Google Relaxes Its Iron Grip on Android

Google Relaxes Its Iron Grip on Android
Device-makers will be able to create their own versions of Android and choose which Google apps to include.

(CCM) — Google is abandoning the restrictions it imposed on Android device-makers which prevented them from offering products powered by different versions of Android, in the European Economic Area (EEA). It is also dropping the requirement that device makers pre-install its Search app and Chrome browser if they pre-install other Google apps such as YouTube or Google Maps.

The move comes after the European Commission fined the company $4.9 billion for "illegally cementing its dominant position" in the search market by imposing the restrictions.

The result of the restrictions has been that modified or derivative versions of Android, such as Amazon's Fire OS, have not been as successful as they might otherwise have been, according to the EU's competition commissioner.

But Google has said that it will have to impose a new licensing fee on manufacturers as a consequence of the ending of its restrictions. "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," Hiroshi Lockheimer, a Google senior vice president explained in a blog post.

The company has not yet announced how much the new licensing fee will be, or what the likely impact on retail prices will be. The Android restrictions will remain in place in the U.S. and the rest of the world outside the EEA for the moment.

Image: © Asif Islam -