Google offers solutions to avoid more EU Android fines

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If competing apps come pre-installed on an Android phone, they could theoretically edge their way into Google's space.

Google is preparing for a major shift to its business model in response to a record-breaking European Union fine this summer over the rules that Google binds Android handset makers to if they want access to the OS - rules that include requiring those handset manufacturers to set Google's own search and web browsers as the default offerings.

On top of the new app fees, Lockheimer said that phone vendors are also free to distribute unofficial forks of the Android OS and that they can also skip installing the Search and Chrome apps, which until now have been deal-breakers.

Mobile industry executives have generally thought that Europeans have little interest in devices without Google apps. The Play Store app grants access to the official Google Play Store where most of the millions of Android apps are hosted.

Back in July, the European Commission ordered Google to stop illegally tying the Play Store, Chrome, and other apps to the Android operating system.

In a blog post, Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior Vice President, Platforms & Ecosystems for Google, has revealed how they will comply with the EU's directions. Last time we reported on the situation, Google had been fined $5 billion for antitrust violations.

These new rules will take effect on October 29. That means devices can be sold in the region with Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Play, and so on, but no Google Search app and Chrome. The EC's stipulation that companies were being hindered by their inability to ship devices with forked versions of Android is of dubious merit, and now there's a very real possibility that Google-sanctioned devices - a vast majority of Androids sold in the EEA - will cost more when they hit store shelves. He then goes on to list a number of changes Google will make in order to comply with the ruling while waiting for the appeal to be heard. The company has not specified the amount of the licensing fees.

"The big challenge for phone-makers is to try to replicate the success that Apple has had with monetising its devices after they have been bought, which it has done by selling services such as iCloud storage and Apple Music".

The Android operating itself will remain free and open source.

New commercial agreements will also be supported for "non-exclusive pre-installation and placement" of both the Search app and Chrome. But European regulators successfully argued that Google's practices gave it an unfair advantage against competitors.

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