Google seems to have capitulated to the EU’s antitrust pressure that gave it a deadline of October 29 to address practices alleged to have been oppressive of competitors.
Google has always required smartphone makers seeking to pre-install Google’s app store to also add other Google apps, such as search and Chrome
Now, it will be ending the practice by allowing device manufacturers to pre-install the Google Play Store on a stand-alone basis. Other Google apps will be offered for an unspecified additional fee on an optional basis
The company announced this decision on Tuesday as a result of pressure from regulators that placed a $5 billion fine for practices it called ‘anticompetitive.’
Google is fighting the order but is working to meet its terms, because not doing so by the deadline could risk further penalties.
In making their decision, antitrust officials in Europe had said that Google’s practice of tying the apps together could harm competition by giving Google a built-in advantage over new apps struggling to attract an audience. Regulators said 95 percent of Android users around the world were using their device’s default search engine — Google Search — rather than choosing an alternative.
The result, critics said, has given Google immense staying power and a massive core audience whose personal data Google uses to maintain its dominant position in online advertising.
Google’s solution to the E.U. order puts more distance between its mobile app store, through which millions of Android users may discover and install new apps, and the many sister apps that help sustain Google’s deep relationships with customers.
‘We’ll be working closely with our Android partners in the coming weeks and months to transition to the new agreements,’ wrote Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s senior vice president of platforms, in a blog post. ‘And of course, we remain deeply committed to continued innovation for the Android ecosystem.’