Google makes Play Store optional in Europe, will charge license fee
A couple months ago, the European Commission fined Google more than €4.3 billion for forcing phone makers adopting its Android OS along with a suite apps like Gmail, Drive and YouTube to also pre-load the Play Store.
Today, the search giant has announced a major compliance measure in the wake of its penalty: it will no longer require OEMs to install the Play Store on devices being sold in the European Economic Area, enabling them to implement another app store or fork the OS, but it will also charge OEMs to license Google Play services and apps with separate, free licenses for the Chrome web browser and Google search. Importantly, competing browsers and search engines can be loaded onto hardware with or without Google’s apps.
The changes come into effect October 29.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s senior vice president of platforms and ecosystems, said that the new fee on its apps and services was necessary.
“Since the pre-installation of Google Search and Chrome together with out 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,” Lockheimer wrote on the company’s The Keyword blog. “Android will remain free and open source.”
Google is appealing the European Commission ruling.