Google to charge smartphone makers to use Google Play in Europe in response to antitrust ruling

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Following a European Commission ruling earlier in the year that Google had exploited Android for "very serious illegal behavior" and used its mobile operating system "as a vehicle to cement its dominance as a search engine", the company was hit with a record €4.34 billion ($5 billion) fine.

Today Google has outlined how it will respond to the European ruling, in addition to appealing against it. One of the things the company will do is to start charging smartphone makers a licensing fee to use Google Play.

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Writing in a blog post, Google's senior vice president of platforms and ecosystems, Hiroshi Lockheimer, reiterates that the company will be appealing against the EC's ruling, stressing its belief that "Android has created more choice, not less". He then goes on to list a number of changes Google will make in order to comply with the ruling while waiting for the appeal to be heard.

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. Lockheimer says that money collected in this way will be used to offset the costs incurred by the new compliance measures it is implementing.

He explains:

First, we're updating the compatibility agreements with mobile device makers that set out how Android is used to develop smartphones and tablets. Going forward, Android partners wishing to distribute Google apps may also build non-compatible, or forked, smartphones and tablets for the European Economic Area (EEA).

Second, device manufacturers will be able to license the Google mobile application suite separately from the Google Search App or the Chrome browser. Since the pre-installation of Google Search and Chrome together with our other apps helped us fund the development and free distribution of Android, we will introduce a new paid licensing agreement for smartphones and tablets shipped into the EEA. Android will remain free and open source.

Third, we will offer separate licenses to the Google Search app and to Chrome.

We'll also offer new commercial agreements to partners for the non-exclusive pre-installation and placement of Google Search and Chrome. As before, competing apps may be pre-installed alongside ours.

The new scheme will come into force on October 29, and will only apply to new smartphones and tablets in the European Economic Area.

Image credit: NextNewMedia / Shutterstock

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