Google will stop auto-bundling Chrome and Search with the Play Store on Android in the EEA
The European Commission (or EC) has decided that the way Google gets its own apps onto Android phones shipped into the European Economic Area (EEA) violates the commission's mandates for competition within a given industry. The EC have fined the company US$5 billion in penalties for this breach of its antitrust legislation.
Google will be appealing this decision, as it believes that the distribution of Android, with or without Google apps, promotes competition. However, it is also true that OEMs may need Google's licensing so that their customers can access Google apps, and, more importantly, the Google Play Store. Google has addressed this in the past by paying both manufacturers and mobile network carriers to pre-install Google Search and Google Chrome on new devices. Once these apps were present by default, these parties could be licensed for the Google Play Store.
Now, however, Google plans to charge these smartphone makers and sellers for the license in the EEA, rather than imposing Chrome and Search by default. Manufacturers and carriers who do not want to pay for these licenses can also now design their own version of Android, which is still free and open-source as an OS. They are known as non-Google-compatible or forked versions of Android.
This sounds like a positive move; however, many customers have become very accustomed to or pay for subscriptions to Google Apps such as Music, YouTube, Maps and the Play Store itself - not to mention the increasingly popular Assistant. Without them, phones in the EEA could become like locked phones with carrier bloatware without the option of uninstalling it and using alternatives from the Play Store instead. Then again, this may also be a positive step for those who do not like Google's increasingly pervasive control of every phone function and feature there is.