Following a European Commission ruling earlier in the year that Google had exploited Android for "very serious illegal behavior" and used its mobile operating system "as a vehicle to cement its dominance as a search engine", the company was hit with a record €4.34 billion ($5 billion) fine. Google Search and Chrome will now be licensed (for free) as a separate and optional package. Android will remain free and open source.
First, we're updating the compatibility agreements with mobile device makers that set out how Android is used to develop smartphones and tablets.
Until now, Google has only allowed phone vendors to ship the Play Store app with their phones only if they abide by strict rules.
Since the revenue from including Search and Chrome helped fund development for Android, the exclusion of those two apps means that Google will now be charging a licensing fee for the Google app suite (which includes the Play Store and other Google services that define most Android devices).
The result, critics said, has given Google vast staying power and a massive core audience whose personal data Google uses to maintain its dominant position in online advertising.
In an official blog post by Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior Vice President of Platforms & Ecosystems, the company has outlined their plan to comply with the EC.
For Google, the change is a major shift for its mobile business. If a company in the EEA wants to make Android devices with Google apps, sans Search and Chrome, it will now have to pay for the privilege.
This requirement is now not only gone, but OEMs will have to pay Google a premium to use the services, which will (hopefully) appease European regulators who accused Google of antitrust violations.
European Union antitrust enforcers in their July decision said Google's anti-competitive behavior, which dated to 2011, included forcing smartphone makers to pre-install Google Search and its Chrome browser together with its Google Play app store on their Android devices. The side-effect of free apps is it's hard for alternatives to compete.