back to article Hey mobile firms: About that Android thing... Did Google add a lockout clause?

The European Commission has asked mobile telecoms firms and manufacturers of devices to provide details of any agreements they have with Google regarding the use of the technology giant's Android operating system. A number of Google's rivals have recently complained about agreements between Google and mobile device manufacturers …

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Holmes

So in other words

Microsoft complain about Google maybe following Microsoft's own playbook.

Perhaps they should have trademarked it.

If they're complaining about bundled apps then I'm fairly sure the manuf's are free to remove all the default functionality if they wish, it'd be a lot easier than disentangling IE from Windows was. Perhaps 'being able to make a phone call' is anticompetitive behaviour for a mobile OS.

Cos, yeah, IE for Android. Even if MS made it who the fuck would ever install it.

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Holmes

Re: So in other words

Yes and MS paid a lot of money in fines. Time for Google to pay up.

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Re: So in other words

Sure it's the same thing, I mean, Google make HTC and Samsung pay them for every WinPhone they ship, right?

Really, these FaisSearch guys are getting desperate.

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Re: So in other words

Thinking about it, do Windows Phones give you a browser choice screen...?

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Re: So in other words

Do they have an overwhelming majority market share which would therefore lead to a monopoly?

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Re: So in other words

No, because Google don't have any software patents worth stealing...

And, because Microsoft don't go around stealing other peoples' technology.

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Re: So in other words

If I was looking for a portable pocket communicator, I would want something that included only what I needed and wanted and none of the cruft that they normally have. So fobbing me off with 'neverheardofthem.search.com', 'backsidebook.com', 'thewoundedbullsgreatesthits.com', etc is of no use to me. I did get a phone complete with a series of bookmarks - none of which are any use, none of which enhance my 'experience' and the useless device sits in a rack, unused, unloved (and not an Android machine). Perhaps Android would have been better, but not if it is forced to get clutter from a range of useless junk companies I've never heard of.

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Re: So in other words

Consumers didn't choose Windows because it had IE, but it couldn't be sold without it. And, allegedly, couldn't be sold with any alternative.

Consumers choose Android because they want Google services, but you can sell it without if you don't really want anyone to buy your stuff. And you can include your own versions of the apps even if you choose to include Google apps. It's up to the manufacturers.

So the fact that Android usually ships with a set of high quality apps, chosen by the manufacturer, is about as relevant to the Microsoft case as Apple choosing which apps it provides on Iphones. I don't see any cases being made that Apple shouldn't be allowed to do it wants with the devices it sells, even when it was the dominant monopoly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So in other words

IE For Android? I'd install it in a heartbeat and use it around OS zealots like Eadon.

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Linux

Re: So in other words

Consumers choose Android because it currently is the only mobile platform in contention at present that does not have hardware vendor lock-in. However, it is far from perfect in that regard, and in fact, I find it frustrating that Google services are forced upon me (Google only location services, some Google only cloud storage and backup, Google search on home screen now not removable by default, Google Play app DRM, Google able to call home,etc. etc.)

I welcome such intervention from the EU as it may help flag a lot of the Google BS about Android being "open" while simultaneously introducing increasingly insidious proprietary elements. Then there is the fact that Google does not permit partners to let consumers have a choice on whether to include Google apps and Google-approvred versions of Android or not, as it's either all in or all out (as Acer learnt to its dismay).

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Re: So in other words

"Do they have an overwhelming majority market share"

So it's OK for them to lock you to IE, Skydrive, and other MS services. But Google is evil for including Google services but letting you use what you want. I have Firefox on my phone, I use dropbox too.

Crapsearch can get stuffed.

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Re: So in other words

"I don't see any cases being made that Apple shouldn't be allowed to do it wants with the devices it sells, even when it was the dominant monopoly."

When was that, exactly?

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FAIL

Re: So in other words

Um...

Google search on the home screen? What phone do you have?

My Galaxy S3 hasn't got any search on the home screen, I've got the Amazon App Store installed, I have Dropbox for cloud storage (including some automatic upload thing set to it uploads photos that I take to Dropbox, well assuming I have enough storage)... all this on a non-rooted phone too (I've got one of the Galaxy S3's with the slightly dodgy eMMC, and I want to send it back without any warranty issues when it eventually dies and I understand that rooting it sets a flag, and I can't be bothered with the hassle of resetting that).

By the way, I don't see an option of Google or Yahoo search or any other app stores on my daughter's old Windows Phone 7.5 handset (Nokia Lumia 710).

Rob

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Re: So in other words

No, they can't remove google services or change them.

You have to either include them all as they are are where they are, or not include them at all, and have a "fork" of Android (you won't be able to sell it as Android, just "Android based").

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Re: So in other words

You nailed it.

You can ship Android with Mozilla or whatever you like.. as long as you have the basic android apps.

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Re: So in other words

You are right, Apple ships with what Apple wants and thats tough shit on everyone else, and indeed it controls the only way you have of putting a competitive product on its phone - so you're really stuffed good and proper.

But, Apple having a dominant monopoly? When? In the early days there were plenty of Symbian competitor phones - and damned good ones at that - pity that the BBC trashed them, then Nokia's new CEO trashed it... after getting the EU to stump up a pile of our cash so he could ensure that his trashing it would clear the path for Microsoft.... despite the failure of the policy costing Nokia very dear - and probably in due course destroying what is left of the company.

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Re: So in other words

"Consumers choose Android because they want Google services..."

No. I certainly did NOT choose Android because I want Google services; in fact, I do not use Google services on my phone at all. I have no data entered into any Google service in the phone (for example my phonebook is saved to the phone only, not to a Google account, and then I sync with my laptop via MyPhoneExplorer) and all Google sync services are deactivated (yes, that does include the location services).

I bought Android because I didn't see much of a CHOICE - there were only two significant players in the market when I purchased, Apple and Google, and I had to pick the lesser of two evils. And that is the choice I believe a lot of people are making. It is not "I want Google", it is "Do I go with Apple or [other]?" For most people, "[other]" is most likely Google because they are the only other mobile OS with significant support.

This is a small but significant difference: one type of choice is 'positive' and based upon actively choosing a product while the other choice is 'negative', deciding you DON'T want a certain product but being forced to purchase the other due to the market reality of only have 2 major players to choose from. The same choice is there if you decide to buy a gaming console - XBox or PlayStation. You can make a 'positive' choice and say "I want ________" or be forced into your purchase only because you said (to yourself) "I DON'T want 'X" so I guess [my only choice is] 'Y'"

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Re: So in other words

Snake, if you don't want your data made available to your OS maker then the only choice is Android, which is another reason this investigation is BS. But I suspect you're in a tiny minority.

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WTF?

Re: So in other words

Actually the complaints are about Google Wallet. See, if you want to pay for anything from Google Play, you are now FORCED to sign up for and associate your mobile account with Google Wallet..

Funny, the words Google Wallet are in a very faint off-white that's almost unreadable, so you don't even know what you're doing until it's too late.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So in other words

'backsidebook.com' -sounds like a porn search engine

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Re: So in other words

See, if you want to pay for anything from Google Play, you are now FORCED to sign up for and associate your mobile account with Google Wallet..

Or you could just buy a £10 play store voucher, and put a small amount of credit on Wallet, and not actually give them your credit card details.

The only problem I have with Android is the cruft of apps that HTC installed and wont let me delete without invalidating my warranty in some way.

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Re: So in other words

@Craigness:

Indeed. And there's the joke of it. To merge two news stories:

People are throwing out personal information by the bucket load and have no qualms with it...as long as (a) it is to a private entity and (b) if it gives them some level of convenience. And then get their knickers into a bunch when this same information gets into someone else's hands. Like their government.

[cue Apple theme] There's a Benjamin Franklin quote for that.

Ironically, WinMo didn't collect any information on you at all. Sometimes I feel I should have stayed with the WinMob crowd, at least you know who is doing what behind your back.

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Trollface

Oh, this old chestnut

Maybe Ford should be investigated because I can't have a Mercedes engine in my Focus.

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Re: Oh, this old chestnut

Actually you can. Do it yourself.

That's like saying Microsoft should sue Apple because Apple don't sell it's devices with Windows pre-installed are as an option and that Apple should also sue Microsoft because Microsoft doesn't sell it's shit either.

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Re: Oh, this old chestnut

Wouldn't be too sure... the manufacturers tend to share engines, gearboxes etc etc etc around these days.

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Re: Oh, this old chestnut

@Loggie,

You mean like you can with Android?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh, this old chestnut

I had a Merc engine in my Mitsubishi, and in fact it came with a choice of engines.

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Big Brother

Google apps optional

The manufacturers are able to use Android without using any of the Google apps and plenty of devices do run Android without them.

All Google specify is that if you want to use their apps then you have to meet certain criteria.

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Re: Google apps optional

And there are plenty of cheap tablets and phones which prove that principle.

But I suspect what they are saying is that lets say a company caled "MotoSung" agree to make a Nexus 4.5 can they also make a windows phone or even their own "phone OSX". Do Google put pressure on them to not allow it, or now allow the same promotion/discount oportunities. That would be abusive I guess.

However, lets just make a point here - How many android phones do nokia make? (shame, cos I always liked nokia kit!)

Just my 2p's worth - Nuff said.

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Re: Google apps optional

Samsung make phones with their own os (Bada if i recall correctly), Windows & android..

So are google forcing them to NOT make phones with another OS? i don't think so..

Although I actually would LOVE a NON-US based smart phone OS to become popular... I would actually like an UK/EU based OS, maybe even an UK based phone manufacturer!

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Re: Google apps optional

" I would actually like an UK/EU based OS, maybe even an UK based phone manufacturer!"

Well, we had an EU based OS. But the Finns managed to fuck it up to the point that they had to import Elop. The crimes (or not) of Elop are irrelevant here, and the point is that Nokia had the software, and made a complete mess. Even without Elop it's unlikely they would have recovered the situation.

As for UK (or even EU) manufacture, the EU has long since regulated itself out of the IT production and assembly markets. If you wanted UK design, there was Sendo, bought and wasted by the idiots of Motorola, albeit predating the smartphone era, Ericsson made great little phones, Siemens had some interesting stuff etc.

We had the choice of buying European, the problem is that when the money went on the table people didn't choose Nokia, Siemens, Sendo, or Ericsson.

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Re: Google apps optional

Yes, but they make way fewer than they do Android phones - that's the point...

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Happy

Re: Google apps optional

" I would actually like an UK/EU based OS, maybe even an UK based phone manufacturer!"

What a pity this article (and therefore comment) came appeared on the wrong date to make this link timely. Oh well.

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Re: Google apps optional

They make way fewer non-Android phones because people want Android. Have you ever gone into a phone shop and been told they're out of stock of Windows phones?

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Thumb Down

Re: Google apps optional

Andrew 66:"Yes, but they make way fewer than they do Android phones - that's the point...

And, obviously, this is because of Google's anti-competitive practices rather than Android being more popular?

The EC might be better off asking why Nokia is locked to Windows Phone. It certainly doesn't make good business sense for them to put all of their eggs in that particular basket unless they are contractually obliged to.

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Re: Google apps optional

"Have you ever gone into a phone shop and been told they're out of stock of Windows phones?"

Quite.

Vodafone are currently trying to ram Windows phones at me as an "upgrade" from my 2 year old HTC Sensation. Now why would they be doing that? Can't shift them? Being paid to push them? Or a combination of both?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google apps optional

Yes, I went into the Vodafone shop just before Christmas to try to get a Nokia 820, they didn't have any. When I asked they said that the 7.x phones didn't sell that well, so they were going to wait until after Christmas to sell the wp8 phones. The guy I spoke to wasn't particularly impressed when I asked him if missing the peak trading time of year would be beneficial for sales.

I didn't follow up with "WTF? You're knowningly selling obsolete hardware because you overstocked?!"

Guess who I no longer have a contract with?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google apps optional

Nokia isn't locked to Windows Phone, they have other OSes, just not Android.

But, you know why spoil a good Pro Google/Anti MS rant. It's not going to be long before the tide of opinion will turn against Google, probably in exactly the same way it did against MS. They'll probably end up being sued by their government in some way and then return a rather more humble company, who people will bitterly slag off for years to come.

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Re: Google apps optional

I don't get that point - if you mean that Nokia don't make Android phones because they make WP ones, and MS put "pressure" on them, the obvious counter examples are Samsung and HTC, who happily do WP and Android.

(Also with Samsung and Acer making Chromebooks as well as Windows laptops, I think the idea that companies are prevented from releasing alternative OSs no longer seems to be true.)

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Re: Google apps optional

Gosh yes, because I've never ever seen a network operator try to advertise or push any other type of phone.

(Seriously - you'll hear or see a mention of an Apple product tens of times a day whether on TV or in the shops, but when MS dare to do marketing, it's seen as desperate.)

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Re: Google apps optional

"Nokia isn't locked to Windows Phone, they have other OSes, just not Android.

I know that, but Symbian is being relegated to "feature" phones, and they kicked MeeGo into the long grass.

There are 4 major "smartphone" operating systems. iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BalckberryOS. Of those, two are available for 3rd party manufacturers, Windows and Android. Samsung and HTC use both. Nokia only uses Windows. Why?

I would imagine that a Nokia Android handset would sell well, probably better than their Windows phones, so why don't they produce one?

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Re: Google apps optional

Symbian was a UK smartphone OS - created from psion software and its epoc32 OS and the input of a number of companies. At one point you could get a Sendo (British company based in Birmingham) with Symbian (with Nokia's S60 UI) - so you could get exactly what you wanted.

Unfortunately the Apple loving BBC and Rory 'Apple' jones did such a good advertising job for Apple that they had a heavy part in the damage to Symbian and Nokia that left it all wide open to the intrusion of the idiot Elop who then persuaded the EU to give him the funds to buy Symbian and destroy it totally in favour of his American chums... oh well - when history is written the Americans will once again take full credit for a British invention and no one will question it.

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Re: Google apps optional

I doubt there is any written contract - none of the forked tongue folk at the top of Microsoft or Nokia are quite that dumb. BUT they are all chums on the same golf course... as normal, not what you know but who you know,.

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Re: Google apps optional

Symbian is NOT used anymore, you can still get the 808 pureview and a few of the last of the smartphones, it is not, repeat nto being used in any 'feature phones'. S40 is still used in feature phones. The last few UI's made the two look very similar but the S40 will not run Symbian applications - the 808 pureview, n8 etc. will.

Nokia were creating a linux phone (by the strange method of cutting down an android software stack and replacing the UI... strange I know) but that was canned last year (when the last massive wave of redundancies were announced).

Nokia has just two OS - windows (which it is using increasingly on lower end devices in a vain attempt to get some numbers) and S40 which it has on occasion dubbed a 'smartphone' in order to make its numbers look slightly less pathetic than they would otherwise be. It has nothing else, nor anything else up its corporate sleeve.

Elop is a one track pony - a lame half dead one going the wrong way on a street leading to the desert and an ocean to drown in, but he is just that - one track. I daresay that having persuaded the EU to fund Nokia's purchase of Symbian and its subsequent destruction (by himself) he will end up a bloody site better off than you or me when Nokia eventually dies.

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Re: Google apps optional

"I would imagine that a Nokia Android handset would sell well, probably better than their Windows phones, so why don't they produce one?"

Because Microsoft is giving them billions not to

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Re: Google apps optional

(Seriously - you'll hear or see a mention of an Apple product tens of times a day whether on TV or in the shops, but when MS dare to do marketing, it's seen as desperate.)

MS advertising is seen as desperate because it's awful. Apple ads are also awful. The "more people listen to music/take photos with an iphone" ads are the worst. Seriously? You have no more features? It can play music/take photos? Wow.

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Boffin

Re: Google apps optional

I'm going to be a pain, but isn't it a one "trick" pony?!

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Nokia, WIndows and Android

This case is about bundling and abuse of market position. Google Search is not a requirement for Google's Calendar or App Store to work, but licensees are forbidden from replacing it (you can put something else on the phone as an app, but you can't replace it). In the same way, Internet Explorer was not essential to running the Windows OS, and yet licensees were forbidden from replacing it. Microsoft's sins don't become virtues just because it's Google committing them.

Nice to see the everlasting "Nokia should have used Android" comment is still doing the rounds. Actually, Nokia's negotiations with Google back in 2010 are illuminating for this case, even though they didn't involve search.

Contrary to some conspiracy theorists, Nokia did negotiate with Google before dumping Symbian. During these negotiations, Google made it very clear that Nokia could adopt Android (or more correctly, join the Open Handset Alliance), but what Nokia could not do was use their own mapping and navigation service in place of Google's. (Same for Nokia Music, which is at similar level as Google's music store, and had cost a lot of money to set up, and was generating good revenues)

They could of course just port Android to their hardware without OHA membership, but if they wanted to go their own way like this, they would be barred from access to Gmail, Google Calendar and what is now the Play Store: they'd have ended up with all the downsides of Android and none of the benefits, plus the extra costs of duplicating Google's services (as Ovi showed, this was exactly what they wanted to avoid).

As a "concession", Google offered to buy Nokia's mapping and location division from them. That would not only have been a bad deal for Nokia, but would have sucked for consumers, as Navteq/Nokia is Google's largest competitor in mapping software.

In contrast, when Nokia went to Microsoft (already a Navteq customer, incidentally), MS were prepared to concede the mapping, allow Nokia to add their own services to the OS package, and MS offered discounted licences and marketing support.

That's why Nokia did not, and will not, make an Android phone. Google's terms gave Nokia very little value.

You can look at their choice of Microsoft as bribery, or even betrayal if you're the sort of person who emotionally invests in legal constructs, but it's nothing of the sort. Nokia's purpose is to do what is best for Nokia's shareholders. Just as Google's only purpose is to do what is best for Google's shareholders, and Microsoft's purpose is to do what is best for Microsoft's shareholders. In this case, Microsoft and Nokia were able to create an arrangement that benefited both; Google's offer benefited only Google.

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"more people listen to music/take photos with an iphone"

I heard one of those ads and couldn't help but notice that the sentence is incomplete, because they want to imply something they can't legally claim.

What they want you to think is " ... than anything else", but that's not true, so they omit it and leave you to think they've said it instead.

What they have actually said, though, is worthless as a recommendation. Yes, "every day more photos are taken with the iPhone", but this will remain true unless everyone who has an iPhone suddenly stops using it forever. It's also true if you substitute any device for "iPhone", even obsolete products whose user-base is declining. Try it with "Box Brownie"...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google apps optional

The word "popular" may not be appropriate here, but you do know that RIM, the makers of BlackBerry, are based in Canada? What's more, in the last year their product releases have focussed on Canada/UK ahead of the US.

The CPU and, I think, the GPU, of many modern phones are designed in Cambridge, UK.

Since Microsoft acquired Nokia, and my N900 became U/S, I've had a choice of...BlackBerry or BlackBerry. Jolla would have involved waiting too long, I'm afraid. But I hope they succeed.

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