Google will now charge for its Android app suite in Europe

Google will now charge for its Android app suite in Europe

As The Verge notes, it's just Google's apps and services, which have nearly become synonymous with the mobile OS, that will become fee-based in Europe.

The European Commission in July hit Google with its biggest ever fine, imposing a 4.34 billion euro ($5 billion) penalty, giving the United States tech giant 90 days to change its practices.

It is ending a ban on manufacturers having a line-up that includes tablets and phones powered by alternative versions of the operating system to its own as well as ones that feature Google's own apps and Play Store.

The EU conducted a three-year investigation into Google which found the Mountain View-based company was using its Android operating system to marginalise rivals. The Play Store app grants access to the official Google Play Store where most of the millions of Android apps are hosted.

"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".

This only applies in Europe, though, as it's a result of the European Union ruling that Google used anti-competitive business practices. "As before, competing apps may be pre-installed alongside ours", added Hiroshi Lockheimer, senior vice president of platforms and ecosystems at Google. Another bundle will include Google Search and Chrome. Last time we reported on the situation, Google had been fined $5 billion for antitrust violations.

But one effect of the move, Google said, was that manufactures would face a new fee. The new rules will come into play from October 29, though the fees will only apply to new smartphones and tablets launched in the EEA. Google was also told to stop "illegally tying" Chrome and its search apps to Android in a move similar to when Microsoft was forced to stop bundling Internet Explorer with Windows.

The European Commission said it is up to Google to decide how to comply with the July ruling and that the regulator will closely monitor the changes.

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

What this will ultimately mean is that we will likely see device makers picking and choosing the apps that will be bundled with their devices, with users forced to download the remaining apps separately. But European regulators successfully argued that Google's practices gave it an unfair advantage against competitors.

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