Sat | Nov 17, 2018

Google to charge for apps on Android phones in Europe

Published:Wednesday | October 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
In this Wednesday, August 8, 2018 photo, a mobile phone displays a user's travels in New York. Google Inc plans to start charging smartphone makers to pre-install apps like Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps.

Google plans to start charging smartphone makers to pre-install apps like Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps on Android handsets sold in Europe, a response to a record US$5-billion antitrust fine imposed by the European Union.

The American tech company's announcement Tuesday is a change from its previous business model of letting manufacturers install Google's suite of popular mobile apps for free on phones running its Android operating system.

Device makers will also now be able to install rival modified, or 'forked', versions of Android, the most widely used mobile operating system.

The company is taking the measures to comply with the July ruling by EU authorities that found that Google allegedly abused the dominance of Android to stifle competitors.

Google is introducing the changes at the end of October to meet a deadline set out in the European Commission's decision, which it is appealing in a process that could take years.

EU regulators decided that it was unfair for Google to force smartphone makers that used Android to also install its apps. The company argued that giving away its open-source operating system resulted in cheaper phones and more competition with chief rival Apple.

Google said in a blog post that it had to start charging to make up for lost revenue as a result of the EU enforcement measures.

"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 (European Economic Area)," Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google's senior vice-president for platforms and ecosystem, wrote in the post.

The EEA includes the European Union's member countries, which now number 28, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

AP