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Google slapped with antitrust suit, accused of stagnating competition with Android MADA contracts

post #1 of 77
Thread Starter 
A class-action lawsuit filed against Google on Thursday claims the company used Android's Mobile Application Distribution Agreements (MADA) to extend an alleged monopoly over Internet and mobile search.



According to law firm Hagens Berman, who filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of two plaintiffs and Android handset owners, Google's MADA restrictions tamp down competition and thus inflate the cost of smartphones running the mobile operating system. In addition, the complaint says market competition would have improved search capabilities.

Google is accused of being in violation of both federal and state antitrust laws, including the Sherman Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, California Cartwright Act and the California Unfair Competition Law.

"It's clear that Google has not achieved this monopoly through offering a better search engine, but through its strategic, anti-competitive placement, and it doesn't take a forensic economist to see that this is evidence of market manipulation," said Hagens Berman founding partner Steve Berman. "Simply put, there is no lawful, pro-competitive reason for Google to condition licenses to pre-load popular Google apps like this."

The suit specifically targets Google's "bundled" or built-in apps like YouTube and GooglePlay, saying MADA contracts force manufacturers to include them and their respective terms in an all-or-nothing fashion. These agreements are usually strictly confidential, but documents made public as part of 2012's Oracle v. Google patent and copyright trial give an idea of how strict Google's MADA polices are for the "open" Android OS.

As for the proposed class, the lawsuit seeks to represent all U.S. consumers who purchased any Android phone or tablet with which Google and the device manufacturer signed contracts to pre load apps from the Internet search giant's suite of proprietary titles. This includes MADA agreements. The suit is looking for damages to be awarded to consumers who purchased an Android device sold "at an artificially high price."

For its part, Google told Re/code, "Anyone can use Android without Google and anyone can use Google without Android. Since Android's introduction, greater competition in smartphones has given consumers more choices at lower prices."
post #2 of 77

But but but but but but… Android is OPEN! 

post #3 of 77
As they say in the 'hood "this shit just got real"
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post #4 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

But but but but but but… Android is OPEN! 

Not Google Android. . . 1biggrin.gif
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post #5 of 77
Lol guys I know we hate google but I think it's a bullshit lawsuit... It's their shitty software, let them require some things to be on it. No one forces you to use them.
post #6 of 77
Yes, I think Google has acted anti-competively.
No, I think Google search (and Google Now) is superior to other options.
Yes, I think Google claiming Android is "open" just to restrict any useful apps to a separate licensing deal is disingenuous.
No, I don't see MADA as being anti-competitive.

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post #7 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by justp1ayin View Post

Lol guys I know we hate google but I think it's a bullshit lawsuit... It's their shitty software, let them require some things to be on it. No one forces you to use them.

Not so fast...you did notice that this 'bullshit' lawsuit has been filed by two phone companies? I wouldn't call that an idle threat.
post #8 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by justp1ayin View Post

No one forces you to use them.

That right there might be their only saving grace.
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post #9 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frac View Post

Not so fast...you did notice that this 'bullshit' lawsuit has been filed by two phone companies? I wouldn't call that an idle threat.

Two phone companies?
Quote:
The named plaintiffs include Gary Feitelson, a resident of Louisville, Kentucky and owner of an HTC EVO 3D mobile phone, and Daniel McKee, a resident of Des Moines, Iowa and owner of a Samsung Galaxy S III mobile phone.

It sounds like they wanted certain apps but not others but that's the only way Google offers it to vendors so they are claiming they are being charged for apps they don't want. Boo-fucking-Hoo! I won't use Newsstand or GPRS on my iPhone but it comes with them so if I want an iPhone I have to accept them as part of the product.

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post #10 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frac View Post

Not so fast...you did notice that this 'bullshit' lawsuit has been filed by two phone companies? I wouldn't call that an idle threat.

Looks like it's two Android phone owners. There's nary a mention of any handset manufacturers complaining in the AI provided link to their source article.
http://www.hbsslaw.com/cases-and-investigations/cases/google

EDIT: Pip'd by Soli. 1cool.gif
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post #11 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frac View Post

Not so fast...you did notice that this 'bullshit' lawsuit has been filed by two phone companies? I wouldn't call that an idle threat.

Judge: "phone manufacturer #1 why did you use the Android OS"

Phone manufacturer #1: "because we're too lazy and stupid to create our own"

Judge: "phone manufacturer #2 why did you use the Android OS"

Phone manufacturer #2: "same reason as #1"
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"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #12 of 77

You cannot use a monopoly ('dominant market position' is the more accurate term) in one market to establish a monopoly in another.  That's what tripped up Microsoft and what is in play here.  Whether the plaintiff lawyers have a credible case or not, I don't have enough info to hazard an opinion.

post #13 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Two phone companies?
It sounds like they wanted certain apps but not others but that's the only way Google offers it to vendors so they are claiming they are being charged for apps they don't want. Boo-fucking-Hoo! I won't use Newsstand or GPRS on my iPhone but it comes with them so if I want an iPhone I have to accept them as part of the product.

He read it wrong as did I
Quote:
According to law firm Hagens Berman, who filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of two plaintiffs and Android handset makers
.
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"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #14 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

You cannot use a monopoly ('dominant market position' is the more accurate term) in one market to establish a monopoly in another.  That's what tripped up Microsoft and what is in play here.  Whether the plaintiff lawyers have a credible case or not, I don't have enough info to hazard an opinion.

What monopoly? Android isn't a market and these apps are just on Android so it's not also not a market. And there is nothing keeping vendors from making their own Maps or video streaming apps that are preloaded on these devices. It would be like saying Apple has an iMessage monopoly they are abusing by not letting other OSes create iMessage apps.

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post #15 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


What monopoly? Android isn't a market and these apps are just on Android so it's not also not a market. And there is nothing keeping vendors from making their own Maps or video streaming apps that are preloaded on these devices. It would be like saying Apple has an iMessage monopoly they are abusing by not letting other OSes create iMessage apps.

 

Search monopoly, tied to Google's other services.

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post #16 of 77

I hate Android to the nth degree... that being said...

There are two handset makers, that want to use an OS (Android) that is developed and maintained by a separate company (Google) at no cost to the manufacturer, and the handset makers are b!tching that to use the FREE software, they have to install some apps that benefit the company that is doing all the work to make their handset actually useful?  Really people?

No one is stopping them from creating their own phone OS and ecosystem!  Oh wait, that would involve doing work!!

The world is full of whiners!

post #17 of 77
Not sure about this.
On a separate issue what strikes me is that how lame are bing and yahoo not to be able to improve their search. Lately google's results are far less relevant than they used to be before they shook things up, in order to make users click more on ads, and yet yahoo and bing are even worse than that.
post #18 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

What monopoly? Android isn't a market and these apps are just on Android so it's not also not a market. And there is nothing keeping vendors from making their own Maps or video streaming apps that are preloaded on these devices. It would be like saying Apple has an iMessage monopoly they are abusing by not letting other OSes create iMessage apps.
Reminded me of microsoft and internet explorer
post #19 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by water cooler View Post

Reminded me of microsoft and internet explorer

Except alternatives are much easier to get.
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"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #20 of 77

Regardless of this lawsuit, its only a matter of time before Google has to change their strategy up. Mobile devices are gonna keep taking profits from them because most of us would rather pull of the yelp App instead of google where to eats. iAd will benefit that iOS users actually use their phone as a data device.

post #21 of 77

Not a fan of Google or Android, but...

What is limiting anyone from FORKING android, giving it a new name + new apps/media store and launching it on their own? I don't have a Kindle Fire, does it come bundled with YouTube, Google Play and the rest of the Google apps? How about the Nokia X? That was also a Fork of Jelly Bean.

post #22 of 77
'Google slapped with antitrust suit' is just such a wonderful example of onomatopoeia.
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post #23 of 77
AWESOME.

Apple gets sued for making its own phones and software to go on those phones because they essentially have a "forced" eco-system. Google was so enamoured with telling us how Apple's system is evil because it's closed...

Welcome shoe to the other foot.
post #24 of 77

Very odd lawsuit, then again I never saw a problem with Microsoft including Internet Explorer with Windows either.  The "worst" current "offender" I can think of would be Apple in how they don't allow competing apps for things that they provide.  Want a different keyboard?  Nope, that's not allowed.  However, I don't have a problem with that either (hence the quotation marks around worst and offender).  This uniformity is a defining feature in Apple products and I think it works to the benefit of the iOS ecosystem.  It allows for a familiarity across devices that doesn't exist on the same level for platforms like Android, Windows, etc.  It also makes software development easier as you only have one target to hit in certain areas as opposed to multiple flavors with the possibility of new flavors being added in the future.

 

The only thing I can think of that could hold water in this case is that many (but not all) of the Google apps come pre-installed as "system apps".  On an Android device, a "system app" cannot be removed without rooting your phone so for the purposes of a lawsuit it would be a legitimate argument to say that removing them is not possible.  That's memory space you can't get back even if you don't want the app.  Of course, this is a double edged sword.  Back to the keyboard example, Google Keyboard comes installed as a system app (at least it does on my phone).  One can choose alternatives, but you can't remove Google Keyboard without rooting.  However, by allowing someone to uninstall it they would then have the ability to uninstall all keyboard apps on the phone and leave themselves keyboard-less.  That would make the device pretty unusable without a bit of tech savy-ness to get one back on.  YouTube also came pre-installed on my phone as a system app.  I can think of no reason that it needs to be that way from a technical perspective.  A user can't break the phone's core funcionality by removing the YouTube app and therefore it shouldn't be a system app, IMO.

post #25 of 77

I think they have a valid point and have a very good chance at succeeding with their lawsuit. Here is why.

 

It is reasonable for a phone to be priced at the cost to make it including manufacturing costs, development costs, licensing costs, etc. plus a profit margin (yes I know that is lacking in the minds of some phone manufacturers for some inexplicable reason but a reasonable person would include it). One way to lower your costs is to include software that developers are willing to pay to have included on your phones. Programs that would likely be the most profitable for the developer, and thus the developer would be willing to pay the phone manufacturer the greatest amount to have included on a phone, would likely include a search tool and a youtube front end that in itself is paid for by advertising. 

 

Google knows that they are an advertising agency that provides 'free' stuff to consumers to generate advertising revenue for themselves. I think that Apple's restricting of advertising on Google's Youtube app originally included with iOS and Google seeing that Apple was potentially setting itself up as king maker for mobile advertising, was the reason behind Google's Android play. Google wants, needs, the advertising control. Without it, they are a flash in the pan.

 

If these developers are successful in wrenching search, youtube, and other Google revenue apps from the Android license, Google is no controls its destiny and is a very vulnerable company.

post #26 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

But but but but but but… Android is OPEN! 

 

True. Like Linux that it is based on, the underlying OS layers of Android will remain open source (AOSP), but all the new services required by MDMA are not. The tech world is slowly catching on the Google's strategy, but Google will continue to confuse people by branding the entire stack of open and non-open software as simply "Android." And that's outright disingenuous.

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post #27 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by justp1ayin View Post

Lol guys I know we hate google but I think it's a bullshit lawsuit... It's their shitty software, let them require some things to be on it. No one forces you to use them.

The real issues are related to the anti-fragmentation clauses. If you sign the MADA agreements, you can only do the full certified Google android. You cannot put out a standard android device also. You must certify every firmware load with an agent of Googles and pay for the privilege. It also means you cannot use third party services to replace Googles. Their agreements are totally anti-competitive due to locking you in and locking other options and vendors out.
post #28 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by DroidFTW View Post

Very odd lawsuit, then again I never saw a problem with Microsoft including Internet Explorer with Windows either.  The "worst" current "offender" I can think of would be Apple in how they don't allow competing apps for things that they provide. 

That's not true. There are various office, mapping, messaging, browsers, mail, stocks, weather, video chat, notes, reminders, and pretty much every other default app and Apple-created App Store app you can think of in the App Store.
Quote:
Want a different keyboard?  Nope, that's not allowed.

Sure it is. You can attach any BT keyboard want or choose from various keyboard setups in Settings. If you're a developer you can also build your own custom keyboard. What can't be done is allow a developer to release just a keyboard app that will then get access too all other apps that need a keyboard which can potentially be mining your data and sending it back to some server in ██████.
Edited by SolipsismX - 5/1/14 at 8:15pm

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post #29 of 77

This is retarded... you can replace the word Google... with Apple or Microsoft with respect to their handsets.

 

I am sorry but people like this give Americans a bad name... talk about a 1st world problem.

 

My advice to them is suck it up princess or go buy an iPhone one Windows phone.... there are other choices.

post #30 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

That right there might be their only saving grace.

But but market share!!!
post #31 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

You can attach any BT keyboard want or choose from various keyboard setups in Settings. If you're a developer you can also build your own custom keyboard.

 

:rolleyes:

post #32 of 77

Wait! those this mean I can sue my cable provider? Because they are colluding with content providers by adding channels that I don't watch to the price the cable company is quoting me? /S

post #33 of 77

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post #34 of 77

It seems that some people don't understand what exactly everyone was up in arms over as far as Windows and Internet Explorer... No one had a problem with Microsoft bundling Internet Explorer with Windows - the problem was that Microsoft tied the browser to the OS, meaning it was impossible to get rid of and clicking on any links presented by the OS opened up Internet Explorer and not the user's browser of choice. It was dead simple to download and use any other browser, but you were still stuck with IE whether you wanted it or not.

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post #35 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by petrosy View Post
 

This is retarded... you can replace the word Google... with Apple or Microsoft with respect to their handsets.

 

 

Yes you can with Microsoft, but not with Apple because Apple is not in the same market as Google and Microsoft.

 

Google and Microsoft compete in the handset market: phones upon which you can, in theory, install any operating system you like.

 

Apple is in a market by itself: the iPhone market; the OS and the phone is a single entity that cannot be split. 

 

The difference is subtle, but from a legal standpoint, it means Apple do what it likes because the iPhone and the operating system is one entity.

 

Android and the phone are two entities: the operating system running on a separate device – and the separate device is the marketplace in which Google has the majority share. Microsoft also competes in this market, but its share is very small, so Android is essentially a monopoly – and an entirely legal one. (There's no such thing as an illegal monopoly, though how you maintain that monopoly can be illegal.)

 

What's really interesting here is that this is the same distinction that scuppered MS years ago. Because you installed Windows on a machine, the marketplace was PCs, and Microsoft (through the bizarre practice of forcing OEMs to pay for Windows licenses whether they installed Windows on the machine or not) was creating a barrier to entry to this market: manufacturers would not install Linux because they'd already paid for a Windows license. This is illegal.

 

The case against Google is that they are using their monopoly position in one market (the handset market), to gain a monopoly position in another (video streaming and app stores running on the handset). This is illegal, but the lawyers have to prove that that is what Google is doing. 

 

The handset manufacturers want to differentiate their offerings by being able to have their own video streaming services and app stores, but they claim that Google's market leveraging is preventing them from gaining a foothold in video streaming and app stores. They are probably right, but this ignores the fact that they would create massive fragmentation by doing so.

 

So why does Apple get away with not allowing competing services on the iPhone? Because the platform is the whole device. When you buy an iPhone, you're buying the whole thing, not a phone (the market) and an operating system (a player in that market), and Apple can legally dictate what runs on the whole thing. If you don't like it then there is nothing stopping you from getting another phone, which the vast majority of people do. If Apple licensed the OS to other manufacturers then they could not legally stop you from running whatever you want on your phone, in much the same way that MS tried to dictate what you ran on your PC.

post #36 of 77

"Simply put, there is no lawful, pro-competitive reason for Google to condition licenses to pre-load popular Google apps like this."

 

This is like complaining that Apple prohibits carriers that sell the iPhone from preloading their own apps at all. Third parties have far more opportunities to compete with Google on Android than with Apple on iOS, for the simple reason that the Android system lets the OEMs and carriers set their pet apps as default, as Verizon has done in the past with the hope that uninformed customers would use the paid VZ Navigator app instead of Google Maps.

post #37 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by d4NjvRzf View Post

...for the simple reason that the Android system lets the OEMs and carriers set their pet apps as default, as Verizon has done in the past with the hope that uninformed customers would use the paid VZ Navigator app instead of Google Maps.

Google lets the vendors and carriers hobble and lock down the device so that it's inconstant with other Android-based systems across difference carriers, vendors, and even models which hurts the user experience. When this is mentioned the canned answer is to install a custom ROM, as if that's something that users would want to do with a new device. When that is brought up the canned answer is that those people shouldn't use smartphones. Such a lovely group.

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post #38 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Yes, I think Google has acted anti-competively.
No, I think Google search (and Google Now) is superior to other options.
Yes, I think Google claiming Android is "open" just to restrict any useful apps to a separate licensing deal is disingenuous.
No, I don't see MADA as being anti-competitive.

Yes, I accept your opinion.
Yes, I’ll ignore it.
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post #39 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by justp1ayin View Post

Lol guys I know we hate google but I think it's a bullshit lawsuit... It's their shitty software, let them require some things to be on it. No one forces you to use them.

 

I dunno man, when Microsoft forced IE on users to monopolize the internet amongst other things the DOJ was not very kind to them and their arrogance.

post #40 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


Judge: "phone manufacturer #1 why did you use the Android OS"

Phone manufacturer #1: "because we're too lazy and stupid to create our own"

Judge: "phone manufacturer #2 why did you use the Android OS"

Phone manufacturer #2: "same reason as #1"

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post
 

I hate Android to the nth degree... that being said...

There are two handset makers, that want to use an OS (Android) that is developed and maintained by a separate company (Google) at no cost to the manufacturer, and the handset makers are b!tching that to use the FREE software, they have to install some apps that benefit the company that is doing all the work to make their handset actually useful?  Really people?

No one is stopping them from creating their own phone OS and ecosystem!  Oh wait, that would involve doing work!!

The world is full of whiners!

 

In what way is Samsung lazy then, given they have developed, not one, but two phone OSs?

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