Google to start charging for Google Play

Joshua Bennett
October 18, 2018

Device makers will also now be able to install rival modified, or "forked", versions of Android, the most widely used mobile operating system. "In July, the European Union ruled that this bundling was anti-competitive - pushing consumers towards Google's search engine and weakening rival app makers - though it only specifically called for Google to separate Chrome and Search from Play".

The way OEMs ship Android on devices in Europe will be quite different going forward, as Google explains in a new blog post.

The company said the licensing fees will offset revenue lost because of its compliance efforts.

It said the requirement that some manufacturers preinstall Google applications as a condition for licensing the Google Play store, as well as the payments made to other, larger phone makers and operators for pre-installing the Google search app on devices were helping to cement the company's search leadership.

Google refused to specify the amount of the license fee or whether manufacturers would pass it along to customers.

Until now, Google has only allowed phone vendors to ship the Play Store app with their phones only if they abide by strict rules. The core Android OS, Google says "will remain free and open source".

The most important change Google announced today will be new fees OEMs will have to pay to pre-install Google services on Android devices.

At last, there are also Progressive Web Apps on Windows instead of the Chrome apps that Google killed earlier this year, the new decoder, and so on. I'm sure some OEMs would want to test the waters of forked Android and launch a device or two without the Google apps, but the anti-fragmentation clause would mean they would immediately be booted from the ecosystem. Google will also offer commercial licenses to European companies that wish to pre-install Google Search and the company's Chrome browser.

While it's always great to see that big businesses can be held accountable for their operations, in practice there is a chance that Android phones will see an increase in price, with manufacturers offloading the addition cost of licensing onto the consumers. The move reverses a previous policy which blocked manufacturers from offering its suite of apps on such devices.

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