EU has fined Google $5 billion for bundling apps with Android. And the crazy thing is that I don’t think Google even notices.
I really don’t know how I feel about this. On the one hand, they really are the 1990’s Microsoft of the Cellphone Market, and having services be the default option is tantamount to being a monopoly.
On the other hand, they give away their stuff for free (but companies must take their programs). This is very much different from the other major platform, which has everything locked down, and hates the idea of anyone playing with any of it’s stuff in ways they didn’t specify.
By the way, if anyone is looking for non default options that are better than Google, Edge has a built in ad blocker, and the Microsoft Launcher is very efficient. Ironic.
Many of the new core android functionality (i.e. Assistant, Image Search from photos) can’t function w/o some form of a search engine integration and I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect Google to not bundle its search services in order to make sure everything can work.
I also don’t think it’s reasonable for Google to open up the API to all 3rd parties and wait for the integration to be built before rolling it for EU.
Allowing for easy replacement of the core browser seems reasonable, but Google’s search functionality will also need to be there for the other areas
That’s not what the EU is complaining about. They’re complaining about Google requiring the Search and Chrome apps to be pre-installed as a condition for licensing the Play Store (and other complaints not directly relevant here). It’s not about the services, and Google is free to use its own search inside Photos or Assistant.
I see - I agree that those 2 apps aren’t critical to be preinstalled for Android to function.
Is it illegal for Google to try to bundle it as part of app suite as mentioned though? To me this is mischievous but not illegal, since it’s ultimately the manufacturers who are agreeing to to do this and they are the ones who decide where to sell their devices, not Google.
I guess if Google offered just the Playstore app as a standalone but charged a higher fee since it’s not as subsidized this would bring it into EU compliance?
The EU says so. Ultimately it will be for the ECJ to decide, assuming Google appeals. The relevant statute is:
I’m not particularly familiar with the case law on the subject, though, so I’m in no position to opine on how robust the Commission’s stance is.
Also, to be clear, bundling as an app suite wouldn’t necessarily be illegal. It’s the inability to get the Play Store at all, without also getting Search and Chrome, that’s illegal. If you could just download the Play Store as an apk from Google, (and if Google didn’t penalise manufacturers for doing so) they’d probably be fine (on that complaint).
I mean it was determined that it was illegal for Microsoft to utilize their massive marketshare and bundle IE with Windows, and that was their own software suite. So it’s not a logical leap that Google forcing other people who are modifying Android to only bundle Chrome and Google Search would be seen as illegal.
Alphabet Inc’s profit for Q4 of 2017 seems to have been $6.8B, so almost wiping out a full quarter of profit will probably be noticed.
I think the nuance from MS is that it’s oossivle to have a working android OS w/o these apps.
What Google seems to be doing is forcing manufacturers to have Search and Chrome pre-installed if they want to License Google Play App Store.
Nothing is stopping those manufacturers from selling these smartphones w/ a different browser pre-installed w/ an EU specific App Store - or from the EU to develop an App Store solution that makes Google Play much less of a killer App.
This is what is done in China and they were able to successful create alternate App Stores, for example.
Edit: I also don’t think Google forced these apps to be the default, just pre-installed, so the manufacturers could still have other browsers,etc installed and made the default - so another difference with the MS suit.
They also have around $100 billion in cash reserves, so it’s still a slap on the wrist considering what Google managed to gain over the past decade.
Well, there is, but that’s a separate complaint.
Unless I’m reading this wrong…
Point 2: That is a seperate payment contract for Google, seperate from licensing - if the manufactuers don’t want it to give exclusivitiy, I think they can just reject it.
Point 3: Isn’t it possible to have a non-fork w/o Play (and Chrome/Search) installed?
If point 3 isn’t possible, then I think there is legitmacy here.
The argument is it’s abuse of Google’s dominant position. The Commission cites similar incentive payments by Intel, which were ruled illegal. Like I say, though, I’m not familiar with the case law so I don’t know the details and precisely where the illegality derives from.
Also bear in mind that this isn’t about the manufacturers. It’s about Google’s competitors in search and OS and the impact on consumers.
This is not as clear cut as you think though. It’s not just Google Play APK but also the Google services APK. Both of those APKs contain crucial APIs that a lot of apps rely on for various functionality, and thus not including those APKs means that many applications and games will not work even side loaded.
This is a fundamental issue and a big reason why Amazon stopped focusing on phones so much, because to support a lot of these applications they had to write emulation layers to be able to handle the Google play/services APIs (which are not specced out and are essentially black boxes).
So while google wants you to think it’s only the ability to download and purchase apps, in reality Google is forcing you to not allow a large amount of applications from being able to be run on your platform if you don’t license Google Play/Services, and thus require you to bundle Chrome and Search.
You seem to be describing a good valid reason for Google to want this to be bundled though - and would make EU compliance practically impossible w/o hobbling Android?
I guess they can still do it and force the manufacturers make that choice to be compliant though.
Like Microsoft, Google will make it seem like fixing the problem will be a huge, world-ending challenge that might destroy the fabric of space-time if they are forced to make changes.
Then they’ll quietly make the changes and nobody will notice and the world will keep spinning.
None of the reasons I specified proivde good reason why Chrome should be bundled, nor why Google search be the default system installed. You can have all the benefits of compatibility if you just have the Google Play store and Google services APKs bundled and default to Firefox and Bing search. The violation is not that Google’s position makes Google play a requirement, but that Google won’t let you bundle Google Play (or provide it legally) without extra restrictions (chrome and search).
To be clear, to my knowledge the Google services APK does not install actual applications, only API hooks that applications can utilize.