Wednesday, 17 October 2018 09:24

Google to charge Android device makers for using apps in EU

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Google to charge Android device makers for using apps in EU Pixabay

Google has announced changes to the way it licences its Android mobile operating system as it awaits the outcome of an appeal against a €4.3 billion (US$5 billion) fine levied on it by the European Union in July, for allegedly breaching anti-trust rules over the system.

The Google mobile application suite will no longer be tied to the search app or the Chrome browser, according to a statement from Hiroshi Lockheimer, senior vice-president for Platforms and Ecosystems at Google.

Separate licences for these will be sold by Google in the event that a manufacturer wishes to use these apps in the European Economic Area.

Android partners will also be able to build non-compatible or forked smartphones or tablets for the EEA.

At the time the fine was imposed, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: "Our case is about three types of restrictions that Google has imposed on Android device manufacturers and network operators to ensure that traffic on Android devices goes to the Google search engine.

google android

"In this way, Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits.

"They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere. This is illegal under EU anti-trust rules."

In its appeal, the company cited arguments advanced by chief executive Sundar Pichai in a blog post when the fine was levied.

Lockheimer said the new licensing arrangements would take effect from 29 October.

"We’ll also offer new commercial agreements to partners for the non-exclusive pre-installation and placement of Google Search and Chrome. As before, competing apps may be pre-installed alongside ours," he added.

Graphic: courtesy European Union

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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