Google forced to drop pre-loaded apps on Android

Oct 19, 2018 | Mobile, Regulation, Search engine marketing

Google has announced that smartphone manufacturers will no longer have free access to its popular apps on Android, such as Chrome and Google Search, following an antitrust fine earlier this year.

The licensing fee charge for the Play Store and other Google apps follows a $5 billion fine handed to the technology giant by the European Commission for antitrust violations earlier this year.

Previously, all Android phones and tablets have all come pre-installed with Google’s search engine and Chrome browser, a move that European lawmakers deemed illegal. From 29 October, all new Android devices launched in Europe will be subject to the new licensing charges.

“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],” Google’s senior vice president of platforms and ecosystems Hiroshi Lockheimer said in a blog post. “Android will remain free and open source.”

The move means that than new phones will not include Chrome and Google search by default, which is good news for other browsers and search engines, which could now come pre-installed on Android phones instead of Chrome.

Private search engine DuckDuckGo could be among those to benefit, which currently represents only 0.18 per cent of the global search market.

More than 80% of the world’s smartphones run the Android operating system, and this is unlikely to change significantly as a result of Google’s new licensing system. However, it could mean there will be a significant drop in the usage of its apps.

If the licensing fees prove too burdensome for phone and tablet manufacturers, this way of distributing apps may become a trend that threatens Google’s monopoly of everything from email to maps.