Google to charge smartphone makers for Google Play in Europe

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Google and the European Union have been battling it out for a while now.

For the first time in its history, Google will no longer force manufacturers to sign agreements related to pre-installing nearly all Google apps.

This requirement is now not only gone, but OEMs will have to pay Google a premium to use the services, which will (hopefully) appease European regulators who accused Google of antitrust violations. Google will also offer commercial licenses to European companies that wish to pre-install Google Search and the company's Chrome browser.

"Previously", CNBC notes, "Google tied together a suite of 11 different apps that phone makers would have to pre-install if they wanted to license its app store, Play". The company has always stood by the argument that manufacturers are not required to include Google apps. The EC's stipulation that companies were being hindered by their inability to ship devices with forked versions of Android is of dubious merit, and now there's a very real possibility that Google-sanctioned devices - a vast majority of Androids sold in the EEA - will cost more when they hit store shelves.

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Instead, Google will allow device manufacturers to pre-install the Google Play Store on a stand-alone basis, and offer the option to pre-install Google's other proprietary apps for an extra, unspecified fee.

Android, the paper goes on to note, is the most widely used mobile operating system in the world. In providing Android free to any device maker to use and modify, Google helped make the software available everywhere - in phones, tablets, cars and refrigerators. The lack of Google Search and Chrome on some devices in Europe aren't a big deal, since most people will just switch to Google Search anyway. Now, presumably, they have more freedom to try to do so. "Android will remain free and open source." writes Google's Hiroshi Lockheimer in a blog post.

Manufacturers taking on Google Play and other Google services such as Gmail, YouTube and maps, can also install the Google Search app and the Chrome browser free of charge.

Google has announced changes in how European smartphone and tablet makers can use Google's Android apps in response to the EU's $5 billion fine. If a company in the EEA wants to make Android devices with Google apps, sans Search and Chrome, it will now have to pay for the privilege.

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