Google to charge smartphone makers for Google Play in Europe

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The latest Chrome upgrade comes with the rare collaborative support between Google's browser and Microsoft's Windows 10 that allows the browser to install PWA's as regular applications on Windows 10.

The changes are in response to a almost $5 billion fine levied at Google by the European Commission. Since they will stop bundling these apps with Android, the company will start charging a licensing fee to make up for it. The Commission found that Google search accounted for 95 percent of search volume on Android devices in 2016, and that users do not download competing apps enough to offset a "status quo bias" that gives Google's preinstalled apps a commercial advantage.

The European Commission announced the penalty in July, after ruling that the USA company had been using Android to illegally "cement its dominant position" in search.

Google will sell licenses to Europe-based consumer-electronic companies for a package that includes the Google Play app store, Gmail YouTube and Google Maps.

In a Tuesday blog post, senior veep for platforms and ecosystems Hiroshi Lockheimer confirmed: "We have now informed the European Commission of the changes we will make while the appeal is pending".

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Google's Android operating system controls more than 80 per cent of the world's mobile market share. But the EC took umbrage with such a setup, decided Google was being anticompetitive and, after some legal wrangling, it hit the company with a fine to the tune of £3.8bn. Google is appealing the ruling but said it is complying in the meantime with the new licensing scheme for devices launched after October 29 in the European Economic Area, which comprises the 28 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The European Commission said it is up to Google to decide how to comply with the July ruling and that the regulator will closely monitor the changes.

"The big challenge for phone-makers is to try to replicate the success that Apple has had with monetising its devices after they have been bought, which it has done by selling services such as iCloud storage and Apple Music".

May 2014 - Joaquin Almunia, European Competition Commissioner at that time, says feedback from complainants will be crucial to determining whether he accepts Google's concessions. The licensing fees aren't available for each app alone but for the Google mobile application suite as a whole, which includes all the Google apps, except the Chrome and Search apps, which will be offered under separate licensing fees. To be clear, nothing about Android itself is changing - it will remain completely free to use.