Google Changes Android Licensing Terms In Europe Affecting Search

Google announced changes to its licensing model in Europe for its Android mobile operating system. The changes comply with a major European antitrust ruling handed down in summer 2018. The changes will take place October 29, for all new smartphones and tablets.

Antitrust regulators hit Google with a $5 billion fine, suggesting the company abused its dominance in the marketplace by requiring manufacturers to preinstall Google apps to license its Play App Store.

Google filed an appeal last week, but said in the meantime it would make changes on how it licenses Android in Europe.

In response to the European Commission’s competition decision against Android, the company will introduce a new paid licensing agreement for smartphones and tablets shipped into the European Economic Area (EEA). It allows device manufacturers to license the Google mobile application suite separately from the Google Search App or the Chrome browser.

The mobile application suite includes Play Store, Gmail, YouTube, Maps and more. Google will require a license fee if the apps are pre-installed on devices that ship to the EEA.

The pre-installation of Google Search and Chrome, combined with other apps, helped Google fund the development and free distribution of Android.

“Android partners wishing to distribute Google apps may also build non-compatible, or forked, smartphones and tablets for the European Economic Area,” Hiroshi Lockheimer, senior vice president of platforms and ecosystem at Google, wrote in a blog post.

Lockheimer wrote that Google also will offer separate licenses to the Google Search app and to Chrome, and offer new commercial agreements to partners for the non-exclusive pre-installation and placement of Google Search and Chrome.

Android will remain an open-source operating system and device makers will be allowed to change the software to meet their specifications. They also can choose to pre-install or not to pre-install the software.

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