Google altering business model of Android to comply with European regulations

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Google Developers

  • The way OEMs ship Android on devices in Europe will be quite different going forward, as Google explains in a new blog post.
  • Google is revamping its requirements for pre-installed Google services on Android to comply with new regulations.
  • As of now, the changes will only affect Europe, and it’s not quite clear how it will affect the consumer-level experience.

Google published a blog post today explaining some important upcoming changes to the business model of Android when it comes to the European Economic Area (EEA). The changes are in response to a nearly $5 billion fine levied at Google by the European Commission.

The most important change Google announced today will be new fees OEMs will have to pay to pre-install Google services on Android devices. This means the pre-installation and priority status of Android applications like Google Search, Gmail, Google Maps, the Google Play Store, etc., will no longer be required.

Although Google has always allowed OEMs to pre-install other competitive services on Android smartphones and tablets, OEMs could not release Android devices with the Google suite of apps and devices without Google apps in the EAA. OEMs had to pick between making Google-powered devices or not — no double-dipping.

This requirement is now not only gone, but OEMs will have to pay Google a premium to use the services, which will (hopefully) appease European regulators who accused Google of antitrust violations. If Google is charging OEMs to use its services, Google can’t be accused of monopolizing Android.

This will also hopefully appease Google competitors which complained the current business model stifled competition to such an extent other products couldn’t even hope to compete.

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In order to give OEMs a break, Google says it will offer “new commercial agreements to partners for the non-exclusive pre-installation and placement of Google Search and Chrome.” In other words, Google is likely going to incentivize OEMs purchasing the full suite of Google products, probably by offering discounts.

Google didn’t disclose how much these new Google packages will cost OEMs — nor how much Google will discount those prices for OEMs who go “all-in” on Google.

Google says this new policy will take effect October 29, 2018, for all new smartphones and tablets launched in the EEA.

You might be asking how this will affect you. As of right now, it’s not totally clear how this will affect consumers. It could be we’ll see European devices from major OEMs without Google products, something we’ve never seen before from companies like Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc. It could also mean these new charges for Google services will get passed to consumers, increasing the prices of Android devices in the EAA. There are a lot of potential outcomes.

These changes may not be permanent, though. Google is only instituting the new policies in response to the $5 billion fine — which it is appealing. Should the company’s appeal win the day — which could be years from now, if at all — Google would likely switch back to the current business model globally.

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