Android might not stay free thanks to massive fine

Google has warned that the €4.3-billion fine from the European Union may “upset the careful balance” the company has struck with Android.

In a statement, Google CEO Sundar Pichai suggested they may not be able to offer Android for free if the decision stands.

“So far, the Android business model has meant that we haven’t had to charge phone makers for our technology, or depend on a tightly-controlled distribution model,” said Pichai.

“If phone makers and mobile network operators couldn’t include our apps on their wide range of devices, it would upset the balance of the Android ecosystem.”

Pichai said that it made sense for Google to continue investing in Android, despite giving it away for free, because Google can offer phone makers the option of pre-loading a suite of popular Google apps – such as Search, Chrome, Play, Maps, and Gmail.

Some of the apps generate revenue for Google, and all of them help ensure the phone works out of the box.

Pichai argued that the free distribution of Android is efficient for phone manufacturers and operators, and of huge benefit for developers and consumers.

“Phone makers don’t have to include our services; and they’re also free to pre-install competing apps alongside ours. This means that we earn revenue only if our apps are installed, and if people choose to use our apps instead of the rival apps,” said Pichai.

“We’ve always agreed that with size comes responsibility. A healthy, thriving Android ecosystem is in everyone’s interest, and we’ve shown we’re willing to make changes,” said Pichai.

“Today’s decision rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less. We intend to appeal.”

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Android might not stay free thanks to massive fine