Google Android Software Is Not As Free Or Open-Source As You May Think

Charles Arthur and Samuel Gibbs | Business Insider | January 30, 2014

Some mobile and tablet manufacturers are being charged six-figure fees by third party testing facilities for a license to use Gmail, Google Play and other parts of Google's mobile services, the Guardian has learned.

The fees, which can range from $40,000 to $75,000, are part of a largely hidden production process for the hundreds of large and small manufacturers in the mobile device industry.

The Android mobile operating system is free for consumers and for manufacturers to install, but manufacturers need a licence to install Gmail, Google Maps and the Google Play store - collectively called Google Mobile Services (GMS).

Manufacturers can be refused a licence if they do not meet Google's requirements. Google does not charge for a GMS licence, but any company producing an Android device will need a certificate from an authorized testing facility in order to apply for the licence. That often incurs fees.