October 16, 2018
Paul MacDonnell, Executive Director, Global Digital Foundation
Google has responded to the European Commission’s demands that it unbundle the suite of apps it offers to Europe’s phone manufacturers and network providers. The company proposes to offer Google Search and its Chrome browser under a separate non-exclusive license agreement. It proposes offering its remaining mobile apps for free as a bundle under what it calls an EMADA, or European Mobile Application Distribution Agreement. Finally the company wishes to negotiate agreements with phone manufacturers and network providers to preinstall Google apps on smartphones in incentivised and non-exclusive arrangements that will allow them to strike deals with providers of competing services.
Last July the Commission fined Google €4.34 bn for imposing conditions on mobile phone manufacturers who wished to install its apps in Europe. These included a requirement to install a full suite of Google apps and an agreement not to fragment the Android mobile operating system. The Commission made its finding despite Google’s argument that phone manufacturers are free to install competing apps and that its efforts to prevent forking of the Android operating system support, rather than restrict, Europe’s estimated one-third share of the global smartphone app market.
The company’s proposals follow months of discussion with the European Commission and, according to Google, should meet the Commission’s immediate demands, pending the company’s appeal to the European Court of Justice against the Commission’s July finding.
Google’s response would appear to go a long way towards addressing the Commissions immediate concerns about Android.