Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Wayne Curry

Google imposes Android app fees after huge Euro antitrust ruling

Google imposes Android app fees after huge Euro antitrust ruling

This rule really helped Google keep an iron grip over the Android OEMs, because it stopped them from even experimenting outside of the Google ecosystem.

Last week, Google appealed the EU's biggest ever anti-trust fine, saying that Android had "created more choice, not less".

In making their decision, antitrust officials in Europe had said that Google's practice of tying the apps together could harm competition by giving Google a built-in advantage over new apps struggling to attract an audience. Everyone knew a mega-fine was coming, and since Google basically mints money thanks in part to its lucrative ad business there was no question it would be able to absorb any financial penalty.

Google will sell licenses to Europe-based consumer-electronic companies for a package that includes the Google Play app store, Gmail YouTube and Google Maps. Android itself will remain free, as will Chrome as it is bundled with the Google Search app, but everything else will be chargeable. Users can install PWAs from the Chrome menu and see their installs appear in the Windows 10 Start Menu as any other Microosft Store or 3rd party application would as well supporting other Windows 10 settings like pinning the app to the taskbar or web notifications appearing in the Action Center.

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Google has been banging the drum for Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) for some time, initially seeing the tech as a way of improving the user experience of web apps before suggesting it could present a real alternative to native desktop applications.

Google says it will also unbundle Search and Chrome from the rest of the Google apps. We've always wished the app had a beta channel on the Play Store and that those tests would be accomplished through it.

"Using Android", reports the NYT, "has allowed companies like Samsung to compete against Apple's iPhone without having to make their own software". Device-makers are yet to comment on the changes, though the fear will undoubtedly be that licensing fees - the costs of which have not been disclosed at this stage - will be passed through to buyers themselves. So forking Android is still really hard, but at least OEMs can try now, and, if they fail, they can still go back to Google. That's about to change: Google will now charge a licensing fee from phone makers for the European market, in order to comply with the European Union's ruling regarding monopoly.

Google will offer new commercial agreements to partners for the non-exclusive pre-installation and placement of Google Search and Chrome.

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