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?