In July, the European Commission fined Google a whopping $5 billion for antitrust violations and for forcing Android OEMs to bundle its own suite of Google apps with Android. In response, Google has now decided to charge OEMs a licensing fee for its suite fo Android apps and services. The company has also appealed against the European Commission’s ruling stating it cannot split Android, Chrome, and its Search app.
This does not mean that Google is charging OEMs for Android though. The AOSP flavor of Android — the one without Google’s suite of apps and services like the Play Store (GMS) — continues to be free and OEMs are free to develop and launch devices without GMS in the European Economic Area (EEA).
Google will charge OEMs for devices that they launch in the EEA with its Google mobile application suite. The terms of licensing and the fees involved are confidential and its unlikely to be ever revealed by Google or any other OEM. This mobile application suite will not include the Google Search app or Chrome which means OEMs have the option of releasing Android devices without Chrome and Google Search app. They can, however, add these apps to their devices for free via an add-on agreement on top of the GMS agreement.
This is perhaps the first time that Google is allowing OEMs to launch devices with its entire suite of apps and services barring Google Chrome and Google Search. Both these apps help Google collect tons of data about its users and generate billions in revenue so it is interesting to see Google offer this option to Android OEMs. It will be interesting to see if Android OEMs take this opportunity to release devices with other browsers and search app.
The new licensing options will come into effect on October 29, 2018, for all new smartphones and tablets launched in the EEA.