Google to stop bundling apps on smartphones in EU nations

Google said it will change the way it bundles its apps on Android phones, in response to a $5 billion antitrust fine it received from the European Union this summer.

Google on Tuesday answered a $5 billion antitrust fine from the EU by saying it will change the way it bundles apps on Android-based phones. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Google on Tuesday answered a $5 billion antitrust fine from the EU by saying it will change the way it bundles apps on Android-based phones. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

The tech giant said Tuesday it will also will start charging a licensing fee for those who want to install apps on Android phones in EU territories — like Gmail, Maps and YouTube. Google decided, as well, to stop restrictions on phone makers selling modified or “forked” versions of its mobile operating system.
The EU ruled in July Google must pay the fine because it required phone makers to pre-load their Android-based devices with a bundle of 11 apps if they wanted a license to use them — a provision it deemed anti-competitive.

Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google senior vice president of platforms and ecosystems, wrote in a blog post the company is working to comply with the ruling, pending an appeal.

RELATED YouTube back online after outage hits website, TV, music service
“These new licensing options will come into effect on Oct. 29, 2018, for all new smartphones and tablets launched in the EEA,” Lockeimer wrote. “We’ll be working closely with our Android partners in the coming weeks and months to transition to the new agreements. And of course, we remain deeply committed to continued innovation for the Android ecosystem.”

Google said it will begin offering separate licenses for Search and Chrome, as well as its suite of apps like Maps, Gmail and Docs. In the new agreement, phone makers will have to pay a fee if they want those apps, but the amount has not been settled, CNBC reported.

Google does not make money from Android, but does receive advertising through search, as well as Chrome, Maps and Gmail. Ads connected with those apps and usage data is collected from users to better target ads across Google platforms.

RELATED Facebook removes 810 accounts, pages over ‘inauthentic’ behavior
“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),” Lockheimer wrote.

As of the second quarter of this year, Android is the smartphone industry’s undisputed giant with an 88 percent market share, according to Statista.

ByClyde Hughes