Google has announced that it is changing the way its suite of applications (G Suite) is distributed through Android in Europe.
The news came after one a fine of 5 billions dollars in Alphabet by the EU anti-trust regulators, although it is already in the process of appealing to a court of appeal.
The story so far
In May of 2015, the European Commission (EC) formally accused Google of using its dominance in search results after a four-year investigation into the matter. At the same time, the European Commission has revealed that it is launching a new Android investigation looking at how it is forcing smartphone and tablet makers to connect certain Google services, such as Gmail, Google Search and Google Play to their Android devices.
Google has long argued that makers are free to do what they want with Android, which seems to be right, because Android is running an open source license. As we have seen, Amazon has used a special version of Android in Kindle Fire through which it defines its own default applications. However, this restricts Amazon's access to some native Google applications, such as YouTube.
In short, if a manufacturer wants to use Android and pre-install Google applications, he should use the entire suite. He can not choose some of these. If he wants to include Google Maps, Gmail, and YouTube, for example, it should include Google Play, Chrome, and Google Search by default. This is something Europe regards as anti-competitive.
So Google finally revealed its response to Europe's complaints: a new licensing model for manufacturers wishing to distribute phones and tablets in the European Economic Area (EEA) with their applications installed.
From 29 October 2018, Google said it would allow manufacturers to distribute Google applications to special versions of Android in the EEA.
"We are updating compatibility agreements with mobile device manufacturers that define how Android is used to develop smartphones and tablets," said Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google's senior vice president for platforms and ecosystems. publishing on the blog of the company.
Android partners who want to distribute Google apps can also create incompatible or forked smartphones and tablets for the European Economic Area.
However, this will cost.
Google will now separate Google Search and Chrome from the rest of the suite of applications, such as Maps, YouTube, Gmail and the Google Play Store, and will offer separate licenses for each "package" it charges. However, it seems that manufacturers who sign up to pre-install Google services, such as Play, Gmail, Maps and YouTube, will be able to install Google Search and Chrome for free. (Say thank you!).
This completely changes how Android will be distributed in Europe, as it gives manufacturers more choices in the default apps they install. For example, we can see Bing and Firefox as the default search engine and browser respectively.
Probably the model announced by Google has to do with the revenue it will lose from Google Search and Chrome.
"As the pre-installation of Google Search and Chrome, along with our other applications, helped fund the development and free distribution of Android, we will introduce a new paid licensing agreement for smartphones and tablets shipped to the EEA." , says Lockheimer.