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Google's strict policies for 'open' Android OS revealed in newly public documents

post #1 of 206
Thread Starter 
New documents published to the Web on Wednesday reveal Google imposes decidedly strict tit-for-tat terms on device makers looking to use the "open" Android platform.

MADA


In a report on Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal aired out Google's past and present dealings with Android device makers, noting OEMs must agree to a very narrow set of terms in order to fully comply with the "open" operating system's licensing.

The publication based its findings on documents from a 2012 Oracle v. Google patent and copyright trial, which were first published by Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman in an in-depth treatise on Wednesday. Edelman points to a previously sealed document regarding Google's Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA) provisions as applied to Samsung and HTC.

According to the document, Google requires manufacturers using Android agree to preinstall specific Google Apps, set Google Search as the default search provider for all Web access points and preload Google's Network Location Provider service. In addition, certain apps like the Play Store must be positioned "at least on the panel immediately adjacent to the Default Home Screen." Other stipulations are detailed in the embedded MADA documents below.

Although the documents refer to years-old policies that technically ended in December of 2012, the WSJ contends Google still uses similar agreements. Current restrictions and requirements are not known, however.

"These MADA restrictions suppress competition," Edelman writes. "Thanks to the MADA, alternative vendors of search, maps, location, email, and other apps cannot outcompete Google on the merits; even if a competitor offers an app that's better than Google's offering, the carrier is obliged to install Google's app also, and Google can readily amend the MADA to require making its app the default in the corresponding category (for those apps that don't already have this additional protection)."

Google has touted Android as an "open" platform, from which developers and manufacturers alike can thrive. The company's top executives, like Chairman Eric Schmidt, claim Google does not limit access to Android.

Edelman quotes Schmidt as saying, "Google does not condition access to or use of Android on pre-installation of any Google applications or on making Google the default search engine." Without parsing words, the exec's statement is mostly true. When read in the context of Samsung and HTC's MADA agreements, however, Schmidt leaves open the option that another Google property could impose these same limitations. Apps and search are just two examples.

Galaxy S4


Complicating matters is Android's positioning within the Google hierarchy. As it stands, the most dominant smartphone platform on earth is a funnel for Google's bread and butter search business, driving traffic to advertisers and adding to the firm's ever-growing user data cache. The agreement comes perilously close to engendering a climate of non-competition.

While not surprising, Google also built in a clause that had device makers reporting the number of devices distributed with a given preloaded application.

The WSJ reports that EU antitrust watchdog, the European Commission, has been looking into Google's Android distribution practices since last year. With a recent settlement over Google's search implementations, the agency's vice president and commissioner Joaqu?n Almunia last week said focus will now shift more heavily to Android.



post #2 of 206
But it's open?!?!
We can do what we want!!!
Is Google the new Apple?
post #3 of 206
Seems like Microsoft lost a lawsuit or two over a very similar policy when it required PC vendors to pre-installed IE in a favorable position on the Windows platform.

Anybody got popcorn?
post #4 of 206
But...but...but... does that mean... Google is being.... "the man"??!!!
post #5 of 206
Those are not policies to device manufacturers for using Android, those are policies for licensing Google Services.
post #6 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post

Those are not policies to device manufacturers for using Android, those are policies for licensing Google Services.

That's not what this says: "manufacturers using Android agree to preinstall specific Google Apps, set Google Search as the default search provider for all Web access points and preload Google's Network Location Provider service.…"

Note the first 3 words of the quote: "manufacturers using Android...." Nowhere does it say "licensing Google apps." That's presumptive based on the quid pro quo of installing those apps in favored position in exchange for permission to use Android on their devices.

Got it now?
post #7 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by macaholic_1948 View Post


That's not what this says: "manufacturers using Android agree to preinstall specific Google Apps, set Google Search as the default search provider for all Web access points and preload Google's Network Location Provider service.…"

Note the first 3 words of the quote: "manufacturers using Android...." Nowhere does it say "licensing Google apps." That's presumptive based on the quid pro quo of installing those apps in favored position in exchange for permission to use Android on their devices.

Got it now?

 

Tell that to Amazon, B&N or Chinese Android device manufacturers. Ups, they don't use none of those services.

 

The article can say what it wants, what the DOCUMENTS are talking about is Google Services licensing. And perhaps is better quote the WSJ article

 

 

Quote:
The documents show that Google has imposed strict restrictions on device makers that want access to its search engine, YouTube or the more than one million apps in its Play Store

 

 

Got it?

post #8 of 206

Google : I will make your companies billions with my free product, all I ask is you use some of my other well known apps

OEM's : YEAH NO PROBLEM

post #9 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandon Powell View Post

Google : I will make your companies billions with my free product, all I ask is you use some of my other well known apps

OEM's : YEAH NO PROBLEM

Oops... that didn't work.

Isn't Samsung the only Android manufacturer that makes any money?

I guess Android isn't a cure-all.
post #10 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post

Tell that to Amazon, B&N or Chinese Android device manufacturers. Ups, they don't use none of those services.

The article can say what it wants, what the DOCUMENTS are talking about is Google Services licensing. And perhaps is better quote the WSJ article




Got it?
Not really. We are both right. Or both wrong. Or both right and wrong. According to the WSJ article, it reads more like you can use an uncustomized version if Android which includes Google Search and YouTube, you have to do these other things.

So it's really a combination of both apparently.
post #11 of 206

The documents are basically saying that you're free to use the open bits of Android, which is what Amazon and others have done. To use Android branding, you need to agree to terms that require preloading of certain apps. These apps come with their own stipulations, which is where the MADA comes in. Also, you probably don't want to build your own app store like Google Play. Take one app, you agree to all terms.

post #12 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by macaholic_1948 View Post


Not really. We are both right. Or both wrong. Or both right and wrong. According to the WSJ article, it reads more like you can use an uncustomized version if Android which includes Google Search and YouTube, you have to do these other things.

So it's really a combination of both apparently.

 

No you're flat out wrong.  Android can be used however by whomever.  Android with Google Play Services (what is sold as Android on most handsets) has certain requirements as you can see from the article.

post #13 of 206

lol fair enough

 

Google: I can potentially make you billions, but definitely make you millions.

 

OEM's: Can you show us how to run a business too and turn millions into billions?

 

Google: Sorry we're running the world maybe later

post #14 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikeycampbell81 View Post
 

The documents are basically saying that if you're free to use the open bits of Android, which is what Amazon and others have done. To use Android branding, you need to agree to terms that require preloading of certain apps. These apps come with their own stipulations, which is where the MADA comes in. Also, you probably don't want to build your own app store like Google Play. Take one app, you agree to all terms.

 

Android branding doesn't need to license apps.

post #15 of 206

lol fair enough

 

Google: I can potentially make you billions, but definitely make you millions.

 

OEM's: Can you show us how to run a business too and turn millions into billions?

 

Google: Sorry we're running the world maybe later

post #16 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by macaholic_1948 View Post


Not really. We are both right. Or both wrong. Or both right and wrong. According to the WSJ article, it reads more like you can use an uncustomized version if Android which includes Google Search and YouTube, you have to do these other things.

So it's really a combination of both apparently.

Wrong, AOSP doesn't include any of the Google applications.

post #17 of 206
http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/02/neither-microsoft-nokia-nor-anyone-else-should-fork-android-its-unforkable/

Read this article to understand what is the term "free Android" really means. It's free but it's "useless free".
post #18 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post

Wrong, AOSP doesn't include any of the Google applications.
Then I guess WSJ is wrong too.
post #19 of 206

all this word parsing is beside the real point. when you put these Google license terms together with how Google is evolving the overall Android OS itself (see the very important article http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/02/neither-microsoft-nokia-nor-anyone-else-should-fork-android-its-unforkable/ for the gory details), it is absolutely clear Google Android has become a master/slave relationship - with the OEM's as the slaves. even Samsung.

 

this certainly does remind of the MS Windows hegemony of yore, which likewise reduced OEM's to MS vassals trapped in a commodity product race to the bottom that many have now lost.

 

the ultimate irony is the one place this isn't happening is China and its Asian sphere, because the last truly good thing Google did - refusing to enable China's state censorship of the internet - resulted in their banishment from that huge market. i bet they never make that "mistake" again.

post #20 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post
 

 

Android branding doesn't need to license apps.

 

Poor choice of words, branding = trademark. 

post #21 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by macaholic_1948 View Post

Seems like Microsoft lost a lawsuit or two over a very similar policy when it required PC vendors to pre-installed IE in a favorable position on the Windows platform.

That's different. IE came from a dumb company, Android comes from a stupid company¡
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post #22 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikeycampbell81 View Post

 

Poor choice of words, branding = trademark. 

 



Is not requred licensing apps to use the Android trademark
post #23 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by macaholic_1948 View Post


Then I guess WSJ is wrong too.

 

I don't know, do you have the full text of the article?

post #24 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post

I don't know, do you have the full text of the article?
Linked in article.
post #25 of 206

One important thing folks should not overlook:

 

Android infringes on patented Apple technologies.

 

We know that from the $1 billion Samsung v. Apple verdict (in which similar damages have been imposed by two different juries!) as well as the recent ruling by Judge Koh in the second Samsung v. Apple trial in which she ruled that Samsung Android phones were infringing on a certain Apple patent.  

 

Why is this fact relevant?


Because it is those infringed Apple patents that enables Android phones to seriously compete with Apple products.  And because of this close-enough-parity with iOS, manufacturers are more than happy to agree to whatever terms Google imposes on them with regards to Android licensing.  The burden of Android licensing is far outweighed by the benefits of openly infringing on invaluable Apple patents, especially the Steve Jobs multitouch patents.  

 

If Android wasn't infringing on Apple patents, it wouldn't be as competitive and/or would be quite outdated and manufacturers would be less likely to use Android on their products and would instead migrate to alternatives such as Windows mobile.

 

The conclusion is that Google's power over the Android device manufacturers is partly based on continuing infringement of patented Apple technologies.

 

Stop the infringement (which Apple is trying through the courts) and Android degrades and in turn, Google's power over the manufacturers will also degrade.  

post #26 of 206

I imagine that for most handset makers Android is still a good deal. All they have to do is give priority to using the #1 search engine, a handful of popular and very useful apps (maps, translate, YouTube, etc.), and a ready-made, well-stocked app store. No licensing fees. What's not to like (from their perspective)? Those handset makers that also make PCs probably find Google's terms a heck of a lot better than those for getting Windows from Microsoft.

 

And speaking of Microsoft, there is the fly in the proverbial ointment. While Google may not charge fees, thanks to the Patent Wars Microsoft is making a bundle from patent licensing fees from these same firms. Oh yes, Apple and Nokia are also getting a piece of this action, but Microsoft is the big winner. Is it any wonder that, outside of Samsung-with-the-deep-pockets-and-lots-of-lawyers, none of these guys are making any appreciable profits?

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post #27 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by macaholic_1948 View Post


Linked in article.

 

The WSJ article is behind a paywall and in the excerpt there is no claim of what you said, do you have the full text?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kharvel View Post
 

One important thing folks should not overlook:

 

Android infringes on patented Apple technologies.

 

We know that from the $1 billion Samsung v. Apple verdict (in which similar damages have been imposed by two different juries!) as well as the recent ruling by Judge Koh in the second Samsung v. Apple trial in which she ruled that Samsung Android phones were infringing on a certain Apple patent.   

 

Why is this fact relevant?


Because it is those infringed Apple patents that enables Android phones to seriously compete with Apple products.  And because of this close-enough-parity with iOS, manufacturers are more than happy to agree to whatever terms Google imposes on them with regards to Android licensing.  The burden of Android licensing is far outweighed by the benefits of openly infringing on invaluable Apple patents, especially the Steve Jobs multitouch patents.  

 

If Android wasn't infringing on Apple patents, it wouldn't be as competitive and/or would be quite outdated and manufacturers would be less likely to use Android on their products and would instead migrate to alternatives such as Windows mobile.

 

The conclusion is that Google's power over the Android device manufacturers is partly based on continuing infringement of patented Apple technologies.

 

Stop the infringement (which Apple is trying through the courts) and Android degrades and in turn, Google's power over the manufacturers will also degrade.  

 

What? Apple vs Samsung trial ruling affected Samsung implementation, not AOSP implementation

post #28 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Scrip View Post

Oops... that didn't work.

Isn't Samsung the only Android manufacturer that makes any money?

I guess Android isn't a cure-all.

We know Android is making money. What we don't know is where they are making their money off of TVs or Android phones. The stock holders and board of directors are doing a lot of squawking over something...?

The other manufacturers are losing money... for one thing they can't compete with Samsung throwing 14 Billion into an advertising black hole.
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post #29 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

We know Android is making money. What we don't know is where they are making their money off of TVs or Android phones. The stock holders and board of directors are doing a lot of squawking over something...?

Android (the operating system) is making money for Google though advertising.

But I was talking about the manufacturers of phones that run Android. Some of them aren't making any money at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

The other manufacturers are losing money... for one thing they can't compete with Samsung throwing 14 Billion into an advertising black hole.

Exactly. Samsung is sucking the oxygen out of the Android handset industry. It's a touch business to be in.
post #30 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikeycampbell81 View Post
 

 

Poor choice of words, branding = trademark. 

 



Is not requred licensing apps to use the Android trademark

I think you're reading into this too literally. The licensing comes with the territory, resulting in an all-or-nothing approach that is arguably more restrictive to OEMs than what Google has portrayed publicly. 

post #31 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfiejr View Post
 

all this word parsing is beside the real point. when you put these Google license terms together with how Google is evolving the overall Android OS itself (see the very important article http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/02/neither-microsoft-nokia-nor-anyone-else-should-fork-android-its-unforkable/ for the gory details), it is absolutely clear Google Android has become a master/slave relationship - with the OEM's as the slaves. even Samsung.

 

Peter talks a lot of crap, you really shouldn't believe his articles. They're mostly just linkbait these days. There's actually a Google dev who responded to him pointing out how bad that article was.

 

Android is designed to be forked, you can start developing your own personalised phone OS from it right now. The only thing you probably can't do is run it on a real phone as you'll have to sign all sorts of restrictive licenses with Qualcomm etc just to get working drivers.

 

That's the bit that's hard to do, forking Android is a single command.

post #32 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post

But it's open?!?!
We can do what we want!!!
Is Google the new Apple?


No, Google is the new Microsoft. And considering all of the reports that Fandroids love pointing to where Google is dominating in market share with Android then I think that this might be close to being a monopoly violation. Google had better start praying that Apple's iOS keeps going strong because if it ever falters then I can assure you that it will be considered a monopoly violation and just like with Microsoft the governments will soon step in to force Google to give consumers a choice.

 

All that being said, it also makes very clear that Google isn't this wonderful bastion of "openness" fighting against the "walled gardern" of iOS for the people. Nope, it is just another evil, greedy corporation using the people who buy Android phones as a product. Funny that so many of them call people who like iOS sheep when they have more in common with sheep. As in people who own sheep taking something from them to make a profit, just like Google takes something, information, from Android users to make a profit.

 

So, BAH little Android sheep. Enjoy getting sheared. I for one would rather stay the customer.

post #33 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandon Powell View Post
 

lol fair enough

 

Google: I can potentially make you billions, but definitely make you millions.

 

OEM's: Can you show us how to run a business too and turn millions into billions?

 

Google: Sorry we're running the world maybe later

 

An Advertising agency running the world. What a disaster.

post #34 of 206

Seems a little, er... how to put it, evil?

post #35 of 206
Open open open ( unless you want Android to be useful).
post #36 of 206

Google: "We can show you how to make US billions. You'll spend millions to develop and market your product, and maybe (if you're lucky) break even."

 

Fixed it for ya.

post #37 of 206
I'm waiting for Gatorguy to explain what this all really means.
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post #38 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfiejr View Post
 

all this word parsing is beside the real point. when you put these Google license terms together with how Google is evolving the overall Android OS itself (see the very important article http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/02/neither-microsoft-nokia-nor-anyone-else-should-fork-android-its-unforkable/ for the gory details), it is absolutely clear Google Android has become a master/slave relationship - with the OEM's as the slaves. even Samsung.

 

No, more like a drug dealer/drug addict relationship. The dealer starts off almost giving away the drug to any potential addict. And when the drug user gets hooked, the dealer starts asking for more and more. Knowing that the user is now addicted and will be willing to pay more and more for the drug.  

post #39 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I'm waiting for Gatorguy to explain what this all really means.

 

The linked source is pretty readable. It seems that either you use all of Google's services or you don't. If you don't, you do the Amazon path of using AOSP and putting your own services on top.

 

I think the people saying it's not "open" don't really understand which part is supposed to be open and which isn't.

post #40 of 206
Between a half dozen Chinese producers, Amazon and now Nokia who are all using "Android" without using Google services I'm not sure what the concern is. HTC, Samsung or the soon-to-be-sold Motorola can all create their own versions if they want to. That makes "Android" pretty darn open IMO. The official Google Android version with licensed Google services is not. It comes with restrictions, as of course it would. That's what licenses do as a rule.
Edited by Gatorguy - 2/13/14 at 6:38am
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