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17 Oct 2018

Google To Begin Charging Fees For Android Apps

Google laid out plans to stop bundling preinstalled apps with its Android platform and instead charge manufacturers a fee to license its apps, as part of a bid to avoid additional fines from European Union (EU) regulators.

The European Commission (EC) in July issued a €4.3 billion fine to Google after it found the tech giant abused the dominant position of its Android platform to force manufacturers to install its apps on devices. It gave the tech giant until 28 October to change its business practices or face further penalties.

In a blog post, Google SVP of platforms and ecosystems Hiroshi Lockheimer noted Google has filed to appeal the EC’s decision, but is introducing changes to comply with the ruling while the appeal is pending.
Starting 29 October, Google said it will offer individual paid licences for its Search app and Chrome browser, as well as a bundled licence for the rest of its app suite, which includes YouTube, Maps and Gmail, for manufacturers who want to preinstall the apps on devices shipped to the EU.

Lockheimer did not say how much the new licences will cost, but noted the funds would contribute to the continued development and free distribution of its Android operating system. Google also said it will now allow device makers to build modified or “forked” versions of its Android platform for smartphones and tablets offered in the EU. The move reverses a previous policy which blocked manufacturers from offering its suite of apps on such devices.

The changes bring to fruition a warning from Google CEO Sundar Pichai in July that the company may have to start charging for its apps following the EC decision, which he said “upset the careful balance that we have struck with Android”.

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