Google tweaks Android licensing terms in Europe to allow Google app unbundling — for a fee

Google has announced changes to the license model for its Android mobile operating system in Europe, including the introduction of a license fee for some of its own branded applications, saying it is doing so to comply with an important European antitrust rule this summer

In July, antitrust regulators in the region hit Google with a record fine of $ 5BN for Android-related violations, finding that the company had abused the domain of the platform at require manufacturers to pre-install other Google applications in order to license them. your popular Play app store.

Regulators also found that Google had made payments to manufacturers and mobile network operators in exchange for exclusively pre-installing Google Search on their devices, and used the Play Store license to prevent manufacturers from selling devices based In the forks of Android

Google questions the findings of the Commission, and last week filed its appeal, a legal process that could take years. But in the meantime, it is making changes to the way it licenses Android in Europe to avoid the risk of additional penalties in addition to the antitrust fine.

Hiroshi Lockheimer, senior vice president of platforms and ecosystems at Google, revealed the new licensing options in a blog post published today.

Under the updated "compatibility agreements", write that mobile device manufacturers will be able to build and sell Android devices destined for the European Economic Area (EEE) with and without preloaded Google mobile applications – something The same "compatibility" contracts Google prevented them from doing it before, when it was strictly one or the other (either created the forks of Android or created Android devices with Google applications, not both).

"Henceforth, Android partners who wish to Distribute Google applications can also build smartphones and tablets that are not compatible, or bifurcated, for the European Economic Area (EEA)," confirms Lockheimer.

However, the any draft is also changing the way it licenses the entire Android package, which previously required OEMs to load devices with the Google mobile suite, Google Search, and the Chrome browser in order to offer the popular Play Store, by introducing tariffs for OEMs who wish to preload a subset of those same applications into "a new paid license agreement for smartphones and tablets sent to the EEA".

Although Google insists that there will be no charges for using the Android platform itself. (Therefore, a pure bifurcation without any pre-loaded Google service would not yet require a fee).

Google also seems to be dividing Google Search and Chrome from the rest of the Google applications in its mobile suite (which traditionally means things like YouTube, Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps, although the publication of Lockheimer's blog does not clarify what Exact applications are speaking, allowing OEMs to selectively separate some applications from Google, although potentially for a fee, depending on the applications in question 19659002] "[D] device manufacturers will be able to obtain the license from the Google's mobile application application separately from the Google search application or the Chrome browser, "is what Lockheimer writes in an obscure way.

Google may want future Android forks disaggregated may still have Google Search or Chrome, even if they do not have Play Store, but it is not entirely clear which settings of the ap Google policies will be allowed under the new license terms, and will not be.

"Since the pre-installation of Google Search and Chrome, along with our other applications, helped us fund the development and free distribution of Android., We will introduce a new payment license agreement for smartphones and tablets sent to the EEA, Android will remain free and open source, "adds Lockheimer, without specifying what the rates will be.

" We will also offer new commercial agreements to partners for non-exclusive Google pre-installation and placement. Search and Chrome. As before, competing applications can be preinstalled together with ours, "continues to complete its trio of poorly explained license changes.

We have asked Google to clarify the various configurations of allowed and unauthorized applications, as well as applications will require a fee (and which will not be), and the amount thereof, and will update this publication with any response.

The devil in all those details should be clear soon, however, Google says the new license The options will go into effect on October 29 for all new smartphones and tablets (based on Android) launched in the EEA.