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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: HTC?
By jonsmirl on 2018-07-11 21:52:25
I think the article is off - Google prevents you from making an Android fork and calling it "Android".

Nothing stops a vendor from shipping multiple apps that do the same thing. Look at a Samsung phone, there's two of everything there - one from Samsung and one from Google.

So it is fine to ship with a phone with Alexa support as long as they don't remove the Google voice support. This has to do with the trademark on Android. Google controls what that trademark means, and it means that "OK google" will be supported in your phone. Of course you can go into settings and turn it off.

But if the vendor removed "Ok google" and only shipped Alexa under the Google trademark rules they could not call it an Android phone anymore.

And that make perfect sense. Android is branding and branding implies a certain set of services will be available.
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RE: Comment by kurkosdr
By jonsmirl on 2018-07-11 21:56:18
And now you have first hand experience with what a disaster it will be if everyone can replace random pieces of Google GMS. Everything is going to break.

The solution here is to do what Amazon did - make a competitor to Google GMS. You can do that today with no need for the EU to get involved.
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RE[5]: Idiot browser choice box in the EU
By Moochman on 2018-07-11 23:54:30
I have to reiterate, it was in the summary: this is about manufacturers wanting to keep the Play Store, not replace it.....

In other words, at least in terms of the in-app ad revenue, there is little danger.

Aside from that, your arguments in your various comments aren't consistent with each other. You think it's a slippery slope to let manufacturers remove some of Google's apps, because Google will lose customers for those apps, but if a manufacturer removes *all* of the apps as Amazon does it's somehow better for Google???

It seems you're more intent on finding reasons to accuse the EU of foul play and/or defending Google than of actually thinking the issues through logically...

My opinion: Ensure a level playing field (by getting rid of licensing lock-in) and then let the market decide. If Google's apps and services stand on their own, as I believe they do, then licensing lock-in shouldn't be needed.

Edited 2018-07-12 00:12 UTC
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RE[2]: Comment by kurkosdr
By Moochman on 2018-07-12 00:10:17
If everything were to break then the manufacturers would just have to deal with it. But it won't, the proof is in the fact that it's possible to sideload the Play Store on Amazon devices, without installing any other Google apps.

This is a case about licensing lock-in, not technical issues.
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RE[6]: Idiot browser choice box in the EU
By jonsmirl on 2018-07-12 12:36:19
My position is that you need to replace the whole suite (like FireOS or cryanognmod does) and not force the replacement of pieces of it. Forcing piecemeal replacement of it is a path to complete disaster for the user experience.

No action is needed by the EU since it is already possible to replace the entire Google GMS suite. If you have an unlocked phone you can remove Google GMS and replace it with FireOS if you want right now. Locking is done by the carriers and does not involve Google.

What the EU needs to do is come up with a EU-OS equivalent to FireOS.
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RE[3]: Comment by kurkosdr
By jonsmirl on 2018-07-12 12:40:21
Nothing is stopping you right now from loading two of everything. Look at a Samsung phone, it ships from the factory with two of everything.

The problem is in forcing Google to allow subsystems to be replaced (not a second version in parallel). As you discovered, replacement is going to be a compatibility disaster.

Edited 2018-07-12 12:41 UTC
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RE: Bad approach
By xylifyx on 2018-07-13 07:17:52
> There is no application store based in the EU

One of the reasons for that is that the Android OEM agreements make sure you can't sell AOSP based phones.

In smaller countries it is much easier to gain a monopoly than in the US. That is perhaps why Europe is stricter on this.
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RE[6]: Familiar
By zima on 2018-07-13 18:37:40
> 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.
You already forgot Symbian/Nokia?
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RE[4]: Familiar
By zima on 2018-07-13 18:39:54
> Samsung is selling Tizen and Android right now.
So? Tizen is not related to AOSP...
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RE[6]: Familiar
By zima on 2018-07-17 23:44:17
> when Eu wants a large project done, like Galileo
While there is a sort of overlap with Galileo, ESA is separate from the EU.
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