Google tweaks Android licensing terms in Europe to allow Google app unbundling — for a fee
Google is preparing for a major shift to its business model in response to a record-breaking EU 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.
Under updated "compatibility agreements", he writes that mobile device makers will be able to build and sell Android devices intended for the European Economic Area (EEA) both with and without Google mobile apps preloaded — something Google’s same ‘compatibility’ contracts restricted them from doing before, when it was strictly either/or (either you made Android forks, or you made Android devices with Google apps — not both).
Now, in response to the EU ruling, Google is saying it will shift for the first time away from giving away its Android OS for free to get it onto as many devices as possible. Google will now charge a licensing fee for Android device makers that want to deliver handsets pre-installed with apps like Gmail and YouTube within the EU. In another major change, per CNBC, Google will also end restrictions on phone makers selling forked versions of Android.
Google also appears to be splitting out Google Search and Chrome from the rest of the Google apps in its mobile suite (which traditionally means stuff like YouTube, the Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps, although Lockheimer’s blog post does not make it clear which exact apps he’s talking about) — letting OEMs selectively unbundle some Google apps, albeit potentially for a fee, depending on the apps in question.