back to article Sure, Europe. Here's our Android suite without Search, Chrome apps. Now pay the Google tax

In an effort to placate Europe's regulators furious at its anticompetitive tactics, Google has overhauled its Android licensing practices for the continent. And it involves paying the ad giant money. In short, Google's Search App and Chrome browser are being unbundled from the rest of the the Chocolate Factory's suite of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or the fourth option...

    Whilst I understand the regulators motivation here, what if Google had just said, "Sod it, we won't license Android for use in the EU."

    What would the regulators do then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Or the fourth option...

      buy shares in apple.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Or the fourth option...

        buy shares in apple.

        Sure, because once this is through there is no chance that a similar case could be brought against Apple for restrictive practice…

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Or the fourth option...

          First Apple would have to achieve a dominant share in some sort of market. Having a dominant share in "browser engines for the iPhone" or similar is not something regulators can do anything about.

          The reason they are taking this action against Google is because they have dominant positions in several markets - search, advertising, and mobile OS and leverage them against each other to reinforce their market positions. Apple has a mobile market share somewhere in the teens, a mobile app store market share of similar size, an even smaller market share for browsers, and 0% market share for search and for advertising. They don't have a dominant share in anything.

          1. Confused Vorlon

            Re: Re: Just another attempt

            > First Apple would have to achieve a dominant share in some sort of market.

            they currently have a controlling share in anything which has to work cross-platform.

            e.g. chat apps.

            They recently used this to block a chat app that had animoji-style face-mask chatting saying that it was similar to what apple offered.

            https://www.rbth.com/science-and-tech/329090-emoji-monopoly-apple-rejects-app

            even if you take this at face value; They're saying that nobody is allowed to build a cross-platform animoji-style chat platform.

            (facetime is apple-only, so even if the functionality was similar; being able to use it across devices would be a significant difference)

            not sure how the legal wrangling would play out - but this is a clear case of where the iPhone lock-up can impact the whole ecosystem.

            1. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: Just another attempt

              "they currently have a controlling share in anything which has to work cross-platform.

              e.g. chat apps."

              They do? I think the dominant chat app is WhatsApp right now, which isn't an Apple product.

              However, the point that DougS was making was that iPhones themselves don't have enough market dominance to allow them to be considered a monopoly. If there's no monopoly, then there can't be an abuse of monopoly -- so whatever Apple wants to do in terms of dictating what is or is not allowed to exist on iOS is unimportant in terms of this aspect of the law.

              1. old Steveo

                Re: Just another attempt

                Ummm...forgetting China where we had has 800m plus users?

              2. Trenjeska
                Alert

                Re: Just another attempt

                Whatsapp is NOT cross-platform.

                It doesn't work on Desktops.

                (requiring a mobe to work in a browser or in an excuse for a desktop program, does not equal 'working' on a Desktop)

                Really, ICQ seems to be the only decent IM application/protocol left nowadays as Skype is going to hell. Time to unbury my UIN...

            2. DougS Silver badge

              Re: Just another attempt

              Apple is simply not allowing that Russian chat app on their App Store. There is nothing stopping the authors from offering it on the Google Play Store for Android.

              Apple doesn't have a dominant share in app stores, and no country has laws against a company being able to restrict what it offers in their own store. If I want to sell my widget on Amazon, and contact them but they say "no thank you, we already have widgets and don't need another" I can't go whining to the FTC or EU competition authority because Amazon doesn't have a dominant share in online stores - let alone stores in general when you include both online and brick-and-mortar. Though I'm sure that's their ultimate goal - if they ever achieve it then they will experience problems like those Google is enduring.

        2. jeffroimms

          Re: Or the fourth option...

          unfortunately... and I am no Apple lover (have never owned one, just had to work on them), Apple is in a different position as the OWNER of its own IOS, Design Process, Hardware and its own Store. Apple provides the whole experience including diagnostics and high street level hardware support solutions (no it isn't perfect - but as a long time PC(MS), Android and LINUX user I can say OUR (tech) industry needs this level of assistance for our less capable brothers and sisters - hense its (Apple) success!

    2. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: Or the fourth option...

      I suspect that it would be very easy for regulators to do nothing. There's a billion Android phones in China that don't have Google, and it wouldn't take that much time to build replacements. Of course, users would complain and companies would lose money, but they would all blame Google. And then Google would lose the market.

      Google apps are good; they're often the best. But the competition does exist, and is ready to take over if they stumble.

      1. benoliver999

        Re: Or the fourth option...

        I have been running my phone without google apps and services installed since January. It started as an experiment, but I've not ever felt the need to go back.

        It's still limited to nerds for now, but if the demand were there it wouldn't take much to get it ready for the mainstream.

        If someone can get a push notification framework that doesn't rely on google, it could take off very quickly.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Or the fourth option...

          I have been running my phone without google apps and services installed since January. It started as an experiment, but I've not ever felt the need to go back.

          When I deGoogled a previous phone,1 the only thing I had trouble with was finding a calendar app that would work without access to the Google calendar service. I didn't want one that sync'd with anything, just something that would show a valid calendar and let me note things in it. None of the ones I downloaded off F-Droid, including supposedly "offline" ones, worked with the Google calendar service disabled.

          So I just created notes for appointments, and transcribed them into my work calendar whenever I got around to it. Worked OK. Back in the Dark Ages we used to do the same thing with pen & paper.

          1Which I'd still be using, if the screen hadn't spontaneously failed completely. Replacement phone didn't last long enough for me to get around to deGoogling it; the touchscreen stopped responding to touches less than a year after I bought it. Haven't even gotten around to rooting the current phone, and I'm not sure I want to take the time, because these things are crap that breaks far too quickly. (My Nokia Symbian 6 phone worked fine for 3 years, and still works when I need it as an emergency backup, though the battery life is rubbish and there are few dead pixels on the screen. None of the Android phones I've had have made it past the 2-year mark.)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Or the fourth option...

        "There's a billion Android phones in China that don't have Google, and it wouldn't take that much time to build replacements."

        The chances are that those replacements wouldn't get security patches pushed to them and the multitude of "stores" that supported them would be fragmented and not policed for security issues. It's not a good scenario.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Or the fourth option...

          "There's a billion Android phones in China that don't have Google, and it wouldn't take that much time to build replacements."

          The chances are that those replacements wouldn't get security patches pushed to them

          Of course they would.

          Oh, hang on. Did you mean patches to improve security?

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Or the fourth option...

          "The chances are that those replacements wouldn't get security patches pushed to them"

          Most user of Android phone are lucky to get one update, if any, even from new.

          1. Kernel Silver badge

            Re: Or the fourth option...

            "Most user of Android phone are lucky to get one update, if any, even from new."

            Things are slowly starting to change - all three Nokias in our house have had 10 updates so far this year and I anticipate at least another one, if not two before the end of the year (the December update will probably arrive mid-Janurary).

        3. therealmav

          Re: Or the fourth option...

          The chances are that those replacements wouldn't get security patches pushed to them and the multitude of "stores" that supported them would be fragmented and not policed for security issues. It's not a good scenario.

          Im sure the owners of Samsung devices will miss the regular and timely security updates

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Or the fourth option...

            Im sure the owners of Samsung devices will miss the regular and timely security updates

            Miss what, now? Neither of my Samsung Android phones have ever received "regular and timely security updates". Rare and apparently random updates, perhaps.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Or the fourth option...

          "...and the multitude of "stores" that supported them would be fragmented..."

          that is called freedom! You can't have ONE store and then blame them afterwards for having a monopoly, doh! This is again a half baked Euro-fine in which eventually nobody really knows where this €4.34bn euro went to.

          Besides there's ASOP Android so if the majority of handset-manufacturers decides NOT to use ASOP then don't blame google for their position. And the Chinese have been building Android phones without Google-services for ages. Besides why can't google just sell their app-suite as a side-loadable apk? What's the big deal anyway?

          I always ask myself, these politicians hand out fines like cookies yet we, Euro-citizens, never know what happens with all that money? I find that more worrying than Google's monopoly. Because in the case of Google we KNOW where that money is going to. In the case of damn politicians we have absolutely no clue!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Or the fourth option...

            "You can't have ONE store and then blame them afterwards for having a monopoly, doh!"

            _Abuse of monopoly_, not just monopoly. When the store owner makes it mandatory to have an account in the store in order to get security patches for your phone and bricks your phone if you try to use other shops, it's obviously abuse.

            Reality is that it isn't only shop, it's only the only _Google approved_ shop, just because they own it.

            That's abuse of monopoly, very obviously: Android provider (Google in this case) has no business to tell me what shops I may or may not use.

            Even less making it mandatory to use Googles own.

            1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

              Re: Or the fourth option...

              > _Abuse of monopoly_, not just monopoly. When the store owner makes it mandatory to have an account in the store in order to get security patches for your phone and bricks your phone if you try to use other shops, it's obviously abuse.

              I get it. You hate Google with a passion and probably love Microsoft (is that you TheVogon?) and resent Windows Phone being a complete failure.

              But there is no need to just make stuff up: "bricks your phone if you try to use other shops". Bullshit!! Using F-Droid does not brick your Android.

              > Reality is that it isn't only shop, it's only the only _Google approved_ shop, just because they own it.

              Why would they approve a shop that they don't control and therefore have no information about ?

        5. cream wobbly

          Re: Or the fourth option...

          The chances are that those replacements wouldn't get security patches pushed to them and the multitude of "stores" that supported them would be fragmented and not policed for security issues. It's not a good scenario.

          Let's all play Fantasy FUD!

          The chances are that those replacements would only run on the Commodore Plus/4 and you'd have to run Mastertronic games on them and they didn't even have security in the 80s so it's not a good scenario.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Or the fourth option...

        Google apps are good; they're often the best.

        Not the email client, at least not for abg (anything but Google). Its IMAP support is as basic as it gets, doesn't even support aliasing.

      4. enormous c word

        Re: Or the fourth option...

        The regulators are solving a problem that doesnt exist for people who mostly dont care - as consumers if you dont like what google are doing by an iPhone or non-android phone, if you're a techy user replace with CyanogenMod or LineageOS or some other non google-android, if you're really anti data-slurping - buy a feature phone and enjoy days of battery life. If you're a manufacturer use one of the dozen or so Android forks that are out there.

        Seriously - this just the EU regulators trying to show that their unelected government has teeth. Better to stop twatting about and recover the vast sums of TAX that google/amazon/Starbucks etc find ways of not paying.

      5. Zolko

        Re: Or the fourth option...

        @ratfox: Google apps are good; they're often the best

        no, they are crap. I don't use any Google app (actually, I do use 1 app from them: the calendar, but I use it with external calendars, synced with DavDroid)

        - for maps I use OsmAnd+

        - for mail I use AquaMail

        - as browser I use Opera

        - as market I have FDroid (but use GooglePlay also)

        - for search I use Qwant (or DuckDuckGo, depends)

        - ...

        I would take a Google-free Android if I could, and would even be willing to pay for it.

        1. cream wobbly

          Re: Or the fourth option...

          Funnily enough, I use the googly calendar because my family does. They can see events I create.

          I can't see events I create. On my own calendar. On the same app I created them in.

          Google Maps is fine for the rare occasions I use it.

          Gmail is just where the spam arrives.

          Chrome plays spam movies, because the control for not autoplaying videos doesn't work. It's generally crap, but so is the web now, so it's the best tool for the job and the backend is already installed by default anyway.

          Everything that's broken has been broken for as long as I've been using Android. It basically reduces my phone to... well, a phone. And a camera. A crap, grainy, non-focusing one that doesn't even come with a lens cap so it gets all smudgy! Can you believe it? A camera. Without a lens cap. And people actually buy this crap for it having a camera!

      6. xanda

        Re: Or the fourth option...

        "...the competition does exist, and is ready to take over if they stumble.''

        Not sure that's true even though we wish it was.

        Mobile has essentially been a two-horse race between Android and Apple for quite some time now. Either punters can empty their pockets and pay the Apple tax for a quality experience or they can take their chances on the roulette wheel that is Android - at any given price point.

        Although we hate the iPhone there's no doubt it wins hands-down in many ways over Android. That said though, both fail to offer a satisfying experience with each hurting their customers in unique ways.

        We wish for something else badly but have to use a so-called smartphone because there is no viable alternative. Even the basic form of these devices is an exercise in dull conformity: a 'one-size fits all' that fails to please a great many.

        Besides, given the maturity of the technology and the industry's continued push towards services as its main bread and butter, isn't it about time the whole hardware/software realm was opened and freed up? After all, other industries aren't encumbered by such things in order to survive: for example, the last time we looked the construction industry didn't seem to be paying patent royalties on bricks and cement...

    3. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Or the fourth option...

      This is always brought up about such things.

      The regulators really wouldn't care very much. They get paid either way. And they can claim it's "opening up the market" (which is what you want such regulators to do, really, isn't it?). Also, every Google competitor will jump behind them and claim that they were just protecting "the small guy" and love them for it.

      The biggest answer really is "Would you like to lose 50% of your revenue from one of the largest markets in the world?" Often the answer is no. Because people forget that annoying the EU has major ramifications for any international company, because it's often the second biggest market they trade in, if not the first. Nobody's stupid enough to throw away 50% of their worldwide revenue for the sake of a bit of legal work. Did you see company's responses to GDPR? Even US-only companies were diving for cover.

    4. chivo243 Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Or the fourth option...

      Use what ever browser is default to get gmail on the web? Or am I showing my lack of Android knowledge here?

    5. Remy Redert

      Re: Or the fourth option...

      You mean the Google apps, which is what they license. Android itself is a combination of a patched Linux kernel and a bunch of stuff attached to that. Google does not own the license for most of that and playing games by restricting those licenses by location might result in things like contributors pulling their code on short notice and leaving core Android dead in the water.

      So regardless of what Googles decides, Android phones wouldn't be going away, they'd just stop being Googly all of a sudden.

    6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Or the fourth option...

      "Sod it, we won't license Android for use in the EU."

      This is a silly strawman: AOSP is already out there and won't be going away. Not sure that such a restriction would stand up in court, but it's irrelevant. Google has, however, been moving components, including OS updates to Play Services and there is not yet a reliable replacement for this yet. A marketplace might be interesting but, of course, API compatbility would be crucial.

      I think Google might stand to benefit from competition here, it does provide some top-class services and I can see an advantage in getting out of as much direct interaction with consumers as possible: don't run the app store but provide the infrastructure (including code checking) for one.

      1. Manu T

        Re: Or the fourth option...

        "...Google has, however, been moving components, including OS updates to Play Services and there is not yet a reliable replacement for this yet...."

        They did that to stop manufacturers from circumventing Google's apps and services. In that respect the EU is correct to tap on their fingers! On the other hand if those stupid politicians sponsored true EU-developped phone OS's a bit more then we wouldn't need that goddamn Android!

        There was Symbian, Meego, Sailfish OS etc... All of those could have been pushed as the primary phone OS in Europe. The latter 2 can even run certain Android apk's. But they blew it like they always do. And when the ship has sunk then they wake up. Now when every jackshit-phone is running Android THEN they complain! F... idiots!

    7. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Or the fourth option...

      "What would the regulators do then?"

      Nothing other than get the popcorn out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Or the fourth option...

        Naah that's what we at El Reg do.

        You bring the crisps, I'll get the beer ;-)

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Or the fourth option...

      And so far, 13 people have downvoted this rhetorical question.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Or the fourth option...

      Whilst I understand the regulators motivation here, what if Google had just said, "Sod it, we won't license Android for use in the EU." What would the regulators do then?

      Triple the fine, or gently remind Google that there's also a GDPR problem coming their way. If they really try to be cute here, the EU could be cute too by suggesting that the GDPR people need to set an extra example by going for the full 4% of turnover.

      I think I need to go and stock up on popcorn..

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Or the fourth option...

      This essentially will turn into Windows 7 N edition....

      A totally pointless offering that nobody wants, but keeps regulators happy...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Android partners wishing to distribute Google apps may also build non-compatible, or forked, smartphones and tablets for the European Economic Area (EEA).

    You mean they still can't sell those phones outside of Europe? Hmmmm... Google really doesn't like competition.

    1. fuzzie

      "Android partners wishing to distribute Google apps may also build non-compatible, or forked, smartphones and tablets [snip]"

      Such pathetically passive aggressive language there. I'd be pretty peeved at that attitude if I were the Competition Commissioner.

      A pity it doesn't require them to make everything else also optional. I realise much is tied to Google Play Services and it might even make sense for them to make that, or access to the Play Store, the one paid-for item due to the real value it adds. But I'm sure Google knows very well it's crucial to keep users tied to the Play Store. They don't want more Valves.

      1. Graham Cobb

        I don't think it is intended as passive aggressive language. Currently vendors wishing to distribute Google apps are specifically prevented (by their licence agreement) to also offer non-compatible, or forked, smartphones and tablets.

        One of the Competition Commission requirements is to remove that restriction. That is a good thing, so vendors can freely decide whether they want to have two lines of phones, one with Google apps and one with a forked OS that works without Google apps (to compete with Apple -- presumably at a similarly premium price).

  3. T0G

    Prefer to use Firefox Focus and Duckduckgo anyway so I hope manufacturers offer the cheaper option of buying their phones without them.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      At the moment, Android phones are cheaper because Google don't charge for all the other bits that they bundle with their money-makers (Search and Chrome). A phone with FF and DDG instead would be more expensive because Google would be charging a licence fee for the other apps, and most importantly, the Play Store. Of course, you could have a phone without those and side-load all your apps. Most users aren't going to want something that doesn't just "work out of the box" though, or which uses a third-party app store that has nothing in it but tumbleweed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Most users aren't going to want something that doesn't just "work out of the box""

        Semi-true: Totally depends on the price and the intended function of the phone.

        Outside of teenagers, most of the software in any Android is just totally unnecessary spyware.

        What you need to have is a phone, text messaging, a camera and possibly navigation and email. The rest? Unnecessary crap.

        Outside of the phone, none of those need to be on-line all the time but somehow disconnecting Android from data/GPS is very, very difficult.

        Obviously on purpose: Spying _must_ roll in real-time.

  4. Refugee from Windows

    Ignore and continue as usual

    The ad revenue, even if it's undeliverable, is too much of an incentive for them to leave these out of Android. Neither would Google want to be seen to lose significant market share. The commercial plan is to make sure that the competition doesn't grow significantly. Other browsers, mail clients and mapping services are available, but Google would like theirs to be the default on the majority of users.

    It'll be like the browser choice fiasco, they are so deeply baked into their services they can't untangle them. Lip service will be paid that's all. The slurp will continue unabated.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Ignore and continue as usual

      It depends on the Commission.

      Remember that the Commission can say that Google's response is inadequate and fine them again. So if this is seen to be taking the piss - then it will get nixed as well.

      Now normally I'd expect a major company to do its legals properly, and make sure that what it proposes meets with the relevant legislation. But this is Google we're talking about. The only reason the Commission fined them on specialist search and price comparison was that Google had proposed about 5 rememedies - all of which took the piss and didn't meet the legal requirements. And so a friendly Commission couldn't close the case - and then Juncker's Commission took over (which was much more German-influenced) and gave them a billion dollar kicking. So Google have history of being stupid.

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: Ignore and continue as usual

        "Juncker's Commission took over (which was much more German-influenced) and gave them a billion dollar kicking. So Google have history of being stupid."

        Maybe Google made more than $1bil in the time they stalled the EU... if you believe the complete bolloxs coming from the complainants they must have been minting much more.

        1. ratfox Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: Ignore and continue as usual

          According to reports, Google pays nine billion dollars to Apple, every year, just to be the default search engine on iPhones. If that is true, then a one-time fine for half that amount for whatever they did wrong with Android seems like something they would take in stride.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Ignore and continue as usual

            Plus, avoiding legal consequences is one of the jobs of corporate lawyers and bean counters. If the threat of a percentage fine looms, they'll just find a way to hide the amount that calculates the percentage, for example...

            1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

              Re: Ignore and continue as usual

              they'll just find a way to hide the amount that calculates the percentage

              Which is why GDPR, and I think fines for things like the subject of this story, can be based on global turnover - not profits, not profits in a specific subsidiary, but global turnover of the group.

              While it's easy to move money around (the typical trick being to pay "brand licence fees" to a parent so that you make no profits) - it's impossible to hide turnover.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ignore and continue as usual

        " So Google have history of being stupid."

        No, they are just so greedy that they rather pay fines several times over than change their politics.

        When you make 30% profit from your revenue, 4% is nothing, so they don't give a f**k.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Ignore and continue as usual

      It'll be like the browser choice fiasco

      What's Internet Explorer's market share again? This, and even more the unbundling of the media player from Windows did provide the framework for more consumer choice. Otherwise by now most online video would probably be DRM'd WMV or MOV.

      The judgement doesn't have to mean the demise of Google, just as the ruling against Microsoft meant the demise of MS; in fact it's earning more than ever and that's despite fucking up mobile internet completely.

      So, what we need are more rulings against such vertical integration. Roll on alternative app stores, music players and browsers for IOS devices…

  5. yosemite

    Chaos

    Forked versions of Android? A dozen different Play Stores from manufacturers? Incompatible apps? What could possibly go wrong...

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Chaos

      It would just look more like Linux....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chaos

      I don't understand. Access to the play store is always free. That doesn't mean its contents are free. Why would Google lock out a few hundred million potential app buyers ? They make money on every sale, shirley ?

      And if some vendors want to give their app away for free, fine, but then they pay Google for the convenience of using their storefront.

      What am I missing ?

      1. fandom

        Re: Chaos

        It is not hard, the EU has told Google that giving those apps for free is anticompetetive, so now they are asking money for them.

        I case nobody remembers, Microsoft used to make a N version of windows version for the EU without IE and media player, maybe they still do, it is hard to tell because, after all, nobody ever bought it.

        Google is likely hoping the same will happen here, worse thing that will happen in Sansumg not including their apps instead of installing both theirs and Googles'.

        And besides, even if they do, instructions to install Google play in those devices will be in the internet for all to see, even with the Sansumg browser.

        Well, now that I think of it the worse thing that will happen is nerds like us will end installing it in all the family devices.

        1. TheVogon Silver badge

          Re: Chaos

          "It is not hard, the EU has told Google that giving those apps for free is anticompetetive, so now they are asking money for them."

          No, the issue was Google contractually preventing the removal of those apps or the installation of other products as a primary choice. This seems like a bit of a FU to the EU to me. And those tend to come with a very large bill attached.

        2. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Re: Chaos

          I case nobody remembers, Microsoft used to make a N version of windows version for the EU without IE and media player, maybe they still do, it is hard to tell because, after all, nobody ever bought it.

          IE and Media Player are still the No. 1 apps for all households with a trusty AOL disk.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Chaos

          "maybe they still do, it is hard to tell because, after all, nobody ever bought it."

          ... except everyone who bought a new PC in EU. Not many people at all.

      2. DavidRa

        Re: Chaos

        This feels like a "because they can" scenario. They figure the phones without Play Store will be less desirable and thus they can double/triple/quadruple charge for the service (charge the phone manufacturers for the right to put an icon on the device, charge the developers 15-30% - I can't remember the actual number - for Play Store access), and no doubt if they figure out a way to do it, charge consumers extra and possibly telcos too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Chaos

          "This feels like a "because they can" scenario."

          Because they HOPE they can. Let's see what the EU's answer will be.

          I can certainly agree for a fee to Gmail, Maps, Youtube. Why not, they're applications without direct income beside ads (I'd rather have them available optionally to the end-user to choose and pay if they want, but okay).

          Play, though? They're skimming 30% of sales there. They'll have a harder time explaining it's also a money-losing operation that has to be bundled with the others.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Chaos

            There's no problem with charging for it. And the EC could care less. The main problem was preventing licensees (who got a licens gratis) from picking and choosing what they liked and also from building or bundling competing apps.

            Starting Oct 29, those restrictions will lapse. OEMs will be free to do as they please, but if they want the Google apps, the gratis option is gone. This complies with the ruling. Since Google is losing the ability to force bundling and restrict competition, they are looking to offset the potential loss of revenue by charging an upfront fee, banking on the near necessity of their services.

            Surely you're not asking for Google to be forced to give away their apps for free.

        2. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Chaos

          "They figure the phones without Play Store will be less desirable"

          I'm sure they do. For me personally, though, omitting Google apps makes phones more desirable.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Chaos

            "For me personally, though, omitting Google apps makes phones more desirable."

            Definetely. Gimme an Android without Googles mandatory spying in every application and I'll buy one on the spot.

            Google is even worse than Apple on vendor lock-in, them asshats.

            Despite Android being open source software by itself.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Chaos

        "Access to the play store is always free."

        No, it's not free at all. "Free" means anyone, anywhere, with any device can access it.

        Google Play has never been that and won't be either. No Google account, i.e. tracking everywhere? No access to Play to you. It's literally the opposite of free.

        "Why would Google lock out a few hundred million potential app buyers ? "

        Because no tracking means no money for Google. Much, much more money that selling 3rd party apps gives to them.

        Everything Google does, is based on maximum profit for them, every time.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chaos

      >Forked versions of Android? A dozen different Play Stores from manufacturers? Incompatible apps? What could possibly go wrong...

      An explosion in malware I expect as people turn to dodgy app markets, there'll be those certainly trying to exploit this problem.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chaos

      Exactly what Microsoft's shill outfit (FairSearch) wants....

      Well done EU, playing right into Microsoft's hands....

  6. msknight Silver badge

    I get my APK's...

    ...via a downloading service and side load anyway ... as I'm on Sailfish and don't have the app store.

    I'm actually happier because my phone spends more time as a phone and I spend more time living my life. That's putting it simply... I know... but people here will get what I mean. (ie. messing around with tech that isn't my phone :-) )

    1. yosemite

      Re: I get my APK's...

      So you're happy that the APKs you download aren't vetted, scanned and approved as virus/malware free?

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: I get my APK's...

        So you're happy that the APKs you download aren't vetted, scanned and approved as virus/malware free?

        You obviously haven't done much side-loading. Most non-Google stores just provide files that are otherwise geoblocked but have already been scanned and vetted. What the change will do is allow companies like Google to provide scanning and vetting a commercial service this would put it on a solid contractual basis as opposed to the current handwaving approach, ie. liability for APKs could be established. Would also give Google a shop window for its code fuzzing and analysis services.

        This is an example of how regulation can help spur innovation through competition.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: I get my APK's...

        Doesn't bother me any...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I get my APK's...

        "So you're happy that the APKs you download aren't vetted, scanned and approved as virus/malware free?"

        ..... just the same way as Googles aren't. Except possibly afterwards when few million users start to complain about malware and viruses.

        ... how much Google paid for you for this comment, by the way?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I get my APK's...

      I'm on Sailfish too, what's google?

      (Sent from my Jolla) :-)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I get my APK's...

      >...via a downloading service and side load anyway ... as I'm on Sailfish and don't have the app store.

      That's you and as a reader of the Reg you are far more probably more savvy compared to the Great Unwashed who are likely to be whacked by malware before you can say Windows.

  7. mark l 2 Silver badge

    This sounds like win/win for Google. Either they get revenue from the manufacturers to not install Google search and Chrome but still get to slurp all the data from all the other G-Suite apps and make revenue from the Play store, Youtube ads etc. Or the manufacturer stay as they are and include Chome and Google search and Google continue to profit.

    Of course there is always a chance that manufacturers might fork Android and produce their own version, but without the Play stores to distribute apps they would have to convince developers to submit apps to their own app stores, and we know that even Amazon which is arguably has the largest alternative app store on Android don't have anywhere near as many apps and they struggled with their own Fire phone which ran a fork of Android.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      The EU can always fire back and say Google must make non-slurp versions of everything if they want to make manufacturers pay for them.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Which would be interesting, as we'd have some idea of how much value Google assigns to that slurping over the lifetime of a device.

        1. frankk

          I don't think you would. Because they're charging for the apps to be installed so that the so-called slurping can continue. It sounds like a win-win for Google, except that some credible competition might emerge (cough--Microsoft).

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        The EU can always fire back and say Google must make non-slurp versions of everything if they want to make manufacturers pay for them.

        Don't forget the also-important advertisement free.

  8. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Alert

    At least Google have put a price on how slurpy Chrome is

    Time for all self-respecting commentards to change browser, if you're using Chrome for some reason.

    1. //DLBL SYSRES

      Re: At least Google have put a price on how slurpy Chrome is

      Only for compatibility testing

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At least Google have put a price on how slurpy Chrome is

        "Only for compatibility testing"

        Same here. Edge is faster and less slurpy.

    2. Buzzword

      Actually, they haven't stated the price.

      Price matters. Is it €0.01 per handset? If so, handset makers will pay up, and absolutely nothing will change. But the Commission probably won't accept that figure, on the basis that it's anti-competitive.

      Conversely if it's €100 per handset, nobody will pay for it. Somewhere in between €0.01 and €100 there's a sweet spot: low enough to ensure mass take-up, but high enough appease the Commission.

      1. Saruman the White

        Re: Actually, they haven't stated the price.

        Does not matter what value Google sets the price at, the commision will complain that it is also anto-competative to make people pay. They are determined to make Google suffer whatever they do.

        1. Kimo

          Re: Actually, they haven't stated the price.

          The commission's reasoning, according to another article that I conveniently don't have a link to at the moment, is that if Google charges for their apps, it creates an incentive for competition because now other app makers have a price point to compete with. If phone makers have to pay, then another paid option is more viable. If, for example, Microsoft wanted to push Bing and Edge to handset makers, they could compete on price. If Google is free and included by default, it is much harder to convince vendors to add another option, even if it is free.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Actually, they haven't stated the price.

          "They are determined to make Google suffer whatever they do."

          Of course. And for a reason too, as it's painfully obvious Google will never do The Right Thing(TM).

          They simply can't do that. They'd rather bankrupt whole company than doing such a thing.

      2. Tambo2000

        Re: Actually, they haven't stated the price.

        Google always has changed handset manufacturers a license fee for accessing Google services - I understand it averaged around £15 per handset in 2014.

        Although Android is - in theory - open source freeware, for much of it to run, it requires access to Google services.

        The key issue was that the manufacturers were obligated to install all of Google's apps in exchange for the license - whether they wanted it or not.

        It was like Facebook saying "If you want to pre-install Facebook, you also have to pre-install WhatsApp (who we also own)".

        If the phone user didn't want those apps, they had to disable them off one-by-one in the settings menu, although they could never be deleted.

        The commission had a look and said "That's not fair. Manufacturers should be able to choose which apps they want to install, and pay for only those ones they want."

        In reality, it's not going to make much of a difference to the consumer. Phone makers will still probably choose to install the entire Google suite of apps, as that's what most (although maybe not all) consumers want.

  9. JetSetJim Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    >That Google tax is either going to eat into manufacturers' profits, or added onto products' price tags

    Strokes chin - I wonder which it will be...

    1. Kimo

      Best of both worlds. I would expect them to keep the budget model prices down as much as possible and add a significant bit to the flagship models to cover the loss.

  10. JohnG

    Are the regulators also going to go after Apple for their search and browser offerings? I appreciate that Apple are the sole manufacturers of their own hardware, while many manufacturers use Android but the regulator's issue appears to be about end user choice.

    If users in the EU/EEA end up without Google Apps, they might be able to flash their phones with a "European but not EU/EEA" build e.g. for Russia/Ukraine or UK.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      No. Because Apple aren't a monopoly. And even if they were, having a monopoly is perfectly legal.

      What you're not allowed to do is to leverage (abuse) your dominance in one market (search/advertising in the case of Google) into winning other markets.

      Google went into Android specifically to maintain its monopoly in search, that's why it was free. To be fair they also did it to get mobile data-loggers to improve maps, location services, local search - and slurp everyone's data. But for some reason regulators did nothing, and so Android has destroyed all OS competition in mobile, except for Apple - because nobody else could charge for a mobile OS.

      But now Google have pissed off the EU by failing to cooperate in their last anti-trust case (price comparison search) and so are in trouble over Android and search / Play store. Also they've pissed off US regulators with fake news (though not as badly as Facebook) - so might find the US government gets a little less sympathetic, and their massive lobbying efforts growing less efffective. Google have taken the piss - they've exploited that search/advertising monopoly for all it's worth, and I think they're going to reap the regulatory whirlwind for their arrogance and greed over the next ten years.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        .. well, IMHO, Apple do abuse their position with rules on what browsers can be used on their phones. Anti competitive as you are forced to use iOS WebKit & JS components (even if you may feel your alternative codebase is better)

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          tiggity,

          But that's not subject to regulatory intervention, because Apple aren't a monopoly. If you don't like the terms Apple offer their service under, then take another service.

          The reason you only have two choices is because of Google's search monopoly abuse created a monoculture (well OK duoculture if that's a word) in the mobile phone OS market. And that's why we need governments to regulate monopolies - to stop one big player from destroying the market in something important.

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            > Google's search monopoly abuse created a monoculture (well OK duoculture if that's a word) in the mobile phone OS market.

            It was Microsoft that killed WebOS, Symbian, Asha, Maemo/Meego, Melemi, Kin, WM6.x, Nokia-X and ultimately WP8 and W10M.

            Microsoft pushing WP into 'Microsoft only' corporates probably helped kill Blackberry too.

            Google is big in search because it gives the best results. I have no idea why you think that people buy Androids because Google has the best search engine. Any phone can use Google search, or any other search - they can do it in their browser.

            No. They buy Androids because Microsoft killed off everything else except ones they can't afford.

        2. Graham Cobb

          Apple do not have Significant Market Power on mobile phones. And will have even less with these new changes allowing vendors like Samsung to use Android forks to create real Apple competitors with their own ecosystem of apps (and their own data collection to fund it).

          1. David Nash Silver badge

            Apple do not have Significant Market Power on mobile phones

            They do not have the majority of the market, so why is it that every podcast I listen to says "give us a review on iTunes"?

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: Apple do not have Significant Market Power on mobile phones

              David Nash,

              Because lots of people use iTunes on their PC - or have old iPods. As well as all the Apple users. Although many people use podcast apps, but there are loads of them - so Apple are the biggest player in podcasts.

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: Apple do not have Significant Market Power on mobile phones

                The word "podcast" clearly indicates its origins. People may not be using iPods anymore, but iTunes still has a podcasts section, where podcasts register themselves so people can find them. There are other directories for podcasts except that 1. A lot of podcast apps use the iTunes directories to make it easy to search for podcasts (because people put their ones in) and 2. other directories rarely have a review system at all. However, apple doesn't use their "market dominance" in simply providing a list of a lot of podcasts to enforce things--podcast apps that are written only for android use the iTunes lists for their search system, nor do they prevent podcasts that don't list themselves there from working. It's just a database, and a really harmless one.

      2. fandom

        "Android has destroyed all OS competition in mobile, except for Apple - because nobody else could charge for a mobile OS."

        Nah, not really, Microsoft used their patent extorsion racket to make it more expensive than Windows Phone.

        The OEM still used Android.

      3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Who destroyed the competition ?

        > Android has destroyed all OS competition in mobile, except for Apple - because nobody else could charge for a mobile OS.

        Microsoft killed WebOS by waving WoA (Windows on ARM - RT) and 'loyalty discounts' at HP (you wouldn't want to have to pay retail to put Windows on the boxes you sell).

        Microsoft killed Symbian, Meltemi, Maemo/Meego, Asha by the contract it had with Nokia via Elop.

        Microsoft killed Windows Mobile 6.x with a completely different 100% incompatible Windows Phone 7.

        Microsoft killed Kin.

        Microsoft killed Nokia-X/Microsoft-X (Android using MS and Nokia services) by just closing it down because it was outselling Lumia.

        Microsoft killed Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile by incompetence.

        Microsoft then complained that Android was a monopoly.

  11. Julian 8

    MS next... again

    Please make them remove shit like

    Cortana

    Edge

    IE

    xBox crap

    OneDrive

    Don't mind if MS make me pay as it won't cost me a penny

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: MS next... again

      Whether they can do that at all would depend on what they consider a "market". Are desktop PCs/laptops a market unto themselves, or are they lumped in with tablets and smartphones as part of a larger market.

      Hint: how much time does the average person spend accessing the internet, apps, games etc. on a smartphone versus on a laptop/desktop PC in 2018?

      I think the market has taken care of Microsoft's dominance. For instance, even if they only allowed Edge as a browser on Windows - you couldn't even install Chrome/Firefox - they couldn't use that to influence web standards because there are more Android & iOS devices in active use on the internet than there are Windows PCs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MS next... again

      "Please make them remove shit like

      Edge"

      But what would you download another browser with?!

      Also Edge is the fastest browser these days and quite pleasant to use.

  12. DropBear Silver badge

    Most of all of that I would be fine without actually, the sticking point for me is email (including the "instant" push notification of having received one - my "email-checker" currently is the "ping" of my phone...). Deride all you want, I _do_ need an email address and the only free ones left I could find offering NON-web based access (ie. for Thunderbird) were Google and Yahoo. No, I'm not going to use my ISP-provided address (if they even actually provide one - no idea. Just _nope_.) No, I'm not going to install an email server at home considering I don't even have a fixed IP and wouldn't begin to have the foggiest idea about how to set up and secure one properly (not to mention spam filtering sucks by definition when you can't compare to what everybody else receives en-masse). No, I'm absolutely definitely categorically not going to start renting a cloud server so I can (fail to) do the same on someone else's hardware.

    So the question remains open - are there actually any third-party (either free or low-cost) non-web-access email providers sufficiently trustworthy to make switching from Google mail worthwhile - preferably EU-based and with some sort of quick-notification mechanism on Android...? Because I'm willing to endure a lot to appease my tin foil hat, but past a certain point practical need trumps all, no discussion, full stop.

    1. Come to the Dark Side

      Not sure I follow what you mean by "non-web-access email"

      Most email providers give you the settings to interact with their mail service through whichever email client you like over a number of different protocols (POP, SMTP, etc). The majority also allow you to log in via a web client, but it's up to you really. You can use the android mail client to connect to hotmail or android outlook to connect to gmail. Can even add multiple email providers to the same client if you like.

    2. _LC_ Bronze badge
      WTF?

      Is this a joke?

      Employ your search engine of choice and enter “best free e-mail providers”. Pick a few and use the one you like best. ;-)

      As for GMail, Google has been trying everything to nail their GMail shut. They even invented their own authentication mechanism just to break competing e-mail clients. Most new clients can deal with it again, but Google will simply keep blocking your client randomly, bombarding you with “Suspicious sign in prevented” messages.

      The way Google is “fighting” unfair has been reminding me a lot of Microsoft recently.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Is this a joke?

        As for GMail, Google has been trying everything to nail their GMail shut. They even invented their own authentication mechanism just to break competing e-mail clients. Most new clients can deal with it again, but Google will simply keep blocking your client randomly, bombarding you with “Suspicious sign in prevented” messages.

        That's a bit unfair. They did switch to oauth 2 which obviously didn't work with non-oauth2 imap clients, but they still let you "downgrade" your account to allow the usual user/password authentication.

        And the oauth2 stuff is a standard, and well documented: https://developers.google.com/gmail/imap/xoauth2-protocol

        https://developers.google.com/gmail/api/auth/web-server

        1. _LC_ Bronze badge

          Re: Is this a joke?

          It's a 'forced web-authentication', which takes you out of the client and into the browser. You basically get a cookie that way. Afterwards, they ignore that you have the cookie and claim that your 'sign in is suspicious'. I had to 're-activate' my account dozens of times - even though I set all the flags correctly, in theory allowing such access. This is clearly intended to break users until they give up and use their GMail client.

          If you look through the forums, you will find users complaining about this en-mass.

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Re: Is this a joke?

            Then use a mailer that doesn't use "web based authentication'

            I'd say that I've NEVER had any issues with aquamail, which i've used daily for years.... but if I do, you'll probably downvote me again!

            And I don't care if loads of people are complaining. It just means they are doing it wrong.

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: Is this a joke?

              but if I do, you'll probably downvote me again!

              I think there's a professional drive-by downvoter, as is often the case when it's a Google or MS story.

              1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: Is this a joke?

                I think there's a professional drive-by downvoter, as is often the case when it's a Google or MS story.

                Yeah, seems like it.. And there was me thinking I was special enough to get my own anti-stalker!

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Is this a joke?

                " think there's a professional drive-by downvoter, as is often the case when it's a Google or MS story."

                Obviously as there's one downvote on this comment too.

            2. //DLBL SYSRES

              Re: Is this a joke?

              Aquamail is a decent product. Gmail is far too intrusive.

        2. davidp231

          Re: Is this a joke?

          "That's a bit unfair. They did switch to oauth 2 which obviously didn't work with non-oauth2 imap clients, but they still let you "downgrade" your account to allow the usual user/password authentication."

          With the caveat of sending you emails saying your account isn't secure, every now and then.

      2. //DLBL SYSRES

        Re: Is this a joke?

        I've pretty much de-Googled my life now, the last Android phone only used Play. Purchased a Lumia 940 for very little money and find it much more usable than the mess that is Android. Google are the new Evil Empire - it used to be IBM back in the day.

    3. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Is your issue with the service, or the apps?

      gmail offers imap access, so works with third-party software (on android, i'd recommend 'aquamail') which still does the usual alerts, uses gmail (and others if necessary) but isn't a 'toy' like the gmail app.

    4. DavCrav Silver badge

      "the sticking point for me is email (including the "instant" push notification of having received one - my "email-checker" currently is the "ping" of my phone...)."

      I downloaded WeMail for that. Works like GMail, accesses your GMail inbox, but GMail was having some problems with its push notifications and so I have two e-mail clients. So if the GMail app goes bye-bye I just use WeMail, again for free.

    5. Dan 55 Silver badge

      You need a webmail provider that offers IMAP IDLE and an Android client. If you can't find the info any other way you can test if it's got IMAP IDLE by telnetting to the IMAP server and port.

      If you want a quick answer try GMX.com with K9 Mail on Android. Remember to disable battery saving/doze/whatever it's called this week just for K9 otherwise notifications can be delayed.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Have you tried AquaMail?

        I find it so much better than K9

    6. David Nash Silver badge

      non web-based email

      Just get a domain and a simple mail service from one of many providers (I use 1&1), you will be given IMAP, POP3, SMTP access. Plus webmail should you need it.

      Not free. But cheap enough that I don't care.

    7. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      TANSTAAFL

      Please don't take this as a personal attack. I'm drawing attention to a broad phenomenon. http://dilbert.com/strip/1997-10-01

      I find it weird that no one attacked your premises that 1) an email client with your desired features should be available for free and 2) you should be notified about personal emails instantly while at work.

      I was pleased to pay for Eudora before moving over to Linux for my home system. Likewise, I'm currently paying for a domain which includes a pop service. Yes, pop. Because I don't do personal email at work.

      I find these two societal trends quite disturbing. We should expect to pay for things that we receive that are of value, and when we are at work, we should expect to be working.

      I'm not ready to cede either of these points.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: TANSTAAFL

        Wow, this got some attention... Thanks to everyone who replied! Let me try to address some of it...

        @Come to the Dark Side "Not sure I follow what you mean by "non-web-access email"

        Email that can be accessed not only trough a web interface, but also from a desktop client via POP3/IMAP. Last time I checked, this was a very serious problem with free hosts in the sense of "haha, nope" which is somewhat understandable seeing as how they can't even fling ads at me if I'm not using their web interface. Admittedly, that check was some time ago.

        @_LC_ "Is this a joke? Employ your search engine of choice and enter “best free e-mail providers”

        Rest assured, certainly not a joke. See reply above. I did, and quite literally the only free ones I found were Google, Yahoo and GMX. Concerning the latter, see also below.

        @Jamie Jones "Is your issue with the service, or the apps?"

        Strictly speaking: neither, or both - While Gmail is perfectly usable as-is, I'm not appreciating all the snoop going on; but if I leave Google, obviously both the app AND the service would need to go.

        @DavCrav "I downloaded WeMail for that. Works like GMail, accesses your GMail inbox [...]"

        Thanks for the suggestion, that app might come in handy yet...

        @Dan 55 "You need a webmail provider that offers IMAP IDLE and an Android client. If you can't find the info any other way you can test if it's got IMAP IDLE by telnetting to the IMAP server and port. If you want a quick answer try GMX.com with K9 Mail on Android."

        Ok, IMAP IDLE might work, further studies needed. As for GMX, they can die in a fire, hopefully. I did have an account with them which they simply booted me out of without explanation citing only unidentified ToS crimes. Which is bullshit, considering that I really, really, REALLY wasn't doing much anything at all with the account and absolutely definitely nothing that would have been against their ToS . Nevertheless, after an appeal the only answer I got was that their decision stands, for mysterious reasons that continue to be none of my business, apparently. So pardon me if I hope to see them firebombed some glorious day, because they definitely deserve it.

        @David Nash "Just get a domain and a simple mail service from one of many providers (I use 1&1)"

        See above - last checked, there was NO such thing as POP/IMAP accessible free mail outside those Big Three. I am not sure how to find any non-free but reasonable ones that would be worth moving to from Gmail (after all I really don't want all the exact same downsides and some more with none of the upsides) ,but thanks for the tip-off, I'll look into 1&1.

        @ Claptrap314 "I find it weird that no one attacked your premises that 1) an email client with your desired features should be available for free and 2) you should be notified about personal emails instantly while at work."

        1) You may have overlooked the "or low-cost" part in the original post; at least concerning the service - I do have a free email client on desktop (Thunderbird) thank you very much and my phone does have a built-in generic email client - all I would be interested in is some mechanism that would notify me near-instantly when I get new mail, like Gmail Push does. Which brings us to:

        2) You may be forgiven for not realising that very much unlike some people's Facebook stream, my email gets 5-6 mails total on a good day, essentially none of which are personal in nature (but rather formulaic notifications from standard sources such as merchants, Kickstarter, Patreon etc.), which I spend roughly thirty seconds on to parse, each. And my employer can fuck the fucking fuck off and die if he doesn't like that - hell will shatter to a zillion tiny bits due to frost shrinkage stress before you'll manage to guilt trip me for spending that kind of amount of "my employer's time" on that. No offence, natch.

        "I'm not ready to cede either of these points."

        That's OK. Me neither.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: TANSTAAFL

          As well and the ones in the Wikipedia link, there's also Vivaldi.net and possibly posteo.de (not sure if it's got IDLE).

          Protect your email the German way

        2. _LC_ Bronze badge
          Pint

          Re: TANSTAAFL

          Just a few prominent ones:

          http://www.zoho.com/mail/

          https://protonmail.com

          https://tutanota.com

          http://mail.com/

          https://mail.yandex.com

          And of course:

          https://www.icloud.com/#mail

          Outlook.com

          AOL Mail

          Needless to say, that there are a ton more...

        3. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: TANSTAAFL

          My complaint was about the sense of entitlement. Sure, I'm running Linux--and I have intense gratitude toward the many developer's whose work I am using at no cost.

          I did miss your "or lost cost" phrase. But even then, when you look at the number of hosting services out there, I have a hard time believing that the market would not have driving costs lower unless costs were near these levels. If you don't consider $100/year for a domain that includes imap low cost, then perhaps you've not seen as much of the world as I have.

          As for the employer's time, again, you are quite correct that I do not know your situation. Apparently, you get few personal emails a day than I do sometimes when I sneeze. (I've found the MK I eyeball to be the best spam filter.) Certainly, if someone on hourly is only scanning during breaks, that is fine. Likewise, for salaried employees that treat the eight hour end-of-day as being dependent upon urgent business needs, there is plenty of room for dealing with limited personal stuff while at work. I've had employers specifically state that they would rather I take calls during the day than not. I was basing my complaint on a general phenomenon where people aren't committed to delivering excellence to their employer.

          Which is why I explicitly stated that I was not intending to attack you personally. Upvote for your closer. :)

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: TANSTAAFL

        I find these two societal trends quite disturbing. We should expect to pay for things that we receive that are of value, and when we are at work, we should expect to be working.

        There are lots of free emai services out there. It's not unreasonable therefore to ask around for any suggestions on a "free or low cost mail solution"

        It's completely different to the never-ending comments you see on android apps saying things like:

        - "this game is a con. i loved the first level, but why should we have to pay to play the other"?

        - Game would be brilliant if it was free. 1 star.

        - I appreciate the amount of work that must have gone into this app, but it would be much fairer if we got daily tokens rather than having to pay real money for them.

        <cheapshot>Incidentally, how much did you pay for Linux ? ;-) </cheapshot>

        As for the 'personal mail on work time' - yes, if people are taking the piss. But you can't assume that of dropbear, indeed, i'd assume most people here would not take the piss, and work for people who treat them as such.

        I can look at non-work related websites in work, make and receive personal phone calls, and my boss doesn't give a crap. Probably because he also knows that if the shit hits that fan at 4.59pm, i won't be rushing out the door at 5:00.00 - it works both ways, and I wouldn't work in an environment where I have it any other way.

  13. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Such a load of stubborn braying from Companies like Google over these issues...

    All MS had to do over the IE issue years ago and all Google really had to do was provide uninstalls that worked to remove bits the users might not want.

    Bundling when you are the underdog, nobody cares, but once you are dominant, you can afford to, as long as you don't fuck up your position with dumb ui changes (Hi, Microsoft) most users are going to leave it on anyway, or even run the install if required as long as it's made easy peasy.

  14. Craigie

    'as a result of that sudden disappearance of revenue'

    A bit of a stretch to write-off all Chrome and search revenue in the EU just because the apps are no longer bundled. What's the first thing you'd do with a new device with no Chrome on it? Install Chrome! Same for search. Sure they'll lose a bit but I'd be amazed if it dropped by more than 35%.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      What's the first thing you'd do with a new device with no Chrome on it?

      Install Firefox.

      Same for search.

      Install DDG.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      You're getting a device with no Chrome but has another browser installed. Most will not install Chrome if they already have a working browser.

      Search is a different matter, "googling" is basically a verb meaning "to search on the internet" so more people would install Google search when it was missing. Not sure how many though, if Microsoft paid HTC (for example) to install Bing as an app called "Search" people might just click that and not notice/care it wasn't Google. If the app was called "Bing" they probably wouldn't know what it was, and would be more likely to install Google's search. Yes, I really do think Microsoft's Bing branding is that bad...

      Of course, this is all academic if Google charges more for the search-free version of Android than Microsoft would be willing to pay to install Bing.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        I think as long as there's an obvious "search" box, and the page layout is similar, most people would use it whether it was bing/ddg/anything else, yet they'd still call it 'google'!

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          IOW Google's achieved that ultimate of brand status: it's become a generic term, a la Xerox for photocopies.

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            yep, I remember at one stage they tried to discourage that (something about losing their trade-mark???) whilst when bing was launched, they actively tried to get people to 'just bing it".

            But yeah, many (including me!) say "it's googleable" or "just google it", when i mean just-use-search-engine-of-your-choice!

            Anyway, must go, the sellotape came off my biro, so now I have to hoover up the mess!

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Funny. I think in America the equivalent phrase would be, "The Scotch Tape came of my Bic..." the Hoover part would be the same, though.

  15. MrAnonCoward43
    Thumb Up

    Sailfish ahoy

    Another Sailfish fan which is working perfectly for me on my Xperia X, looking forward to the forthcoming v3. Glad to have left the Google / Android world behind, the battery life on my phone now is significantly better now it's not permanently on speed dial to G HQ.

    I currently have two Android apps; Brave + Threema, both installed using apks from their respective websites. Occasionally I look at my old Android device for Whatsapp group messages. With version Sailifish 3 I'm hoping it will be easy enough to block pretty much all access for an app like Whatsapp and open when I want to - that will negate the need to use my old phone for that.

    I really don't miss Android, I use brave for almost everything I would have used an app for before and I'm not one to want constnat push notifications telling me I have a new email or someone has posted something on Twitter or a goal has been scored etc

    The only thing I think I miss is banking apps, from banks that insist that the only way to login is via a mobile device - again this is kept on an old Android so not the end of the world there.

    Note, there are a few things that Sailfish need to do, for example last week I wanted a new Calendar (Work) in my Calendar beyond the default Personal / Birthday - this required me to write an sqlite insert via the built in terminal, laughable really but probably something that'll be updated in the near future and that's the first time I've needed to do something like that.

    1. _LC_ Bronze badge

      Re: Sailfish ahoy

      I would consider changing the bank, if they try to force you into using a CLEARLY INSECURE device.

      1. MrAnonCoward43

        Re: Sailfish ahoy

        For example Tide, they require you to use an Android or iOS app, it was chosen because at the time of searching it was one of the only free business bank accounts I could spot, ie without annoying monthly fees, only transaction fees, to be used for a business which is largely dormant at present but one that I hope to resurrect at some point in the near future.

        I barely need to check this account anyway just an example that others who require to use Tide (and there are many similar options now) daily they'd struggle with Sailfish at the moment.

        A bit off topic really so sorry about that! Happy for the mobile space to be opened up to more players than Google and Apple so I welcome the EU requirements in this instance, if it makes any sort of difference.

    2. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: Sailfish ahoy

      Your argument doesn't quite hold water - you are running perfectly fine with hardly any Android apps and no Google, except for the apps you do want, which you run on another phone.

      1. MrAnonCoward43
        Thumb Up

        Re: Sailfish ahoy

        I'll reiterate, it's running perfectly fine to me.

        See the old Android as similar thing to turning on a computer to write a really long email rather than typing it on your phone. I don't need any of the mentioned stuff on my phone that I carry with me at most times. Hence I'm running perfectly fine. I check it at most 3 or 4 times a week. Sometimes not in a fortnight.

        Just mentioned the banking apps / whatsapp as things to consider if anyone wanted to follow suit. And I could happily install a whatsapp apk on Sailfish too as far as I know but have no interest to check it beyond a couple of times a week and have Whatsapp running on my daily phone.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Sailfish ahoy

          As for changing banks, many only have ONE bank, if any, in town, meaning it's take their crummy app or do even more hoop jumping on payday than you would with the bank.

  16. marcaevans

    I echo what others have said above, it will make devices less desirable moving forward. I have been a long-term iOS user but will be switching to Android within the next month. If I found that the phone I was planning on purchasing was to come without the play store, chrome or google search the chance of me purchasing that device would quickly approach 0%. I will be checking up on this before I purchase as I have no intention of using the samsung internet browser or Bixby. I am going Android for the customisation and the fact that I am invested in google services.

  17. RangerFish

    So my main problem with Android is the stupid nonsense that every manufacturer inexplicably feels compelled to shovel into it, and the EU wants to make it worse?

    Well done, EU!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Another EU balls up

      So my main problem with Android is the stupid nonsense that every manufacturer inexplicably feels compelled to shovel into it, and the EU wants to make it worse?

      Well done, EU!

      My thoughts exactly. I don't see this being a good thing at all for consumers, unless you feel the need to pay more for you phone.

  18. jaffa99

    Who gets the $5billion?

    Who gets the $5billion?

    I'm always curious when businesses or banks are fined these huge sums, who's getting the money because I never seem to get my share.

    1. _LC_ Bronze badge

      Re: Who gets the $5billion?

      The fines go into the EU-budget. They make up a fraction of 1% of the total revenues.

      Therefore, it goes to the tax payers in the EU (as they have to pay slightly less due to this).

      1. _LC_ Bronze badge
        WTF?

        Re: Who gets the $5billion?

        I'm getting thumbs down for neutrally answering a question (with facts)? *lol*

  19. ScissorHands
    Holmes

    What a case of dog bites man...

    That's exactly the result desired by the EU. It means the policy is working as intended. It means Microsoft can now enter an agreement with an European manufacturer (harrumph Nokia) and sell "Android" with Microsoft Launcher, Bing and Edge, at a lower price than the Google version if Microsoft is willing to eat the cost (or at the same price, but preinstalling and offering 1 year of free Office365).

    What a shame this couldn't have been done in time to save the market from having to choose between the cold embrace of a closed garden and the spiked embrace of a fenced garden.

    1. fandom

      Re: What a case of dog bites man...

      No, because then they would be abusing their office suite monopoly.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But I want Chrome!

    So thanks to this action, perhaps encouraged by Apple and Microsoft, I will have to pay more for a phone, then install Chrome and all the other apps that I am paying more for the absence of.

    Not being one of the, self proclaimed, beautiful people, I do not want an iPhone and don't see Windows as any form or alternative.

    Will we be able to get what hundreds of millions of people are happy with or are we now stuck with this?

  21. //DLBL SYSRES

    Quite surprised as to the number of people who believe Chrome to be a good product.

    1. _LC_ Bronze badge

      Incompatibilities

      I spot more and more sites heavily employing scripts, that work only 100% on Chrome. We used to have this disease with the "Internet Explorer" before. Only the dragon has changed...

      1. MrAnonCoward43
        Holmes

        Re: Incompatibilities

        ie Google Maps, Gmail, most Google sites seem to run like an old dog on Firefox and IE. And Angular tends to as well, very clever.

        Would be easy enough to put in a known weakness or two into Google Analytics as well, imagine the percentage coverage that could hit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @1 hr //DLBL SYSRES

      And the alternative for my phone is?

      I don't do secret things on my phone. If I fancy spookery, I will start with Tor and move forward from there.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: @1 hr //DLBL SYSRES

        They don't have to be "secret" things. The whole "Give me six lines" bit...

  22. Confused Vorlon

    Should have been less subtle

    I wish they had just created the following 'pricelist'

    Android $0

    Chrome + Search $0

    Play Services $10/device

    Google Apps -$10/device (we pay you)

    Good luck launching android without play services (many apps will crash immediately)

    Google Apps of course do require Play Services

  23. flingback

    Where do I sign up!

    If Google made the Play Store able to work irrespective of any other services, and offered a yearly subscription for Play Services (ie: Push) and didn't force any other tracking and advertising shite onto you I think they would be amazed at the volume of people who sign up. I would willingly pay £24 a year for this personally, and I know a few other SME's that would pay it too (and corporates with a volume discount).

    I hate being advertised at, and thanks to Adblock, NoScript etc. don't suffer this on web pages. I am one of the types that would even subscribe to The Register for an annual few quid - I know this stuff isn't free, but web advertising is fundamentally broken. Maybe if you don't have the full fat Google package you can't download "free" apps (the ones laden with banner ads), but as I don't use any of those I really wouldn't suffer.

  24. Herby Silver badge

    Be careful what you ask for...

    You might just get it.

    EU please take note. Some cases the "cure" is worse than the "disease". This may or may not be true, but the regulators need to be careful. Sometimes they just do things to justify their existence and say they are "helpful".

    "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you" is a very dangerous phrase.

    Of course Google is getting a bit big these days, but how do you stop it in a meaningful way that satisfies everyone? Good luck.

    1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

      Re: Be careful what you ask for...

      but how do you stop it in a meaningful way that satisfies everyone? Good luck.

      Just like how the EU stopped Microsoft from getting too big in the previous decade (it didn't).

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Be careful what you ask for...

      "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you" is a very dangerous phrase.

      Any less dangerous than "I'm from Big Business and I'm here to help you"? Meanwhile, I would think the former would be welcome words to disaster victims.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Be careful what you ask for...

      "Of course Google is getting a bit big these days, but how do you stop it in a meaningful way that satisfies everyone? "

      It won't ever satisfy everyone, that's impossible.

      How about just obeying the laws, eh?

      Google has a legal army, they know very well what should be done. They just see it as less profits, so they won't do it until forced.

  25. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

    Can they just ship devices with TWRP

    And a link to OpenGapps.org or something and a flashy guide to tell the users how to flash the Gapps without drooling?

    (Legally speaking, all is fine. A company whose name escapes me has done this with Hackintoshes. They ship motherboards that run "any OS you want" with a faint whisper in the background: even macOS.)

    Edit 2: There's the name, projectQ, and it's not as "silent" about macOS as I said: https://www.engineering.com/3DPrinting/3DPrintingArticles/ArticleID/5410/A-Motherboard-that-Runs-any-Operating-System.aspx

  26. bonerp

    Well done Europe. Idiots. Thank god for brexit. Google I'm with you, NOT the EU.

  27. Tambo2000

    This is actually good news, because

    There will be no difference to consumers.

    Google charged device makers for access to their services in the first place.

    What's changed is the payment structure.

    Now, device makers are not OBLIGED to ship devices with all of Google's services if they don't want to.

    It's likely they still will, of course, because the demand is there: Google apps are useful.

    Until now, the idea that Android was a 'free' operating system was a bit of a bluff.

    Android was designed as a carrier for Google's services.

    Device manufacturers were always charged by Google for allowing access to their services, and that meant they had to take them all - whether wanted or not.

    That's why Android users usually spend half our lives closing Google apps down we want use - stuff like Hangouts, for example.

    It was like saying, if you want the warranty on the car, you have to take the paint choice, the alloy wheels, the sidelights, carpets,and everything else.

    It's not going to make any difference to users, as I say. But it's fairer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is actually good news, because

      "It's likely they still will, of course, because the demand is there: Google apps are useful.

      To put it simply: Compared to total loss of privacy involved to any of them they aren't useful, but criminal spyware, by any sense of the word.

      Only idiots want to have them as they are already struggling seriously even with the concept of privacy.

  28. cb7

    Does this remind anyone else of Microsoft and having to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows all those years ago?

    Looks like things have gone full circle for Google.

    And dare I say, probably for MS too soon with Edge/Bing/Cortana being the default in Windows 10. Only a matter of time before they hit a billion devices and they'll get clobbered with another big fine. Though not sure where they'll find the money if they keep fucking Windows up with every update.

    Time for a cup of tea me thinks.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google is far better than apple

    In IOS you can't do many, even it won't allow URL to opened via any browser other than safari. Every link can be oppenned only using apple apps. No access to file system. Literally complete monopoly. Google doesn't force you to use anything, they just provide better service to attract you. Google is far better contributing technology advancement. EU simply blame Google.

    Google provided better maps, better mail, better translator, better document storage, better photo storage, better address book, and lot many. Then they are getting fare share by their advertisement. If EU found any fraud on search results being favaroable to their adverdiser, then question Google. Please don't just blame Google by telling anti trust. It is full of politics.

    Google far ethical than money minded apple who slow the phone speed by software upgrade to promote sale of their newer model

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Google is far better than apple

      Apple don't let you do some things with the product they make. That is irritating to quite a few people, and perhaps a good reason not to buy apple stuff. However, they do that because that's their product. Their product lets you do some things, and does not let you do other things.

      Google created a product, in your mind better, that also doesn't let you do certain things, like disable google play services let alone delete it. That's their right to do in their product, but they aren't just doing it because that's their product; they are doing it to destroy the competition from their suppliers and others, by making google play services a parasitic effect on their device manufacturers and making it impossible to do pretty much anything without it.

      FYI, the thing apple did to reduce device processing that they claimed was for battery reasons was illegal. They got sued, and they got investigated. When apple or google does something actively illegal, and they both do, they get investigated.

      1. jaduncan

        Re: Google is far better than apple

        "Google created a product, in your mind better, that also doesn't let you do certain things, like disable google play services let alone delete it."

        I'm perfectly free to install an AOSP build without GPS in any form. Unlocking that on any Pixel takes one line of code.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Google is far better than apple

          Imagine that. After you've already paid google for a ridiculously overpriced phone, they let you root it. However, you can't on other phones (not related to topic here, but it annoys me). The issue, however, is that I'm not allowed to sell such a phone if I want to also sell a phone with google play services. Therefore, since they do their best to hobble AOSP only devices, I pretty much have to choose not to make them. Essentially, they have a lock on companies that prevents them from building a competing product, which is illegal.

          For me, the consumer, I can't easily get a device that A. is a smartphone, B. Isn't apple, and C. Doesn't run google play services. I can't buy an android phone and remove it (unless it's a pixel, evidently). I don't have any other options. Some of the previous options died due to mismanagement, which is not Google's fault, but even more never got a chance to exist because Google was able to say "If you make a phone with that, we won't let you build anything else".

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: Google is far better than apple

            > Google was able to say "If you make a phone with that, we won't let you build anything else".

            You are correct that if a company signs up for play services then they can't do ASOP. They could, however, build anything else they want to, such as Windows Phones, or Tizen.

            Compare that with HP where MS used 'loyalty discounts' to kill WebOS, or Dell where they dropped Android in similar circumstances.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google is far better than apple

      " Literally complete monopoly. Google doesn't force you to use anything, they just provide better service to attract you"

      IOS is niche player and in their own sandbox they can do whatever they want, you can ditch whole box.

      Also Google _is_ forcing you to have an account in Google store and all Google spyware, otherwise no security updates for you. That' s literal extorsion and 'better services' is just BS.

      Also: Better services than who?

  30. mildy bemused

    Turn regulatory compliance into a profit centre

    Sorted.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This might actually mean more development of the AOSP suite of apps. AOSP already offers a mail client that looks and feels just like the Gmail app, the Android system needs WebView in order to work and that's Chromium-based, so OEMs can just grab the same Blink version as Chrome Stable and buil (though I'd prefer if they use Firefox instead), the AOSP keyboard offers all of the Gboard's features except for all the creepy spying and the gesture typing, apps like Google Play Music and Photos have AOSP replacements, but they haven't been updated in years.

    The issue will be if they decide to include Google Play Services in this. Without it most of the apps break one way or another, thus it would force OEMs to pay upfront.

    Sure, there's MicroG but it's an alpha and it breaks every time Google pushes an update to Google Play Services. And no OEM will never attempt to make a GSP replacement just for the EU.

    There's also SafetyNet which is used by many popular apps (including Snapchat, Pokémon GO and most of the bank apps) and it won't let those apps run without Services.

    In other words OEMs would be forced to pay in order to offer useable phones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "In other words OEMs would be forced to pay in order to offer useable phones."

      I don't think so: They only need to offer a phone and a good browser.

      The idea that anything which doesn't have an app, doesn't exist, is somewhat bizarre to me in a world where almost anything can be done with a browser.

      Over https unlike what ever unencrypted methods the applications use.

  32. nextenso

    De-googling

    I, for one and I'm sure there are many others, would be very willing and happy to pay a small annual fee to get rid of the Google dross on my phone and pick just the bits I want or need. Anything I can do to keep myself out of the reach of Google makes me happy. Every time I start my phone now I get a full page Google ad, there is no way to stop it. Some of these ads have images I dont want to see.

    It would take a very small fee from the billions of users to replace money that Google makes now. It could be bundled into the network provider charge for the phone

    Remembering a recent Reg post, I'm one the millions of people he impolitely called "an idiot" for buying a phone bundled with the network fee instead of buying outright on finance.

    Of course, there would be many who object in principle to paying anything.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: De-googling

      Every time I start my phone now I get a full page Google ad, there is no way to stop it.

      That's nothing to do with Google, that some shitty app you've installed or it's the crap provided by your phone manufacturer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: De-googling

        "That's nothing to do with Google, that some shitty app you've installed or it's the crap provided by your phone manufacturer."

        How do you know? Obviously it's paid to Google.

  33. Alpy

    Good for Google...

    I like their stance...their OS, their Platform so they can do what they like. Choice is with the consumer.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Good for Google...

      You assume there IS a choice for most. If they app they need is ONLY with Android, or they're forced by their (or ALL) employers...what's that idiom about being up the proverbial creek?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good for Google...

      "Choice is with the consumer."

      What choise?

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