back to article EU Android latest: Critics diss Google's money-spinning 'cure'

The lawyer leading the complaints against Alphabet in the EU Android case doesn’t sound impressed by giant ad-slinger’s proposed remedy. Not one bit. While appealing the verdict, Google has also proposed separating its Android bundle into two parts, charging for the part that includes the Play app store. And this is the bit …

  1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    A "fair" solution is Google charges for the software at the same price for everyone and every-phone, and then pays users to opt-in to access their data at a given rate per location point shared, etc.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Odd, I would have thought the commentards here would like to see Google having to offer a "price" for their data.

      1. Alan Hope

        Perhaps we feel that Google should pay users for their cash-cow slurp by giving them their software free plus a regular sum of money which represents an individual user's fair share of their mind-bogglingly vast profits.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Odd, I would have thought the commentards here would like to see Google having to offer a "price" for their data.

        It's an asymmetric auction so not really possible to set the price, which is also unlikely to remain constant.

  2. Jon 37

    It's quite reasonable for other manufacturers to want to replace the default email client and mapping apps, and to decide not to include YouTube.

    Of course, that means less traffic to Google's apps, which means less ad revenue for Google, so the price might go up. That's reasonable too.

    Regarding the tracking inside Android apps... so long as the app makers have a choice, that's fine. I don't think anyone is stopping other people from offering an equivalent service to the app makers?

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      "Regarding the tracking inside Android apps... so long as the app makers have a choice, that's fine."

      No, no, no. As long as the users have a choice, that's fine. On the whole, app developers have no high ground on the issue of spying.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge


        There was something mentioned in the past (on this issue) about Amazon not being able use full android thanks to the restrictions from Google. If their bloatware filled tablets are supposed to be better then that's worrying. Looking at the access log on my firewall app the bloatware is constantly calling home to Amazon. Much more so than the google bloatware on the android phone I'm writing this on. I've disabled all the Samsung apps.

        1. Fred West

          Re: Amazon

          Utter nonsense.

          Amazon and anyone else can freely download and compile full ANDROID from just like any other open source product.

          If you GOOGLE play,that is totally different and rules apply just like any other commercial product.

          Really, how hard is it for people to understand this???? I know the average intelligence is falling, but come on, this is basic stuff..

          1. Vehlin

            @Fred West

            That's not entirely true.

            Google have been steadily stripping core functionality from the open source android and moving it within Google Play Services, try using an open source ROM on your android phone without installing the GApps package and you'll see how much stuff is missing. One big example is that google ported the location services into GApps and then required that apps in the Play Store use Google's Location Services.

          2. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Amazon

            The problem is that Google are restricting competition by moving as much as possible into Play Services (as mentioned just above) and not documenting APIs.

            Remember the EU antitrust case involving Microsoft and SMB? The remedy that the EU should impose on Play Services should be similar to that, i.e. it should be optional and fully documented.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Amazon

            " I know the average intelligence is falling, but come on, this is basic stuff.." Surely the average intelligence is always 100?

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: Amazon

              Surely the average intelligence is always 100.

              It is, but it won't flag up a problem if everybody's turned stupid.

      2. Jon 37

        Well, under GDPR, EU users should have a choice about tracking. US users can be either offered the same choice, or a simpler "if you don't want to be tracked then don't use the app" choice. I was assuming that went without saying, since it's a legal requirement.

        But the real issue here is online advertising. Google getting tracking data helps them sell advertising (because they can claim it is "more relevant" and the people who pay for adverts are willing to pay more for that). Google's competitors getting tracking data helps them sell advertising. App developers should be able to choose whether to sell a pay app that is ad-free, or an ad-supported app, and they should be able to choose which ad network(s) they use. The chosen ad networks will do the tracking.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          "The chosen ad networks will do the tracking."

          Which means that the app is doing the tracking, which means the app developers are doing the tracking. Devs are responsible for everything that their applications do, after all, and devs that expose their users to tracking with no option to disable it (by paying cash money is acceptable) are abusive.

          That so many apps have spy systems incorporated into them is the primary reason why I've stopped even evaluating new apps. Too much effort is required to make them even remotely secure.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "As long as the users have a choice, that's fine."

        The users always have a choice: they don't need to accept those apps or buy an Android phone for that matter.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Just put all the fracking Google apps in the Play Store, as opposed to pre-installing and disabling the deinstall option, and let the user decide which ones they want to install. Job done!

  3. ratfox Silver badge

    That I understand, the original finding was that Google had abused of their power over the Play store to force makers put Chrome on every mobile phone. And now, according to this lawyer, they are abusing of their power to charge money.

    I suppose that if the EU agree, they could simply order Google to distribute all their apps free, separately and without conditions.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      "That I understand, the original finding was that Google had abused of their power over the Play store to force makers put Chrome on every mobile phone. And now, according to this lawyer, they are abusing of their power to charge money."

      Yes, if you are a monopolist, and abuse it, you too can charge people just to be able to come to your shop.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      "they could simply order Google to distribute all their apps free, separately and without conditions."

      Or, even better, they could mandate that Google does force anyone to include the apps at all, and let people who want them get them from the app store. Then Google would be on safe ground making them free-but-spyware, or making them not spyware but costs money.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        "they could mandate that Google does force anyone"

        I meant doesn't. Ahem.

  4. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Windows Phone

    er, the lack of apps for WP wasn't due to dodgy practices by MS, unless you count successive incompatible versions of the platform pissing off even their most loyal developers.

    Apples, oranges.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Windows Phone

      Big difference between "dodgy, likely illegal" practices like they used with Windows PCs, and "so stupid, I can't believe they really thought that wouldn't kill their market" practices they used on Windows Phone.

  5. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    See who the critics are

    Mainly paid by Microsoft which does not like the facts that Bing is third rate compared to Google and that Android phones succeeded where Windows phones failed.

    From M$ perspective the "correct" outcome is for users to be forced to use Bing.

    (At the moment the search engine use is about 10 to 1 in favor of Google - the reason being Google does it better and has less crud on its home page.)

    1. _LC_

      Re: See who the critics are

      Yes, of course. The EU is pushing for Microsoft! *lol*

      Did you miss the last decade(s)?

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: See who the critics are

      It doesn't actually matter who the critics are, or why they're critical. What matters is whether or not their criticisms are accurate.

    3. Fred West

      Re: See who the critics are

      Indeed, this is no different to Microsofts lame Windows N "solution", that addressed the legal issue,but made no difference in the real world. Where was this bullshit lawyer then??? Advising Microsoft (fairsearch) how to comply in a meaningless way

      This will just raise the price of phones, and improve patching rates (as the £40 per phone licence also has new terms and conditions on OEM secuirty patching obligations)

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. eldakka Silver badge

    To me this means that Google values access to users at $40 per device.

    Hmm, I've had 4 Android phones over the years, so does this mean I can send Google a bill for $160?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, you were free to either accept or refuse the terms when you setup your phone.

      If you clicked No, you have an Android phone.

      If you clicked Yes, you have a Google Play phone.

      Come on, it's not hard to work out. You wanted Chrome/Gmail/Docs/Calendar/Play whatever and that is what costs, you agreed to anonymized tracking for those free services.

      1. Vehlin

        That's not how GDPR works tho. You if you require the user to consent to tracking in order to use your service then consent has not been freely given. They're free to charge for their service, but they can't make use of it conditional on agreeing to be tracked.

    2. ratfox Silver badge

      Logically, considering how cutthroat the competition is between phone makers, this might well have been reflected on the price of the phones. So you can send Google a thank you note for your phones having been cheaper than iPhones.

  8. bazza Silver badge

    Monopolist Often Don't...

    ...Give up their monopolist positions voluntarily. They have to be compelled. And eventually, even slow moving outfits like the US government get their act together to do something substantive (the EU is like greased lightning in comparison...).

    There are exceptions. IBM managed to avoid it, basically by being very keen to demonstrate how good a corporate citizen they were, back in the 1970s. IBM was then very different to the company we see today.

    Google seems to have no such intention. What Google don't seem to realise is that there's a fine line to tread when operating a near monopoly, otherwise corporate breakup is inevitable. Instead they seem hell bent on antagonising regulators, and even the US politicians are beginning to make grumbling noises. They are not operating an effective long term strategy.

    But then again Google's management has never been good at strategy, with their one track mind on how they operate. Their Android strategy has been woeful (China, updates?). Their services strategy has also underperformed (China again). It's going to take some imagination to survive intact, and I don't think they've got it. This is the price they're paying for their skewed corporate constitution, whereby wiser more experienced investors can inject management wisdom by influencing the board's composition. Instead the voting rights distribution amongst shares is guaranteeing that the management will drive the company off a cliff edge.

    The UK's Digital Services tax could be the sort of thing that breaks the company too, if the idea spreads. It's easy for other countries to copy it, and 2% can be easily scaled up. And they cannot avoid it because it's based on taxing something that can be measured externally; the ads they display. And the tax man can always compel their customers to disclose how much money they've sent Google's way too. Basically playing an under-reporting game with such a tax could be criminally dangerous.

    As things are I see nothing to suggest Google is going to be a consistent cash cow, like Microsoft are. MS out-earned Google by more than 3:1 last quarter. Google are going to fail, unless they face up to the fact that everyone will one day be fed up with them and will be prepared to break them up and tax them into the ground.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Monopolist Often Don't...

      Oops; looked up wrong figures for MS and Google quarterly revenues. Google out-earned Microsoft. Still, MS makes profits setlling things to users, and that's a consistently good business model. How come dusty old MS are competing effectively against hot, young and thrusting Google when it comes to cloud services provision?

      Google don't sell things to users very well, almost refusing to do such a thing. We'll probably look back on that as a strange kind of blindness.

      1. ratfox Silver badge

        Re: Monopolist Often Don't...

        MS makes profits selling things to users, and that's a consistently good business model.

        I think you mean, MS makes profits selling things to businesses. This is the area where they have a huge advantage over Google, whose business offerings are often lacking.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Monopolist Often Don't...

        Not sure about your numbers, to me it seems as if MSFT out-earned GOOG by 2-1 in Q4 2018 (1,13$/share for 7.767 billion shares vs. 13$/share for 350 million shares ?).

        Anyway, with actively trying to push all their users to the cloud Microsoft themselves don't seem to have too much faith in that supposedly "consistently good business model" of "selling things to users".

        Although in reality, one could debate wether they haven't always just been selling "services". The number of actual _things_ that Microsoft sells seems rather negligible, it's always made its profits from selling licenses, i.e. use rights, at apparently arbitrarily set prices.

        As for their competitiveness in the cloud: it is obviously largely based on their near-monopoly in the Office application market and the accompanying server and desktop OS infrastructure.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missed the plot

    Not so surprising as Google is built around an advertising machine, and this machine helps app developers monetise their apps.

    There are alternative providers for search and ads. For services there are none and they are all folded into the Google Play Services now.

    Google Play services is the only means of getting push notifications without massively sacrificing battery life. It is also the only means of getting notifications past censors, firewalls, restrictions and other wonderful "spanners in the works" - as the Telegram case has proven.

    In fact, it will be interesting to revisit that one with a proper technical article on what it provided in that case, because it is _THAT_ which needs to be separated as a monopoly remedy.

    Dare to bite the hand that feeds you El Reg?

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