Originally Posted by murraypaul
They needed to create a viable alternative to iOS for mobile devices, or they risked being squeezed out of the mobile advertising market. It is all about the advertising, the other services just feed into that.
Also, they do make money from distributing the non-free portions of Android to smartphone manufactures.
But how would a small fee have stopped its growth? They could have started out charging a small fee for each handset with android sold, and then dropped the fee if sales weren't strong.
And what are the non-free portions of android that the OEMs put on their phones?