European Union force Google to unbundle, license Android application suite to competitors

Yolanda Curtis
October 17, 2018

A 3D printed Android mascot Bugdroid is seen in front of a Google logo in this illustration taken July 9, 2017.

One major change being made is that companies that make Google Play devices will now be able to also make non-Google Play Android, also known as forked or AOSP (Android Open Source Project), devices.

Here's more from The New York Times about the backstory and what this all means: "By obligating handset makers to load the free apps along with the Android operating system, regulators said, Google had boxed out competitors". The European Commision claims Google's practice of pre-installing apps like Search and Chrome on Android make it hard for the competition.

Third, we will offer separate licenses to the Google Search app and to Chrome.

As a first step, Android OEMs will now be able to sell forked Android handsets in the European Union while still being able to sell vanilla Google Android handsets. The company has always stood by the argument that manufacturers are not required to include Google apps.

Android, the paper goes on to note, is the most widely used mobile operating system in the world. First, the company will allow manufacturers to build smartphones and tablets running a forked version of Android, while also selling normal devices with the Play Store. 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.

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. 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. If Google is charging OEMs to use its services, Google can't be accused of monopolizing Android.

The European Commission fined Google $5 billion due to what the commission considered antitrust violations due to the company requiring Google Search and Chrome to be installed on Android devices that use the Google app suite.

Writing in a blog post, Google's senior vice president of platforms and ecosystems, Hiroshi Lockheimer, reiterates that the company will be appealing against the EC's ruling, stressing its belief that "Android has created more choice, not less". Instead, they can license the Play Store, Chrome and search, and other mobile apps separately.

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