back to article Google: If you think we're bad, you should take a look at Apple

Google has responded to the European Commission's complaint that it is abusing its market power with the Android mobile phone operating system by griping that Microsoft and Apple are worse. The ad and search giant points out in a neat animated GIF that of the 39 bundled apps on an iPhone, all 39 of them stem from Apple; on a …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    but lovely Google only has 11 of the 38 pre-installed apps on a Galaxy S7.

    That is because Samsung loads a boatload of trash which desperately tries and FAILS to compete with stock Google apps which it MUST include and must position in the correct places in the UI as mandated by its OEM license. If the platform was indeed "open" and "free" as Google tries to claim it would have been _ALLOWED_ to replace the stock ones.

    While some of the failures are based on merit (Samsung software sucks bricks), the mandatory positioning would have precluded fair competition even if there was merit in the first place.

    The comparison is doubly disingenuous as Google is comparing a third party phone to "native phones". The correct comparison there would have been iPhone to Lumia to Pixel which surprise, surprise results in a 100%/100%/100% gif.

    Alternatively, we can compare a Windows phone by let's say LG or HTC to an android phone by same HTC. We will find that the stock to vendor apps ratio is not any different. So, if anything, this proves that all of the usual suspects are massively abusing their monopoly here (same as MSFT did 15 years ago vs Netscape) so this is actually an open-and-shut case. The old Netscape ruling applies - it finds that the "mandatory positioning of apps on desktop as prescribed by the late 90-es Windows OEM agreement" is anti-competitive. Google is literally doing the same, it should stop wining and prepare to open the wallet (if it does not want a mandatory break-up order).

    1. David 164

      Google does allow companies to replace stock apps but it a all or nothing deal.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But all or nothing is still a choice, amazons fire range of devices spring to mind...

        Its a stupid argument if you ask me, its not like the days of internet explorer, you can disable say chrome or gmail if you wish, if you root you could also remove... IE was baked into the os.

        IE would also frequently set its self back to being the dault browser every time it could, none of the google android apps do this.

        Google is right, look at apple, at least on android you still have a choice of disabling and alternatives... Its actually against apples market rules to create a product in direct compertition...

  2. Mage Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Market Dominance

    If you have 0.5% or even 12% does a regulator care, compared to a Gorilla with over 80%?

    Aside from the fact that Apple doesn't force any other maker to take their Apps and MS phones are irrelevant in the market.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Market Dominance

      "Aside from the fact that Apple doesn't force any other maker to take their Apps "

      ...and Google doesn't force any other maker to use Android

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Google doesn't force any other maker to use Android

        MS never forced anyone to bundle Windows with pcs.

        But like Google they made sure that if you did use Windows you also had a load of other MS apps...

        Which is what this whole case is about!

        1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Never?

          Back when I was a PFY, the way to buy a PC without Windows was to buy the components and bolt them together yourself. There was progress over the years, with some small distributors selling blank pre-assembled machines, but if you had the technical skill to understand the value and find the distributor then you had the skill to assemble a PC. The full details of the deal between the big PC distributors and Microsoft is secret. It could have included 100% Windows bundling or else, but a simpler explanation was the hardware+windows was sold below cost, the difference was made up with crapware and the profit came from the commission on MS Office - neither of which were available for Linux.

          That was less true with laptops. The EOMs paid for Windows on all laptops. It was just about possible to buy a laptop without Windows, but the EOM, distributor and customer all paid for an unused Windows License. This caused seething hatred from Penguinistas - easily 10milliTrumps. The first mainstream Linux small cheap computers arrived at CeBIT, and on the first day they were packed up and taken away without explanation. The popular assumption at the time was that Microsoft threatened the manufacturer with expensive Windows licenses. (The standard anti-trust dodge was a price hike for all, and "marketing support" for "qualifying partners").

          It is remotely possible that you are technically correct about PCs, but there is no way you will ever convince grey beards that Microsoft could not at one time effectively insist on Windows Tax on all laptops. The deals are still secret, but a more modern version probably involves software patents (spit) that are just as valid as SCO's claims, but are the cost of getting Windows for the same price that competitors pay.

          After years of farting about, the EU did get Microsoft to offer (defective expensive) documentation for SMB. They did get Microsoft to add a browser selection dialog box (but no refund if you did not pick IE). There were some hefty fines, which either reduced taxes or increased budgets in the EU (probably a bit of both). Changes in the computer industry did not come from EU court decisions. A competitive product became available before the courts got half way to a verdict (and the sentences were either irrelevant or ignored for years).

          Phone manufacturers are well aware that an EU judgement + enforcement would take at least a decade and would be meaningless five years before anything happened. If Samsung had a problem with Android, they would sell Tizen phones. The other big manufacturers have something similar and the smaller ones could license Tizen. The EU are welcome to investigate, and perhaps they will find something that eventually provides some financial benefit to EU tax payers. Don't hold your breathe.

        2. asdf Silver badge

          Re: Google doesn't force any other maker to use Android

          >MS never forced anyone to bundle Windows with pcs.

          What? MS did too (at least charged for the license whether it was bundled or not) and was found guilty of it by a court of law. They were basically at one time charging the tier 1 manufacturers a windows license for every PC they sold regardless if had Windows on it or not. If they said anything about it (including threats during the court case) Microsoft would threaten to jack up the cost of the license or not sale any at all.

      2. David 164

        Re: Market Dominance

        An it doesn't force them to install any of their apps either. As proven by Amazon, hardware makers have the right to fault android and avoid installing any of Google apps.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: Market Dominance

          @David164,

          And it doesn't force them to install any of their apps either. As proven by Amazon, hardware makers have the right to default android and avoid installing any of Google apps.

          You're forgetting the role of Google Play Services. Android app writers are forced to write their apps to use these services if the want access to things like mapping, messaging, etc on mainstream Android. Google do not open source Google Play Services. So they're not on Amazon's version of Android.

          So App developers are limited in what their app can achieve if they want to target both Google's version of Android and Amazon's without having two separate code bases. So guess what; the app developers target their software for Google's version of Android with Play Services, because that had the biggest market share.

          And because Apps are reliant on Google Play Services, the phone manufacturers have to succumb to Google's terms and conditions if they want to make a phone that is marketable.

          This strategy has worked very well for Google, but it backfired in China. Baidu was big enough and quick enough to be able to displace Google's Play Services with their own equivalent. There's 1billion+ Android users in China, non of whom are paying into Google's coffers by using Google's services. It's backfiring for Apple too - incompatibility with Baidu's services is becoming a market killer in China, no matter how shiny your phone is. In many ways Baidu have outstripped Google's services, for example offering payment systems that work widely long before Google Pay.

    2. Gio Ciampa

      Re: Market Dominance

      Go try releasing your own version of iOS ... see how far you get

  3. Steve Todd

    Do they still not understand

    That market dominance is the important factor here. You can do what you want (within limits) providing you don't hold a dominant position in the market. The moment you do additional rules apply. Since Google have a 75% market share in Europe those rules apply to them.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Do they still not understand

      Well, yes but there's no doubt that Apple's policies — the App Store, no other browser engine, etc. — are uncompetitive. But that's irrelevant in this investigation.

      I've no doubt that Google and the European Commission will come to some kind of agreement not least because the alternatives are possibly worse. And Google is also essential in improving the security for all Android phones.

      At some point Google may well be happy to relinquish some parts of the value chain as long as it maintains its dominance elsewhere, particularly advertising: GMail is more of gateway product for its enterprise suite; consumers are moving towards messaging platforms and Google wants to be in the AI services game, where again the consumer gets to beta test stuff. We haven't much about recently about Google's push into enterprise but they seem to be following the slow and steady route: Calendar recently told me it can book rooms for people and is getting to be a better and better secretary that I would happily use.

  4. Geoff Campbell

    Point of order...

    The Play Store is not the only place to get apps for Android devices. Other curated stores are available, notably Amazon's. Those who are feeling brave do not need to use a store at all, but I wouldn't personally recommend that unless you feel you have too much spare time on your hands.

    GJC

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Point of order...

      Internet Explorer was not the only Browser and look what happened there.

      1. Geoff Campbell

        Re: Point of order...

        Oh, it all turned out well enough in the end...

        GJC

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Point of order...

        "Internet Explorer was not the only Browser and look what happened there."

        But android manufacturers don't have to include Google Play, if they do, they have to include the google apps... that is the point here I think...

    2. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Point of order...

      >Those who are feeling brave do not need to use a store at all

      Or simply use only F-Droid (whether considered store or not up to you) and be safer than using the Play Store which has plenty of malware still as well.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    What?

    "Plus, it says with wide puppy-dog eyes, bundling its other products with the app store means that it can give people everything for free."

    Bullshit.

    They could just allow Play to be installed, then let people choose to download the rest.

    I'd still download some stuff, but the other crap, such as hangouts that I never use, can do one.

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: What?

      Yes, what they really mean is:

      "Plus, it says with wide puppy-dog eyes, bundling its other products with the app increases the likelihood that people will use those instead of alternatives, which in turn increases their ability to track every possible thing the users do, and it is that valuable data that means that it can give people everything for free."

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: What?

      Hangouts has been replaced by Allo and Duo for consumers and now a conferencing system. I've never had much problem disabling the builtin apps. It's a bit annoying but it's not as bad as the lock-in that MS was trying with IE and MediaPlayer and at least they stay disabled, unlike some of the other bloatware provided by the vendor, which has to be the biggest motivation to go CM.

      I already use https://apkpure.com to sideload stuff that Play thinks I shouldn't have because my phone is in the wrong place. Installing from other stores does carry a risk which is why Google is covering its ass by disabling this by default.

      I'm sure Google would be quite happy to get out of the app store business and concentrate on selling media (films, tv and music) to consumers and advertising to developers, which is why its driving the PWA stuff.

    3. Gio Ciampa

      Re: What?

      "They could just allow Play to be installed, then let people choose to download the rest."

      You mean like this?

      https://github.com/opengapps/opengapps/wiki/Pico-Package

      "This package is designed for users who want the absolute minimum GApps installation available. In this package you will find the core Google system base, Google Android Shared Services, Google Play Store, Google Calendar Sync, Dialer Framework and the following Play Store applications:

      Google Package Installer (replaces stock/AOSP Package Installer)

      Google Play services

      For 6.0 also:

      Google Text-to-Speech"

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've had a Windows phone and most of the WP builtin apps were general purpose apps rather than "deep tracking" apps. You could also control which app gets which access which isn't possible in Android.(the WP OS of course tracks as much as Google but that's a different topic). Never had an iPhone.

    The relation between Google and Trump probably not gonna be so bad. They have an important policy in common, both are very hard-line anti-Muslim.

    Hope this will make them friend than nemesis. :-)

    1. ratfox Silver badge
      WTF?

      Google is very hard-line anti-Muslim? Since when?

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Looks like the 10 kopek brigade has been given new instructions…

    2. dajames Silver badge

      You could also control which app gets which access which isn't possible in Android.

      I believe that is possibly in certain near-mythical versions of Android that most people's devices aren't new enough to run.

      So, it's not a failure of Android per se but a failure of most Android OEMs.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They're right about Apple and MS

    but they're still (very,very big) c***ts themselves

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They're right about Apple and MS

      c***ts? So not cunts then, cos that'd be c**ts. So what are they?

      1. Erroneous Howard

        Re: They're right about Apple and MS

        Counts?

        1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Re: They're right about Apple and MS

          I think each * is supposed to represent one letter:

          $ echo $(grep '^c...nts$' /usr/share/dict/british-english-insane)

          cements chaunts clients covents

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's do a substitution here.

    I've only killed one person, those people over there have killed more than me. Mmm... that one would work too.

    Tossers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's do a substitution here.

      Yep, sheer Whataboutism

  9. Jess

    The thing I hate about bundled apps

    isn't that they are there, it is that they are not easy to remove like apps you add yourself.

    If they were simply pre-installed and not system apps then all would be fine. (The same goes for manufacturer crap too)

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The thing I hate about bundled apps

      No, it wouldn't, because a lot of users would just use what was on the phone when they got it.

      Android should have to have a choice screen for each bundled app listing some popular alternatives (and a few left field ones no-ones ever heard of). Sauce for the goose and all that....

  10. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Apple and supplied Apps

    didn't Apple allow you to remove some/most of the supplied apps with IOS10?

    Apple does not enforce screen positioning either.

    On my ancient iPhone 5S all the Apple supplied apps I don't use are consigned to a third screen. When I get round to updating to IOS10 I might try to remove the apple Mail App because it is (like Itunes) a POS. I have to use iTunes because I backup locally and not to iCloud. Other than that it does not get used.

    Anyway, as others have said, Google (in the shape of Android) has the majority of the market. Apple despite being bastards of the highest order in many things are not a market leader/monopoly player.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Apple and supplied Apps

      Try replacing one of the key apps, such as the browser, with one from another developer. Apple is extremely anti-competitive and it also works very hard to convince its customers that they don't want anything else.

    2. wikkity

      Re: Apple does not enforce screen positioning either.

      No one else can sell ios devices so there is no one to enforce. Android users are free to move the app form the initial position.

  11. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Pixel???

    "Google only has 11 of the 38 pre-installed apps on a Galaxy S7"

    ... and how many on the new Pixel phone? You can't compare a the case of a company that's providing their software on their hardware and your own company's software pre-installed on third-party hardware.

    What's the percentage of Google apps on their own phone?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pixel???

      If 75% of the smartphone market (sorry, nearly 100% in the licensable smart mobile operating system market) was Pixel phones, you might have a point. Like it or not, the Galaxy S7 is one of the market leading devices, and is a rather more common case study of what consumers actually end up with than Pixel will ever be, and therefore a valid representation of what the actual consumer effect of Google's policies is.

      On the other hand iPhones and their brethren are 100% of the iOS market, and Lumia is near as dammit 100% of the WinPho market. The comparison is therefore valid, if slightly irrelevant to the competition abuses they've actually been accused of.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "To ignore competition with Apple," writes Walker, "is to miss the defining feature of today’s competitive smartphone landscape."

    They really do have a point here, though the reason the EU cherry picked the playing field as a monopoly in "licensable smart mobile operating systems" may have been to leave open the possibility of going after Apple having a monopoly in "non-licensable smart mobile operating systems". I'll believe that when I see them taking action against Apple though, and even then it'll just be a thinly disguised way to take a 75%/25% market and treat is as two separate 100% monopolies held by eeevil american corporations (I'm ignoring the alternatives as rounding errors, no offence meant WinPho and blackberry users...). This is veering towards trade-war sabre rattling of a type that would make Donald Trump proud (though of course Trump would decry it in this specific instance because it's anti-US, not pro-US).

    If we take the historic case about MS bundling the browser in their OS, the equivalent enforcement action for Android would be to force Google to present smartphone users with a ballot screen asking them which browser, map application, etc. etc. they want to use during first setup of the phone. I'm not sure this would be helpful, as it would just lead to even more bloat being inflicted on european smartphone user's handsets. Alternatively they could go much further, and insist that Google provide an alternate version of their OS without *any* of the google apps. This already exists - AOSP - so there is an argument that on this basis alone there isn't a case to answer for here. The fact that none of the main smartphone manufacturers uses this as the base for their products is on them, not on Google. If someone wanted to make a better Android they could fork the AOSP code and make one today - Google isn't stopping them. Amazon already have created their own version on their fire devices, though it's clear that the result ended up even more anti-competitive (in it's own narrow area) than the Google version of Android.

    I don't see Google backing down on this, the apps are Google's IP, and it's going to be very hard to force them to separate out individual services from what they are clearly intent on keeping as a single blob. The way the EU are going, all we will be able to buy in the EU will be AOSP devices, which will then need manual intervention by users to download the entire Google application blob themselves if they want it. This won't be good result for anyone (except perhaps Apple, assuming they haven't been smacked by similar measures by then).

    This all strikes me as a massive waste of EU time and energy, of the sort that allowed Brexit to gain such traction with the masses in the UK. Why can't they just stick to hammering google for abusing their dominance in search engines to lever into other markets (maps, price comparison)?

  13. whoseyourdaddy

    Just think it's payback Asia and Apple took over this market and relegated the GSM Cartel(Nokia, Ericsson, Alcatel, Siemens) to the history books.

    Maybe Google wants you to think your phone is different yet the same?

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