Google Responds to EU Fines by Bundling Apps Differently

Google responded to the European Union’s $5 billion antitrust ruling in July by changing how it bundles its apps on Android phones. The company will also begin charging a licensing fee for phone makers that would like to pre-install apps such as Gmail, Maps, and YouTube in the EU, and even ended restrictions on phone makers that sell modified versions of the mobile operating system.

Google previously incorporated a group of eleven different apps that phone makers would typically desire to pre-install if they wanted to license its app store, Play. However, the EU declared that this bundling was anti-competitive – meaning it would push consumers more towards Google’s search engine and weaken rival app makers. CNBC notes that the EU specifically called for Google to disconnect Chrome and Search from Play.

Google said in a blog post on Tuesday to the EU in response that it will begin offering a separate licenses for both Search and Chrome. In addition the company will also add licenses for its suite of apps including Maps, Gmail and Docs. In result, phone makers that want to pre-install those specific apps will need to pay a fee, though the fee amount is not yet specified.

Google claims the new licensing fees will make up for the revenue lost through compliance efforts that it normally uses to fund the development of Android, which Google offers as a free, open source platform. While those apps will have a fee, Search and Chrome will not.

While Google doesn’t generate money from Android directly, it does make money through Search, Chrome, Maps and Gmail by serving ads and using data it collects to initiate better ads across its platforms. “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],” wrote Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s vice president of platforms.

Google’s Android incorporates more than 80 percent of the world’s smartphones. The new changes will take place on October 29 and will only affect phones for the EEA, which consists of 28 EU countries, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

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