back to article EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers

Industry sources have confirmed to The Reg that the European Commission is once again prodding Google's Android contracts with phone makers. Preliminary letters, sent out a month ago, merely ask the phone makers if they find anything in Google's contracts restrictive. We understand the Commission is particularly interested in …

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FAIL

Right on the ball EU...

Just after the last major European manufacturer has been sold off.

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Re: Right on the ball EU...

two down votes already....look like Google's marketing droids are up early today...

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Do I detect...

...a future Samsung/Google merger spelling the end for Microsoft?

Why else would Samsung do what they did, removing any serious threat to Google's plans in this area?

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Re: Do I detect...

They're not merging, they're allying against the hostile forces of Microsoft and Apple who are beating them up in the patent wars. Agreeing to not step on each other's toes is just the groundwork.

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Re: Do I detect...

Samsung is only friends with Google at the moment because they need Android. If they are able to get Tizen out the door and get some traction behind it, they'll be happy to leave Android behind for as much of their product portfolio as they can and take all the revenue Google is making off them for themselves.

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Anonymous Coward

You really want Apple Gov.

"one that uses services from other companies, such as HERE Maps or alternative app stores."

Are they dyslexic or what?

Apple cripples Safari so the likes of Nokia Here do not work properly and have to leave!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You really want Apple Gov.

Apple, Google and Microsoft are all just as bad as each other.

I've owned phones from each camp.

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Re: You really want Apple Gov.

Do you really think Apple is going out of their way to code Safari so Here Maps don't work? More likely it just doesn't work. You can find sites that don't work properly on every browser, there are none that are perfect.

If Nokia wants Here Maps on iOS they can make an app. Google has a Google Maps app, and Apple hasn't stood in the way of it, so I'm sure they would approve a Here Maps app for people who want it. If I lived elsewhere, that's probably what I'd want, from what I understand it is the best mapping solution outside the US.

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Hardly any different than....

Underwriter Laboratories certification, IEEE requirements, ISO requirements, FCC part 15 compliance, BTL testing requirements, in fact complying to any kind of standard. All are very restrictive.

Lets see, guidelines for many phone manufacturers to produce complicated stuff so it will work properly, not infringe on others IP, have all expected features and work with an operating system that you as a manufacturer did not have to develop.

If you or the EU don't like it, go develop, produce and support your OWN operating system.

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Re: Hardly any different than....

Except none of the bodies you list in the first paragraph are companies. Google are not an "Independent, not-for-profit product safety testing and certification organization". Why do googletards like to make out that Google have everyone's best interests at heart?

They don't.

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Re: Hardly any different than....

"They don't."

So what? What has that got to do with google setting conditions to use their services and trademarks?

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

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Re: Hardly any different than....

But what does it matter? Google say "if you want to use Google-branded software and Google-owned trademarks you have to comply with our designs and use our entire stack. This is because we want anyone who picks up a Google-branded device to have a consistent experience, and so that we can reap the maximum profits (consumer data) from our efforts. If you don't like it, there is always open source Android, which other companies (like Amazon) have built successful platforms on top of."

Why should Google be expected pour billions of dollars into something that then everyone else can simply abscond with, massively fragment the ecosystem, ruin the brand name and image and give Google fuck all in return? I don't see Google saying "we're not going to pay billions upon billions just to slit our own throats" as being exactly mean-spirited.

How is this any different than Apple pumping engineering time and effort into webkit but then building their own branded Safari browser on top of that open source effort? Or Google cranking money into Chromium, then building a branded Chrome browser?

For that matter, how is this any different than Microsoft's logo programs? Intel's Centrino?

Let's say you built a laptop that, instead of including an Intel Wifi card, used a ZTE Zigbee card which only connected to Zigbee APs sold by your company. Why in the name of sweet merry fnord would Intel let you brand that Centrino?

How is that any different than companies stripping all the Google goodies out of Android and then wanting to use the Android brand name and the Google logo?

This isn't about right or wrong. It's about branding. And there are a number of sides to this. There's greed, there's management of consumer expectations and there's even an element of consumer protection to Google's actions.

Google doesn't have everyone's best interests at heart, but neither does Microsoft...and it's Microsoft that's behind this, mark my words.

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Re: Hardly any different than....

The EU itself, one of the most restrictive and legislative monoliths there is. What is wrong with the Eurocrats that they are completely incapable of undertanding the impact of their lunatic descions.

They should be far more concerned with the endless buyouts, mostly with debt, of highly successful companies by American corporations that are then asset stripped & trashed.

Nokia - Microsoft

Cadbury - Kraft

Asltrom - GEC

To name but a few.

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Re: Hardly any different than....

@Pott:

Business regulation is necessary to ensure a monopoly incumbent doesn't prevent superior services from reaching the public.

"Google doesn't have everyone's best interests at heart, but neither does Microsoft...and it's Microsoft that's behind this, mark my words."

Cute speculation, but irrelevant here. It doesn't matter who is "behind it". (Conspiracy Theory Alert). European investors, entrepreneurs, coders, and even the old lady next door to me all want better services and more competition. A Roach Motel clause may or may not be preventing that. We shall see.

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Re: Hardly any different than....Dan Paul

"Creating a specification that must be complied with is much different than restricting trade. Apple does the very same thing with all it's products and software"

Except that Google do not make any phones. Apple can do it because they make the phone and the OS and, as far as I can see, that doesn't restrict trade.

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@Orlowski

But there is nothing in Google's Android contracts that prevent you from building an Android-derivative smartphone/tablet/etc if you want. Go right ahead and do so, and put as many services as you want on it, and brand it yourself. Amazon's done it just fine.

You just can't use Google's proprietary services and applications and Google's trademarks unless you use them as a package. I don't see what's wrong with that. Where is this "preventing competition"? How is this preventing competition?

There are decent alternatives for everything Google makes. If you want to ship an Android Smartphone with your custom map software, but not Google Maps, then do so. Go get an alternative version of the rest of the Google stack - Play, Hangouts, etc - and install them alongside your maps software. Brand it under your name and then compete.

If Ford can say "though shalt not use the term Model E unless we say so" then what the merry hell is the problem with Google saying "thou shalt not use our trademarks and branding unless you agree to our terms?"

Apple can say "thou shalt not install OSX on non-Apple PCs" and there's apparently no problem with that. Your media chums can tell me what I can and can't do with the media I purchase, where I can watch it, on what sized screen and with how many friends and that's apparently totally groovy.

But Google saying "use our entire stack of apps and the UI we designed or you can't use our trademarks" is somehow preventing competition? Please explain this to me using little words, because apparently I'm just to stupid to get why this is a problem.

Google doesn't have a monopoly. Apple is a massive competitor in the Smartphone space and it dominates the tablet space. Microsoft is even almost relevant in these spaces. You don't have to use Android if you want a "free" OS for your devices, there are many others. From Android forks to Tizen to open source Android with services like AppBrain.

So this isn't a "Google is a monopoly thing". It isn't really a "Google is doing something completely different than others". It is - sort of - a bundling thing, but in exactly the same way as "OSX on Mac only" and is more closely related to branding and trademark disputes than any "attempt to use a monopoly in one area to create a monopoly in another." Google's monopoly on search is not something anyone has presented any evidence that they have tried to leverage to push companies to accept the "all or nothing" clause for Google's app stack on Android.

So I am going to have to go with "this is about people who don't like Google" more than "something Google is doing that is morally or legally bad". Unless, of course, you can explain to me the issue in terms small enough for my pathetically minute comprehensive capabilities.

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Re: Hardly any different than....Dan Paul

"Except that Google do not make any phones. Apple can do it because they make the phone and the OS and, as far as I can see, that doesn't restrict trade."

...whaaaaaat?

Apple make an OS and they only sell that OS tied to their hardware.

Google make an OS that you can use whenever you want.

Google also make a stack of applications which must be used together in order to use various trademarks.

You can still use the core of Android without using Google's apps. You can agree to ship Google's apps with the core of Android and thus get the trademarks. You cannot use iOS (or OSX) any anything you sell. Google are thus less restrictive about their stuff than Apple.

Just ask Amazon, Nokia or Cyanogenmod, all of whom sell software (and in some cases hardware) based off of that core Android distribution.

Sure, they'd love to be able to pick and choose from amongst Google's proprietary apps so that they can compete with elements of the stack that they feel are most profitable, and offload the cost of maintaining the rest of the stack to Google. Who wouldn't? But why should Google be forced to comply? There is lots of competition and they aren't in a monopoly position in either the smartphone or tablet markets.

There simply is no moral or ethical reason that Google should be forced to fund their competitors in this fashion.

Now, when Google reach 95%+ market share and are still using bundling, let's sit down and have a talk. Hell, let's have a talk if/when Google say you can't fork the base of Android without using the app bundle, because then they'd be violating all sorts of laws. Until then, they have exactly as much right to bundling their software products as Apple.

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Lobbyists, lobbyists,

Lobbyists, lobbyists lobbbbb eeeeeee iiiiiists!

g

Well who else is playing games?

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Megaphone

Long shot, I guess, but any chance

of getting a bare android phone, with no ****ing Facebook. Or Twitter. Or G+. Or any of the other battery/data draining apps that I don't need or want, and didn't ask for ?

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Re: Long shot, I guess, but any chance

They're getting better - the LG G3 for example lets you uninstall the bloatware that comes with it (I too have no use for Twitter or Facebook).

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Re: Long shot, I guess, but any chance

most 'droids you can root or install a stock rom to do this. Not many are restricted at all & more coming on the market that are basically unlocked immediately.

Obviously Google may cut this off in the future but you are buying into an ecosystem like windows phone or iOS. To protect Android from being a total mess you have to pay some price. Oh wait, you can have it free of google but you won't be able to use the store - e.g. cheapo chinese knockoff! Go for you life.

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Anonymous Coward

Embrace, Extend, Extinguish....Where have we heard that before....

Embrace an open source operating system

Extend its closed source components

Extinguish...yeah you know this bit already.

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I think you're incorrect.

Embrace, Extend, Monetize is the Silicon Valley way. It's Seattle's bizarre rain-soaked hooligans that change "monetize" to "extinguish."

Consider, for a moment, Apple. They embraced a BSD distro. They extended into OSX and eventually iOS. They then raked in eleventy squillion souls dollars.

Google hopes to do the same with the Linux kernel, and many of the other core Linux packages. The results are Android, ChromeOS, and the handful of internal distros used to run their datacenters.

What about this is "extinguishing"? They're not pulling an ADHD Redmondian "embrace, extend, PlaysForSure, restart entire project with a new standard under a different name". And, unlike Seattle majors, Google gives a metric holycrap back to the open source community. When was the last time you saw more than token code filter out of Amazon, for example?

Different cultures, man. Different cultures.

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@Trevor

The big difference that I see, is mainly the hypocracy - Google claim that Android is Open Source, but in all practical ways, it isn't. BSD still is.

Google try to have their cake AND eat it with regard to third party use of Android; Apple have made no attempt to restrict usage of BSD.

Whether either of them is pure-of-heart is a rather seperate argument - in my opinion one of them is 75% evil, and the other one is 95% evil, but that's just my opinion, and I'm not going to tell you which is which!

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Android *IS* open source. Just like BSD is.

Google's proprietary applications are NOT open source. Just like OSX is not open source.

What's the fucking difference?

Google have made zero attempts to restrict third-party android. They only restrict use of Google's proprietary apps and trademarks. Want to build an Android without the Googliness? Go hard and do so.

Amazon, Nokia and Cynaogen have all made very popular Android forks. Yes, they had to put effort into taking base Android and making it usable. But by the same token, if you want something that newbs can use, you have to do the same thing to BSD. OSX isn't FLOSS for you to run on any device you want. But you're perfectly free to use BSD and slap your own UI on it. Go hard.

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I did not know why this article was causing me brain bleeding, then I read who wrote it and it all made sense.

"Google releases Android source code, and claims this makes the system "open". But this is true only up to a point. For a device to access Google's own services – such as Play and Maps – it must integrate a stack called GMS (Google Mobile Services) and pass strict compatibility tests devised by Google."

This again?! What is so hard to get? You can get the Android source for free and you can modify it however you want. If you want to use Google's services you abide by their rules. Why? Because it's not your damn right to use their service, it's a prvilege granted to you. They *own* the service and get to decide what's what.

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@ Man With Bleeding Brain

I'm not convinced you tried very hard to read the article. Google's GMS is a binary blob that sits on the open source Android base. The MADA contracts that interest DG-COMP govern access and conditions for use of GMS, not the open source base.

Yes, Google own GMS and "get to decide what's what". But if accepting the GMS "privilege" means you can't then make a non-GMS phone in your product range, because you break the GMS contract, then this may be anti-competitive.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

@Man With Burning Brain:

Your comment shows some difficulty with reading comprehension.

Android is open source and GMS is a binary blob. The MADA contracts, which interest the authorities, put conditions on the access to GMS. Google is free to put conditions on GMS and has good reasons to do so, to avoid fragmentation. However, a real or inferred Roach Motel clause that prevented a phone maker from making a non-GMS phone in their product range could be considered to be anti-competitive.

Yes, Google own GMS and "get to decide what's what". But only up to a point. This is one of the perils of being a monopoly.

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Holy hell these bureaucrats really do have too much time on their hands

They're not getting enough complaints about Google so they're writing to companies encouraging them come up with something? Is it just me? I feel like it's just me.

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Blame the telco

They like android because they can install all kinds of crap if they want. But if you buy anything but the newest top of the line phone you can forget them providing any upgrades at all.

So Google wants to be able to upgrade more of the phones features from the app store.

They want to compete with Apple who don't let the phone companies control the upgrades. If Google upgrade android from 4.4.3 to 4.4.4 the phone companies don't give a crap, they just want you to buy a new phone every 2 years anyway. But now more stuff is part of the google blob so you can upgrade your camera from the google play store without needing an OS upgrade from the phone company.

The only thing they should be looking at is to make sure they are not pulling a Microsoft and using incentives to make sure all of a companies devices are google devices. If Amazon want to make a google phone, but keep selling the non-google fire that should be OK.

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Me too.

As I said lobbyists are somehow sweetening the deal NetWorkAdmin.

The rotten fruit want us all as prunes.

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Opinion...

Looks to me like the EU are trying to proactively prevent history repeating.

Windows was the market leader and M$ used that lead to kill off office competition and severely wound the Web browsers as well as undermine Internet protocols in favour of their proprietary code. The EU stepped in, made court rulings but it was all to late to make any real impact beyond a slapped wrist. Competitor's office suites erased from history, Netscape was dead and we're all still suffering the duel browser compatibility issues.

So step in early, ensure its an open field for competition before the market place crystallises on a single standard, office package or market place.

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My initial thought was that Google was rapidly turning into Apple. Then I read:

"A material metaphor is the unifying theory of a rationalized space and a system of motion. "

and knew I'd got it completely wrong.

Apple's HIG actually make sense.

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