Google will charge phone makers to use Android apps in Europe

In response to a fine from the European Union, the search giant shakes up its business model.

Richard Nieva
Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
2 min read

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. 

Claudia Cruz/CNET

Google will stop bundling together its suite of Android mobile apps in Europe, in response to a $5 billion fine by the European Union in July. 

The search giant on Tuesday said it will offer a paid license for phone and tablet manufacturers in Europe that want to include its Google Play app store, Maps, Gmail and Google-owned YouTube. Another license will let phone makers include Google's search engine and Chrome browser. 

Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google's head of Android, said the company would begin to offer the licenses Oct. 26, but he didn't say what the pricing would be.

"Since the preinstallation 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," Lockheimer wrote in a blog post, referring to the European Economic Area. "Android will remain free and open source."

The news comes after a record antitrust fine from the European Commission earlier this summer, which claimed Google's business practices around the Android mobile operating system hurt competition in the industry. Google last week filed an appeal with the General Court of the European Union.

For Google, the change is a major shift for its mobile business. The idea was that by offering Android for free, the company could spread the use of its services, like search and web browsing. Alphabet, Google's parent company, makes almost 90 percent of its $100 billion in annual sales from search and advertising. 

The model made Android a huge success. First debuted 10 years ago, the operating system now powers almost nine out of every 10 smartphones shipped globally. 

The Smartest Stuff: Innovators are thinking up new ways to make you, and the things around you, smarter.

Special Reports: CNET's in-depth features in one place.