Google to start charging phone makers for app store in Europe

Google to start charging phone makers for app store in Europe
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Google is set to start charging phone makers to use its Google Play app store and it will also allow them to use rivals of its Android mobile operating system, as a part steps to comply with a European Union antitrust order.

The company is still appealing the EU’s original antitrust order from July, which ruled that Google must stop forcing phone makers it works with to bundle its apps. The EU also fined Google $5 billion in the ruling.

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Despite the appeal, Google is changing some of its practices to comply with the ruling in the meantime.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Google senior vice president of platforms and ecosystems Hiroshi Lockheimer explained that in addition to charging a licensing fee for its app store and not blocking competing operating systems, it would also not bundle its Chrome browser and search in the same download.

Lockheimer said that the licensing fees would help curb financial losses Google will take as a result of complying with the ruling.

“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,” he said.

Google is also in the process of dealing with a separate anticompetitive ruling against it by the EU over its shopping comparison tool.

The company has replied several reports to the EU, which the body’s competition chief said has shown that Google is progressing.

“We had another compliance report ... and we see improvements in numbers but we are still following it very, very closely and have taken no decision yet,” Margrethe Vestager said in October.

The European Union ruled earlier in the year that Google placing its shopping comparison tool at the top its search results gave it an unfair competitive advantage of other similar tools created by companies outside of Google.