Friday, July 20, 2018

The European Commission Versus Android

European Commission (via John Gruber):

The European Commission has fined Google €4.34 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules. Since 2011, Google has imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general internet search.

Google must now bring the conduct effectively to an end within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

Ben Thompson (tweet):

The European Commission found Google guilty of breaching EU antitrust rules in three ways:

  • Illegally tying Google’s search and browser apps to the Google Play Store; to get the Google Play Store and thus a full complement of apps, OEMs have to pre-install Google search and Chrome and make them available within one screen of the home page.
  • Illegally paying OEMs to exclusively pre-install Google Search on every Android device they made.
  • Illegally barring OEMs that installed Google’s apps from selling any device that ran an Android fork.


Today the situation is very different: that contractual limitation could go away tomorrow (or, more accurately, in 90 days), and it wouldn’t really matter because, as I explained above, many apps are no longer Android apps but are rather Google Play apps. To run on an Android fork is by no means impossible, but most would require more rework than simply uploading to a new App Store.

In short, in my estimation the real antitrust issue is Google contractually foreclosing OEMs from selling devices with non-Google versions of Android; the only way to undo that harm in 2018, though, would be to make Google Play Services available to any Android fork.

1 Comment RSS · Twitter

I know this isn't a great solution, but Google allows GAPPS to exist for third party ROMS. Any reason, a community page could not offer "unofficial support documents" to show how to install the four files required to add GAPPs to any particular Android device? Maybe even link to the exact files on a site like APK Mirror or perhaps even OpenGapps? Not sure if the current contract would limit non Play Store device manufacturers to point to this officially or if user support forums could just step up to support?

Not a permanent fix, just curious how an Android device with sideload allowed (almost all of them) couldn't add Google Play support in a matter of minutes. All my Fire OS devices run Google Play as one example.

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