Two days ago, Google unveiled new licensing terms for Android phones and tablets in the European Union, following the EU’s record $5 billion fine. Device manufacturers can now sell phones with heavily-modified builds of Android while also producing normal Android devices with the Play Store, and some apps (like Chrome and Google Search) are now separate licenses. According to a report from The Verge, device makers are still strongly incentivized to ship Search and Chrome, or they could pay as much as $40 per device for access to the Play Store.
Allegedly, the licensing fees vary depending on country and device specifications. EU countries are divided into three tiers, with licenses in Sweden, Germany, the UK, Norway, and the Netherlands costing the most. If a phone with a pixel density higher than 500ppi is sold in those countries, the fee is $40. 400-500ppi devices will cost $20, and anything lower is $10. For lower-end phones in other countries, the fee could be as little as $2.50.
This pricing scheme would impact premium phones the most. For example, the Galaxy S9 (570ppi), Huawei Mate 20 Pro (538ppi), and LG V40 ThinQ (537ppi) would all incur the highest licensing fees. The report claims there is a completely separate fee structure for tablets, which is applied evenly across countries and maxes out at $20 per device.
Google is also incentivizing manufacturers to keep Chrome and Google Search installed. If Chrome is pre-installed on a phone and added to the home screen, Google will share ad revenue from web searches with the manufacturer.
It’s not clear at this point if the costs incurred from the new licensing fees will be passed onto consumers in any meaningful way. The new terms only apply to devices launched after October 29, so it’s not as if every phone in the EU will suddenly shoot up in price by $5-40. Other browser and search providers, like Microsoft, might offer to pay the fees for a chance to replace Chrome and/or Google Search on popular devices.