suite of apps along with the Android operating system. They felt this was forcing out their competition.

Google was facing a deadline to make changes to their usage on Android devices. They are now required to separate the individual Google services in Europe and not offer it as one big bundle.

Previously, Google offered the Android system for free, combined with all the Google apps. It allowed them to have Google in use on a greater number of devices.

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This leaves device manufacturers that run the Android system, such as Samsung and Huawei, to now be able to choose which applications they want to pre-install on their phones and other devices. They aren’t stuck with the bundle.

The European Commission left it up to Google to decide how it would comply. Android is already the world’s most widely used mobile OS and in use on more than eighty percent of smartphones.

With Google developing the apps, it leaves more wiggle room for the device manufacturers to compete against Apple and their iPhone, as they only have to worry about creating a device, not an entire OS.

Some device manufacturers had complained to the European regulators that Google made it impossible for them to create devices that weren’t dependent on the company’s suite of apps. But after Google announced they were striking back, the device manufacturers will now have more freedom.

Google announced that within the European Union, they will now be charging the device manufacturers to install their apps on Android devices. They will sell a license for a package that includes Google Play, Gmail, YouTube, and Maps. Another license will include Google Search and the Chrome browser.

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“Android phone makers wishing to distribute Google apps may now also build non-compatible, or forked, smartphones and tablets” in Europe, said the company in a statement. “They will also be able to license Google Play separately from Search and Chrome, with full freedom to install rival apps as before.”

Google did not announce any numbers, as far as how this will impact manufacturers or how much they will charge for these plans, but they did say the licensing fees are necessary for them to recoup lost ad revenue. They will also offer incentives to manufacturers that continue to use Google Search and Chrome, giving these companies an advantage over competitors.

Google’s change isn’t necessarily written in stone. They are appealing the decision of the European Commission, and that could take years before it’s all said and done. And if Google eventually ends up being the victor, they could go back to bundling everything for free.

You’re probably saying that’s all well and good but wondering how will that affect you, the consumer. If the device manufacturers want to stick with the Google apps, they need to pay, and that cost will most definitely be passed off to you, meaning European Androids just became more expensive.

You don’t live in Europe? Maybe Androids could still be more costly. Would it really be advisable for for the device manufacturers to offer one price in Europe and a cheaper one to the rest of the world? Or will they just make all their devices a little more expensive. Or will they eschew Google altogether and just find third-party apps to install instead?

How do you think it will turn out for Google to charge for the use of their apps on Android when sold in Europe? Let us know your thoughts about it in the comments section below.

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