Following its record antitrust fine of $5 billion after the European Commission (EC) found Google had illegally forced Android phone manufacturers to use its apps and services, Google has announced further changes for its Android mobile operating system.
Last October the EC accused Google of forcing Android phone makers to tie its apps and services, specifically Chrome and Google Search, as the default browsers. This, the EC found was unfairly blocking competitors from reaching consumers.
The ruling led to Google changing the way it licenses the Google mobile application suite and now the tech giant is making further changes related to browser and search engine choices.
In a blog Google announced it would allow new and existing Android phone owners in Europe to choose from a variety of web browsers and search engines for their devices as their default apps in the coming months.
Although unclear at present, it is likely Google’s prompt to users will appear during the phone setup phase.
Now we will also do more to ensure that Android phone owners know about the wide choice of browsers and search engines available to download to their phones. This will involve asking users of existing and new Android devices in Europe which browser and search apps they would like to use.- Google
This latest move by Google comes after the company revealed its new paid licensing agreements for Google apps on third-party Android smartphones.
While only applying to the European zone, the licence requires phone makers to obtain separate, paid licenses if they want to include such apps as Play Store, Maps, Gmail and YouTube without Chrome and Search.
This means smartphone makers in Europe can install any app they want to serve as alternatives to Google apps without being forced to bundle Google Search and Chrome.
Likewise, after being hit by a fine of $2.7 billion back in 2017 for abusing the way it prioritised its own shopping results on searches, Google announced major changes. This will include ‘direct links to comparison shopping sites, alongside specific product offers from merchants.’
The company said these changes are part of an ongoing campaign by the company to show the European Union it has a ‘continued commitment to operating in an open and principled way.’