In compliance with the EU regulations set up when Google was fined $5 Million in July, for breaching EU antitrust laws, Google has made major changes to its licensing policy. Last week, Google filed its appeal against the Commission’s decision at the General Court of the European Union. While the appeal is pending, they have now informed the European Commission of the changes made in their policy.
Google is splitting the license for its standard apps from Chrome and the official search app. This means that if a company wants to use some of Google apps (Gmail and YouTube for instance) but also use other competing apps (Bing for search and Firefox for browsing), they can do so in the European Economic Area (EEA), albeit with an associated cost.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior Vice President, Platforms & Ecosystems, mentioned in the Google blog, “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. He also points out that, “ Android will remain free and open source.”
Google will also offer separate licenses to the Google Search app and to Chrome. They will also provide commercial agreements to partners for the non-exclusive pre-installation and placement of Google Search and Chrome, although Google noted that pre-installed competition was already possible. Android vendors in the EEA are also allowed to make forked versions of Android while still distributing Google apps.
All the licensing changes will be effective for devices launched after October 29th. It is also likely that companies in Europe that would have to pay for Google apps, may pass the licensing fee to consumers in the form of higher device prices.
Lockheimer added that they will continue with their commitment to the Android ecosystem saying, “We’ll be working closely with our Android partners in the coming weeks and months to transition to the new agreements. And of course, we remain deeply committed to continued innovation for the Android ecosystem.”
Read the official announcement on the Google blog.