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Android Might Go Pay-To-Play in Europe Later This Month

by Justin Herrick | October 17, 2018October 17, 2018 6:30 am PST

Android’s always been a free and open ecosystem, but some areas of its structure will be tweaked in Europe after antitrust violations against Google were discovered earlier this year.

It already paid a significant fine to the tune of $5 billion, but the European Union also instructed a change in business model. As we’re learning now, Google will soon start charging for access.

Because of pre-installed apps like Search and Chrome, the EU thinks there are third-party alternatives blocked from succeeding. Google lets users download additional apps, but that’s through Google Play. And to get access to the Play Store, hardware manufacturers are required to offer the full suite of Google Mobile Services. The solution would be to put a price on, well, everything.

Hiroshi Lockheimer, who runs Android and Chrome, wrote a blog post in which he explains the tweaks to Android’s business model. Moving forward, partners are no longer required to bundle everything. Google will offer separate licenses for Search, Chrome, the Play Store, and the rest of apps available.

All licenses carry a price despite Google’s ability to generate revenue on advertisements across most of its products and services. Even if the partner uses a forked version of Android, they’re now able to take advantage of the individual apps. Google blocked these partners, including Amazon, in the past, but the EU’s decision causes the ban to lift.

Based on the blog post, everything boils down to partners in Europe getting to pick and choose what they want with few limitations.

On the other side, Google still looks at Android as a global asset for the mobile industry. It contends that the platform sparked innovation, increased diversity, and brought prices down. Still, the EU refuses to budge and thus Android must be restructured in part of the world.

If it doesn’t comply, the Mountain View-based would have 5 percent of its parent company’s average daily revenue rolled into the total amount of the fine. Sundar Pichai, who’s been leading Google since 2015, confirmed there would be an appeal. Internally, the company thinks it can make a strong defense.

The appeal was filed last week, but the changes are organized so that operations remain intact in the even the European Commission declines reversing its decision. Google might know a favorable outcome isn’t likely.


Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...

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