Should Google comply with the EC’s competition decision?

The tech giant will charge OEMs up to US$40 per device, which will make Android devices more expensive in the region and may also hurt innovation.
24 October 2018

Google’s Sundar Pichai seems to have decided to comply with the EU’s anticomeptition decision. Source: Getty Images for WIRED25 /AFP

Google has recently announced that it has decided to (temporarily) comply with the European Commission’s (EC) decision against Android alleging that it was in breach of the region’s anti-competition law.

And while the tech giant doesn’t agree with the EC’s decision and has filed an appeal at the General Court of the European Union, here is what the company is doing while it waits for a decision:

Google will be updating its compatibility agreements with mobile device makers that set out how Android is used to develop smartphones and tablets.

Going forward, Android partners wishing to distribute Google apps may also build non-compatible smartphones and tablets for the European Economic Area (EEA).

Device manufacturers will also be able to license the Google mobile application suite separately from the Google Search App or the Chrome browser.

Since the pre-installation of Google Search and Chrome together with other apps helped the company fund the development and free distribution of Android, Google has decided to introduce a new paid licensing agreement for smartphones and tablets shipped into the EEA.

According to some experts, Android OEMs will now have to pay up to US$40 per handset for Google’s app. Local media suggest that there will be a three-tiered system under which the U.K, Sweden, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands will attract the highest fees.

Google will also offer separate licenses to the Google Search app and to Chrome and new commercial agreements to partners for the non-exclusive pre-installation and placement of Google Search and Chrome.

Google has said that it plans to start putting in place the new agreements at the end of this month — however, several experts are concerned that the European consumer will ultimately lose out.

Going forward, the EEA will have to pay more for its Android devices — which are not only in great demand by consumers but also by businesses looking to move up the digital maturity curve.

And although these are the some of the more immediate and apparent ways the EC’s decision will change Google and impact customers, the technology community is also worried that the hefty US$5 billion fine that Google was charged will signal to other companies that investing in innovation might bring other challenges.

At the end of the day, it seems as though it’s up to the European General Courts to decide the fate of Google, Android, and innovation in the region.