Android, for the most part, is free to use, which is one of the many reasons why the platform is so popular and has been adopted by various handset makers around the world. However it seems that over in Europe, things are going to change as Google will start charging Android device makers a fee for using its apps.
This comes on the heels of a ruling made in July by the European Commission, where they fined Google $5 billion for antitrust violations with regards to “tying” Chrome and search apps to Android. It made sense for Google to do so since they would obviously want users to use their services, but it seems that this was not looked upon favorably.
The end result is that Google will now charge Android device makers if they want to bundle Google’s apps on their phones. It will also see Google unbundle Chrome from Android, meaning that if device makers wish to omit Chrome in favor of their own browser, they’ll be able to do so. However if they wish to bundle other Google Apps like Gmail, the Play Store, YouTube, and so on, those will be charged under a licensing agreement.
These changes are actually huge because as The Verge points out, in the past Google required companies that used the Play Store to only build devices that featured the Play Store. However this new situation means that companies can choose to build phones with the Play Store, and at the same time use the same device but have it run on a forked version of Android (like Amazon’s Fire OS) in Europe.
We imagine that this will help with variety, although we’re not sure if Android needs to be fragmentized even further.
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