Google charges Android OEMs for Play Store licenses

Android logoUpdate:Google contacted Ars Technica, and said it does not charge licensing fees for Google Mobile Services.

Any Android sales pitch is always sure to mention that Google's OS is "free and open source." The reality is that while the core OS is open source, all of the Google-branded apps that Android relies on to be a useful, competitive operating system are not part of Android—and not open source. OEMs must license apps like the Play Store, Gmail, and Google Play Services from Google. And now The Guardian is reporting that, like most licensing arrangements, the Android Google Apps are going to cost OEMs.

The dollar amount stated by The Guardian is $75,000 for 100,000 devices, or 75¢ per device. The price undoubtedly depends on the number of licenses being ordered and which OEM is ordering them—Samsung and Motorola probably pay very little, while a smaller OEM that isn't as important probably pays more. Google has never officially stated if the Google Play apps have a cost associated with them, and any licensing deals done with OEMs always include a non-disclosure agreement. The official Google Play licensing instructions basically boil down to "E-mail us. We'll talk about it."

A measly 75¢ per unit won't be vastly improving Google's bottom line anytime soon, and it's still is a good deal for what the Google apps offer. For comparison, it's widely believed that Microsoft charges $15 for each Windows Phone license. A dollar amount as low as 75¢ suggests some kind of legal reasoning, like a patent or third-party licensing fee that Google is passing on to the OEMs (though Google's doesn't grant patent protection to OEMs). Still, Google is doing just a bit of double dipping (and more)—charging OEMs for the Play Store, charging developers $25 to sign up for the Play Store, taking a 30 percent cut of Play Store sales, and showing ads to users in Maps, Gmail, and Google searches, all while collecting data on everyone.

With control of the most-used operating system in the world, Google can do whatever it wants.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Android, Google, OSes

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