Tech

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

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

The European Commission in July hit Google with its biggest ever fine, imposing a 4.34 billion euro ($5 billion) penalty, giving the USA tech giant 90 days to change its practices. 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 new rules will unfortunately be new fees for building Google-ified Android devices.

The European Commission found Google guilty of preventing Android manufacturers from selling devices with unapproved Android forks (like Meizu's Flyme OS and Amazon's Fire OS), paying manufacturers to pre-install Search exclusively, and requiring them to include Google Search and Chrome on their devices. This means that companies will still be able to create their own versions. The one catch here is that Google is only opening this up to companies distributing to the EEA, meaning any devices would have a significantly limited market to sell in.

This will also hopefully appease Google competitors which complained the current business model stifled competition to such an extent other products couldn't even hope to compete.

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Google is revamping its requirements for pre-installed Google services on Android to comply with new regulations. Another license will let phone makers include Google's search engine and Chrome browser. This means OEMs in the European Union can now sell Android phones without Search or Chrome. But here's the rub: now that Google is removing Search and Chrome from the app bundle, the two apps that actually make Google money, it will have to make the rest of its apps available through a paid license. Lockheimer says the pre-installation of apps helped fund the free distribution of Android. In response, Google CEO Sundar Pichai argued that users could easily install alternatives to Google's apps if they wanted.

In a blogpost detailing the solution, Google said it would change existing practice and allow smartphone and tablet makers - such as Samsung or Huawei - to create non-Android compliant phones in parallel to compliant ones.