GOOGLE IS to begin charging its OEM partners to preload its core apps on handsets, as it battles to appease EU regulators.
The charge will apply to any new handset running Android and launching after 29 October this year.
The actual charge will vary according to country and handset size and could be as low as $2.50, according to documents seen by The Verge, with Google estimating an average of $20 going up as high as $40.
Under the new rules, OEMs will be able to avoid the charges if they give the Google App and Chrome browser prominent placement, which would, in turn, give the manufacturer a cut of ad revenue.
The same rules could see other manufacturers dive in to take that prominent place - the obvious example being Microsoft who has had its chestburster strategy prepared and ready to take over as soon as an OEM is ready for a "Microsoft Android" phone.
The European Commission fined Google over four billion Euros earlier in the year and warned that unless it stopped what was deemed as uncompetitive practices, further sanctions would be issued.
It is thought that this new arrangement will put an end to Google's stranglehold on its own operating system which the EU ruled was uncompetitive and illegal.
Any decision to switch away from default Google apps will be a huge wrench for any major OEM and may incur the wrath of the Android faithful. However, it's worth pointing out that users will be able to download their choice of default app, just as they can now - it's only the 'out of the box' settings that may change.
What we may see, however, is a smaller manufacturer taking the initiative and we could even find ourselves with a 'fork' of Android based on Microsoft's apps and launcher, not completely dissimilar to Fire OS, used by Amazon for its Fire tablet. μ
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