EU 'Protecting Consumers' By Forcing Them To Pay More For Android?

from the how's-that-work? dept

This was widely predicted this summer in the wake of the EU's massive $5 billion antitrust fine on Google concerning its practices with Android. As we noted at the time, the EU's antitrust focus seems to be much more directed at harming US companies rather than protecting EU consumers. Indeed, it is leading to situations where the antitrust efforts seem to be harming EU consumers, rather than helping them.

The latest is that Google is no longer offering its app suite for free in Europe.

Google’s licensing terms are changing in Europe later this month on account of a European Commission ruling that barred the company from requiring phone manufacturers to bundle Chrome and search with the rest of its suite of apps. In public statements, Google has been cagey about exactly how the new licensing fees will be structured, but documents reveal the deal with EU manufacturers will be rated by country and pixel density.

EU countries are divided into three tiers, with the highest fees coming in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands. In those countries, a device with a pixel density higher than 500 ppi would have to pay a $40 fee to license Google’s suite of apps, according to pricing documents. 400 to 500ppi devices would pay a $20 fee, while devices under 400 ppi would pay only $10. In some countries, for lower-end phones, the fee can be as little as $2.50 per device.

What is not at all clear is how this helps... anyone (well, other than the EU Commission who wants its $5 billion). At best, I guess you can argue that this "opens up" some sort of market for third party apps -- though those are already available to users to download and install pretty easily.

While I recognize that -- as many Europeans are quick to tell me -- EU regulations are much less focused on consumer welfare as a metric (and much more focused on beating up on big companies), I'm curious as to how this makes for good public policy. It provides a more expensive and less useful consumer experience while doing little to encourage any actual competition. Why is that a good thing?

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: android, antitrust, competition, consumer benefit, eu
Companies: google


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 4:14am

    And that can circumvented by using a VPN to make it look you are outside of Europe, so you can still download for free.

    And this does not break any laws in either the US, or any EU country.

    Circumventing region restrictions with a VPN or proxy does not break any US or EU laws.

    When I go on road trips to Mexico, or Canada, I have my phone connect to the VPN on my home work, so I can still get IHeart. Using my home VPN to bypass region restrictions and make it look like I am coming from home computer, to get iHeart, Pandora, or the US Netflix library does not break any US, Canadian, or Mexican laws.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories
.

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.