Google will reportedly charge European phone makers as much as $40 per phone to add popular apps like Gmail and Maps

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
  • Google will ask for $US40 per device in “licensing fees” from Android manufacturers that want their phones to include Google’s app bundle, the Verge reports.
  • The fee will differ by country and device, and will cover Google’s Play Store, as well as Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps.
  • This is one of the many changes Google is making after it was hit with a $US5 billion fine for forcing manufacturers that wanted access to the Google Play Store to exclusively install Google apps.

With a $US5 billion antitrust fine looming overhead, we now know how much Google thinks its popular apps are worth, and what it wants Android manufacturers to pay for access to them.

Google has put a price tag of $US40 on its app bundle, the Verge reports. This isn’t a cost that you yourself would have to cough up – it’s a “licensing fee” that Google will charge European-based phone makers if they want their devices to run Gmail, Maps, YouTube, and Google Play, Google’s app store.

The introduction of such a fee follows an antitrust ruling earlier this year that found Google had regularly abused its dominance over the smartphone market. Google has always offered a paired-down version of the Android mobile operating system free of charge. But to get access to Google’s popular Play store, the company required manufacturers to install Google’s bundle, which included the Chrome browser and Google Search. Antitrust regulators in Europe fined Google $US5 billion for its illegal practices.

The licensing fees that Google will charge for its apps will vary depending on country and device, but will go as high as $US40 per device, the Verge reports. According to documents that the publication obtained, EU countries are divided into three tiers to determine how much they should pay (the tier with the highest fees consists of the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands). Fees are then reportedly broken down even further based on each device’s pixel density – its resolution and display quality, essentially.

However, the Verge reports that phone manufacturers may be able to escape some – or all – of these costs if they choose to make Google’s Chrome web browser and Search engine their device defaults. In theory, separating Search and Chrome from the rest of the Google app bundle will let manufacturers sign deals with other search and browser providers. But Google’s deal to cover licensing fees may be too sweet to pass up, given the widespread use of Gmail, Maps, YouTube, and all the other apps consumers want.

These major changes to Google’s relationship with European-based phone manufacturers will go into effect October 29.

Here’s a breakdown of all the changes Google is making:

  • Phone makers that want to run Android on their devices will no longer be forced to exclusively install a bundle of Google apps (Chrome, Search) in order to access Google’s Play Store, the most popular app store for Android
  • The downside is that Google will now charge phone makers licenses for a package of its apps, including the Play Store, Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps. It will charge separate licenses for Search and Chrome
  • This means phone makers can choose to preinstall apps from Google as well as its competitors
  • Phone makers are also free to create non-compatible “forked” versions of Android and still have access to Google apps – previously, this was not allowed
  • You can read Google’s explanation here.

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