Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 12th Nov 2016 22:32 UTC
Android

A few days ago, Google filed its official response to the EU antritrust investigation into Android. The company details its main arguments on the Android Blog, and it's definitely worth a read. The blog post is remarkably open about one of Android's main shortcomings - fragmentation.

To manage this challenge, we work with hardware makers to establish a minimum level of compatibility among Android devices. Critically, we give phone makers wide latitude to build devices that go above that baseline, which is why you see such a varied universe of Android devices. That's the key: our voluntary compatibility agreements enable variety while giving developers confidence to create apps that run seamlessly across thousands of different phones and tablets. This balance stimulates competition between Android devices as well as between Android and Apple's iPhone.

Android's compatibility rules help minimize fragmentation and sustain a healthy ecosystem for developers. Ninety-four percent of respondents who answered questions on fragmentation in a Commission market survey said that it harms the Android platform. Developers worry about it, and our competitors with proprietary platforms (who don't face the same risk) regularly criticize us for it. The Commission's proposal risks making fragmentation worse, hurting the Android platform and mobile phone competition.

The whole post is worth a read. As I've said before - I'm glad the EU keeps these large companies on their toes, but the accusations regarding Android seem way off base to me. In the end, market regulation needs to benefit consumers, not harm them - and it's easy to see how fragmenting Android into incompatible Samsung, Sony, HTC, and Google Androids would definitely harm consumers and developers alike.

I think there's a lot more fodder to be found looking at the relationship between companies like Samsung and Apple on the one hand, and carriers on the other. On top of that, the EU could've invested a lot more effort into fostering alternative platforms, instead of letting Microsoft ruin Nokia and run it into the ground (speaking of places where there's fodder to be found).

Nobody wants the proverbial Android N.

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Missing the point entirely
by emphyrio on Sun 13th Nov 2016 10:53 UTC
emphyrio
Member since:
2007-09-11

Th post seems to missing the point entirely, which is that, in Europe, the so-called voluntary pre-installation of the google app ecosystem is not voluntary at all, because it forces companies to install the entire package, or nothing from the package at all (so, no play store without google maps, for example). Normally this is all fine and legal, however, since google's android ecosystem is a monopoly in Europe such linked sales are prohibited.

At the moment this may not be damaging the consumer (this is doubtful), but google's policies, by leveraging the app store monopoly, are illegally making it more difficult for competitors of google's apps to enter the market.

Edited 2016-11-13 10:58 UTC

Reply Score: 10

RE: Missing the point entirely
by balaknair on Sun 13th Nov 2016 14:30 in reply to "Missing the point entirely"
balaknair Member since:
2013-11-02

Th post seems to missing the point entirely, which is that, in Europe, the so-called voluntary pre-installation of the google app ecosystem is not voluntary at all, because it forces companies to install the entire package, or nothing from the package at all (so, no play store without google maps, for example).


You can still release an Android device without Google's Play Services altogether, installing your own framework instead like Amazon, some Chinese handset makers, or Cyanogen Inc. None of the revenue from app store or search goes to Google there. Not really a monopoly there. And if you want Google Maps without the Play Store, buy the iPhone.

At the moment this may not be damaging the consumer (this is doubtful), but google's policies, by leveraging the app store monopoly, are illegally making it more difficult for competitors of google's apps to enter the market.


How difficult is it to install a competitor's services on Android? Even with the Play Store and Play Services installed. Whether it's a search widget, maps, browser, home screen launcher or media player. One of the things I like about Moto devices is that they have no bloatware preinstalled. But anytime I want to install something else, it's easy enough to do, and I can set it as the default app replacing whatever the device shipped with. And getting apps published on the Play store is nowhere near as difficult or arbitrary as doing so the Apple App Store. Many have long argued that Google needs to be stricter so as to keep low quality and/or malicious apps out of the Play Store.

What you are arguing is that Google should promote fragmentation even more and make things significantly less secure for users, so as to make it marginally easier for 'competitors of google's apps to enter the market'. That sounds like Eugene Kaspersky's argument against Windows Defender where he wants MS to delay releasing updates to Windows 10 to give even more time to third party AntiVirus developers to prepare their products. That's what the Insider Preview program is for. Delaying release of updates to consumers leaves them vulnerable for longer. Consumers are the ones Consumer Protection laws are supposed to benefit.

Edited 2016-11-13 14:34 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

emphyrio Member since:
2007-09-11

No, I am arguing that google is illegally using its monopoly to discourage phone companies from installing alternative applications.

This has nothing to do with android fragmentation.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Missing the point entirely
by jonsmirl on Sun 13th Nov 2016 15:06 in reply to "Missing the point entirely"
jonsmirl Member since:
2005-07-06

I am not all all for forcing Google to break up Google Play Services. For the most part that is a tightly integrated set of services that is mainly implemented on their cloud servers, not the phone. Trying to replace pieces of it will result in compatibility chaos.

The EU can make their own version of Google Play Services and install in on top of AOSP. That environment can use any mapping service they choose. Note that Amazon and Xiaomi do not use Google maps.

If the EU forces Google to break up GPS, the entire Android system will collapse. Competitors would quickly clone the app store and advertisement system taking all of the revenue away from Google. If the revenue leaves, Google would drop support for all of the other non-revenue pieces. A model like that is just theft, not innovation. I am somewhat suspicious that this is Microsoft's goal -- they want the EU to make it possible for them to steal Google's ad business.

If you want to compete, do all of the hard work, don't ask the government to let you come in and cherry pick all of the revenue away form someone else's work.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Missing the point entirely
by chithanh on Sun 13th Nov 2016 15:39 in reply to "Missing the point entirely"
chithanh Member since:
2006-06-18

Normally this is all fine and legal, however, since google's android ecosystem is a monopoly in Europe such linked sales are prohibited.

Android may be a monopoly in mobile operating systems, that is if you follow the EU's argument that Android and iOS are not competing with each other.

But the Play Store is definitely not a monopoly in mobile apps, as the Apple App Store is roughly as large by revenue and only somewhat smaller by download volume.

So even if Android were a monopoly, force-bundling the Play Store with Android devices (which Google does not do) would be illegal, but force-bundling Google Maps with the Play Store would still be legal.

Reply Parent Score: 2

emphyrio Member since:
2007-09-11

The play store is definitely a monopoly in the android space. Any non-apple smartphone without the play store installed is dead in the water in Europe.

Reply Parent Score: 2