Oct 17, 2018

Google to charge for Android apps in Europe

Photo: Google

Google said it plans to start charging device makers that want to offer its Play Store and other key Android apps in Europe.

Why it matters: The move follows a European Commission order that Google stop bundling its search engine and browser with its Android apps and store, a ruling Google is appealing, along with the accompanying $5 billion fine.

The big picture: In the past, Google offered all its software free, but if you wanted any of its components — say, YouTube or the Play Store — you had to take the full suite, including search, Chrome, the Play Store and a variety of other Google apps. That remains the situation everywhere else on Earth besides Europe (and China, where Google doesn't offer its apps and store).

The details: Google plans to make three big changes to Android licensing in Europe while it appeals the ruling. The changes are effective Oct. 29 for all new smartphones and tablets launched in the European Economic Area.

  1. It will lift a restriction that prevents those selling compatible Android devices from also offering non-compatible (forked) Android devices.
  2. Device makers will be able to offer Google's suite of Android apps without also bundling its search app and Chrome browser. It will separately license Chrome and Search, but only to those who pay for the other apps.
  3. It will charge an unspecified fee for the bundle of apps, including the Play Store.

The core Android operating system (sans Google apps, search and app store) will remain free and open source.

Our thought bubble: On its surface, the move reflects the economic reality that search is where Google makes its money on Android, which it has historically offered free of charge to device makers.

  • The move could create some incentive for hardware makers to create devices without Google's apps and store, although historically devices that have done so have not fared well, with the exception of China. Amazon's Kindle Fire line has been a rare success story, though Amazon also flopped pretty spectacularly with its Fire phone, which lacked Google's apps and store.
  • Google will still share revenue with hardware makers that do use its search and browser, paying for prominent position. In some cases the revenue might offset the fee for using Google apps, but in some cases it might not.
  • Others, such as Microsoft, might also be willing to pay to prominently offer their search instead of Google.

Other voices:

  • The Verge's Tom Warren: "Google’s new licensing fee for Android in Europe is a clear admission it’s not open source and free. You pay with your data, or you pay a license fee. ... Get ready for devices bundled with apps so device makers can get the license fee cost back."
  • Former Microsoft Office and Windows boss Steven Sinofsky: "This all sounds so familiar. I can’t quite put a finger on it …"

Go deeper

Trump touts press briefing "ratings" as U.S. coronavirus case surge

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

President Trump sent about a half-dozen tweets on Sunday touting the high television ratings that his coronavirus press briefings have received, selectively citing a New York Times article that compared them to "The Bachelor" and "Monday Night Football."

Why it matters: The president has been holding daily press briefings in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, but news outlets have struggled with how to cover them live — as Trump has repeatedly been found to spread misinformation and contradict public health officials.

World coronavirus updates: Total cases surge to over 700,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now than more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 32,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Saturday he would issue a "strong" travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 46 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 704,095 — Total deaths: 33,509 — Total recoveries: 148,824.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 132,637 — Total deaths: 2,351 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked" people
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reported 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reported almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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