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Google may have to make major changes to Android
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-07-10 22:12:33

The punishment from Margrethe Vestager, the European Union's competition chief, is expected to include a fine ranging into the billions of dollars, according to people familiar with her thinking, marking the second time in as many years that the region’s antitrust authorities have found that Google threatens corporate rivals and consumers.

At the heart of the E.U.'s looming decision are Google's policies that pressure smartphone and tablet manufacturers that use Google's Android operating system to pre-install the tech giant's own apps. In the E.U.'s eyes, device makers such as HTC and Samsung face an anti-competitive choice: Set Google Search as the default search service and offer Google's Chrome browser, or lose access to Android's popular app store. Lacking that portal, owners of Android smartphones or tablets can't easily download games or other apps - or services from Google’s competitors - offered by third-party developers.

Vestager has argued the arrangements ensure Google's continued dominance of the Internet ecosystem. As a result, her forthcoming ruling could prohibit Google from striking such app-installation deals with device makers, experts have said. Alternatively, the E.U. could force the company to give consumers an easier way to switch services, like search engines, on their phones or tablets.

If Google illegally pressured OEMs, then they ought to be punished. I'm not sure forcing changes to the default services and apps is the right way to go, though.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-30 -- 31-40 -- 41-50
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RE[8]: Familiar
By The1stImmortal on 2018-07-11 09:10:22
> I can still use my old Nokia dumb phone, right?
Back when there was a solid mobile OS made here, the EU did nothing to protect it.

The EU isn't trying to protect any particular product or manufacturer here.

All it's trying to do is prevent a company leveraging a dominant position in one market to acquire dominance in another market.

That's a pretty fundamental principle used in many developed economies.
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RE[9]: Familiar
By nicubunu on 2018-07-11 09:32:06
Which is not the case, as OEMs can easily use AOSP instead.
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RE[4]: Familiar
By Lennie on 2018-07-11 10:16:09
There are alternatives, but that you aren't even aware of them shows how hard it is to get a foothold.
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RE: Idiot browser choice box in the EU
By rtfa on 2018-07-11 13:03:52
> If they want to make another idiotic browser choice box in the EU, then the way they should do it is to require all phones to ship with only AOSP installed.

I think thats what they are saying, e.g. Samsung or blackberry starts with AOSP and then skins and adds the apps it wants and not have the Google apps as well. i.e. Unbundle the Google stuff and allow the company providing the phone to configure to its liking.
Google does seem to turning into Microsoft of old.
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RE[2]: Idiot browser choice box in the EU
By jonsmirl on 2018-07-11 13:49:52
You can do that right now, nothing needs to change. You just described how Amazon's FireOS works. And, by the way, you can side load all of Google's stuff onto FireOS if you want to.

There is nothing stopping any EU company from going out and doing what Amazon did. They just don't want to do the hard work needed to build an alternative system on top of AOSP.
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RE: Bad approach
By jonsmirl on 2018-07-11 13:51:31
That's the root of the problem, no one in the EU is even trying very hard to compete.
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RE: Google Apps
By jonsmirl on 2018-07-11 13:56:04
The problem with the EU mandating that you can swap out various parts of the Google package is that a ruling like that will immediately be abused by the phone vendors. They will swap out the app store and ad engine and sell off search rights, thus taking away 100% of Google's revenue while leaving them with all of the development and testing expense.

If you as going to take away the revenue, then it is only fair that you can't use the rest of the suite. Amazon did it a fair way, they replaced the entire suite.
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RE[5]: Familiar
By jonsmirl on 2018-07-11 14:12:34
You are all confused. AOSP is the same program as Google phone and Amazon FireOS. Both Google phone and FireOS are running AOSP inside.

The code that turns AOSP into a Google phone is all installable and contained in apk files. I have many times taken generic Chinese AOSP boxes and then installed Google GMS onto them which in turn gives them the standard Google behavior.

What is going on here is that those apk files are system level apk files and for security reasons can only be installed via a USB connection and adb. There is no technical reason they couldn't exist in the app store, but if they did it would open a huge security hole. Requiring you to plug the phone into USB before allowing the install is a good security guard.

FireOS works the same way.

The EU is so messed up on this. It is not like Google killed another smart phone vendor to get where they are in the EU, the problem is that no one in the EU entered the smart phone OS market.

So the EU should fix the competition problem by creating another OS in the manner of FireOS and Google GMS. Take some of that state money and pay off European companies to get together and build a competitor. Obviously this competitor will be such a great product that all Europeans will switch to it.

Note that it is even possible for existing phones to switch to this new EU-OS. If you plug a phone into USB adb you can delete Google GMS and install EU-OS.

Or is the truth what we all believe, that the EU is just looking for ways the steal billions from US tech companies? Payback, payback, payback, ...
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RE: Google Apps
By protomank on 2018-07-11 14:15:38
Totally agreed. If EU really wants to create competitions, it should make mandatory that you can replace any non-essential (as in the phone would brick) software pre-installed. For all manufacturers, including Apple.

When I had a Samsung phone, when I installed an alternative rom, the phone went really faster, just because I was able to remove all pre-installed junk.
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RE[2]: Familiar
By xylifyx on 2018-07-11 14:30:52
That you can build your own ecosystem on top of AOSP, is true. What you can't is sell those phones and Android phones at the same time.
Permalink - Score: 3

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