Print 113 comment(s) - last by Reclaimer77.. on May 8 at 2:43 PM

Google does dominate sales -- but is it a natural monopoly or the result of abuse?

To fans of Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android OS, the company is the defender of freedom and choice.  Many also praise the company for helping to drive down costs versus companies like Apple, Inc. (AAPL) that charge large markups on their devices for small upgrades like a few more GBs (gigabytes) of storage.
I. Android -- Open or Secretly Closed?
But a new lawsuit from self-proclaimed "consumer rights" law firm Hagens Berman has painted Google's role in the mobile industry in a far different light.  
The lawsuit raised eyebrows due to the high-profile lawyers filing it.  

Gavel and Android

The filing firm is currently locked in a high-profile legal battle against General Motors Comp. (GM) over the deaths caused by faulty ignition switches that have since been recalled. Hagens Berman -- considered a top expert in its field -- also recently recovered $1.4B USD in a class action settlement regarding unintended acceleration in certain Toyota Motor Corp. (TYO:7203) vehicles back in 2010.
The new lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, says that Google -- whose operating system is loaded on roughly five out of every six smartphones and two out of every three tablets globally -- is acting as an abusive monopoly.
The crux of its argument comes down to a set of little known details that explain how Google turned its open source software project into a serious moneymaker.
All of the claims in the case currently revolve around the fact that Google's platform currently controls large leads in both tablet and smartphone unit sales.  At the same time, one basic accusation is that Google has engaged in anticompetitive bundling, similar to the kind the EU took Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) to task for.
These claims may come as a shock to some Android fans, but less of a shock to others.  After all, there have always been questions about how open Android really is.  One cannot deny that Google has been flexing its muscle more of late.  Thus the case must be examined in the context of the past, present, and future of the world's most used mobile device platform.
II. From the Begin Android was Committed to Openness, But as a Means to an End
From the start, you could make a case that Android -- and later Google -- would use "openness" as an end to achieve a means: mobile ad dollars.
It's hard to escape the feeling that Android -- even before Google owned it -- leaned on open source more as a crutch or selling point, rather than a guiding philosophy.  Android CEO and cofounder Andy Rubin would later state that the goal of founding Android was to offer "smarter mobile devices that are more aware of its owner's location and preferences".  In other words, from day one the objective of Android was to create a targeted advertising driven monetization scheme.

Mobile Ads
Since day one Android was focused on mobile ad clicks. [Image Source: Google]

But Mr. Rubin correctly identified that it was highly difficult for a veteran PC maker like Apple or Microsoft to launch a branded smartphone product, much less a relative unknown like his company.  And since his model was based on ad revenue, it was crucial to maximize unit sales.  That organically led to Android opting to go open source and free of licensing fees, in order to try to win OEMs to its side.
The startup would soon gain a powerful, like-minded backer.  In 2005 Google -- which had pioneered the model of offering paid-quality content for free via the enhanced revenue of targeted advertising -- acquired Android.  Over the next two years Google would continue to grow its team, quietly preparing an open source mobile operating system with a selection of key utility apps and firmware.
Android was officially announced in Nov. 2007, just months after late Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced his market-shifting iPhone.  Perhaps because of the close relationship between Steve Jobs and then-Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Google carefully watched and to some degree borrowed from key elements of Apple's strategy at a time when it was viewed as a mere novelty.

Steve Jobs iPhone
The iPhone would eventually force veteran phonemakers into defense mode.
[Image Source: Getty Images]

For example in 2007, Apple was the first OEM to offer multi-touch, a product that had been tested in the 1980s but was slow to see commercial adoption.  Apple was also obsessive in its focus on graphics, an approach that differentiated it.  This was particularly crucial, give how low-resolution smartphone screens were at a time.
These moves left veteran phonemakers like Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935) and Motorola scrambling to keep up.  At the time they were allied with Google, but were wary of sharing their precious revenue with Google and relying on such an unproven partner.
III. The iPhone Disruption
But Google moved faster than them in adding the key features that were driving the iPhone's success.
Android sneaky
Android appeared the easiest route to a polished iPhone alternative back in 2008.
[Image Source: TNW]

And Android would soon prove it wasn't just leaning on market veterans and Apple alike for inspiration.  It would unveil features like a notifications center (again, a Linux idea brought into the mobile space).  The model would eventually be copied by Google's rivals, but the credit went to Google for popularizing it.
It also in Nov. 2007 announced its intention to create a third-party marketplace, with an easy to use SDK (software developer kit) designed to allow Java bytecode apps capable of running on a variety of Android devices.  At around the same Mr. Jobs reversed his earlier prohibition on third-party apps, wisely embracing developers.
Again, most didn't take this too seriously, but after the launch of the iPhone 3G in 2008 and with it the App Store, Google was again left as the only one who was offering a full-fledged alternative to Apple at the time.
If veterans like Samsung and Motorola needed any more prodding to join, it came with the release of the "G1" smartphone by HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) -- a newcomer to the OEM business.

The HTC G1, the first major Android release

At the time critics raved that the HTC device was one of the best alternatives to the iPhone, much to the chagrin of Samsung and Motorola, which were still experimenting with iPhone challengers running less polished proprietary operating systems.  The OEMs were forced to swallow their doubts, and before long their smartphone efforts were almost entirely centered around Google.
IV. Tensions Grow as Honeycomb Closes Source
But as their success grew and Android adoption exploded to become the world's most used mobile operating system, quiet tensions began to brew behind the scenes between Google and the OEMs.
Google -- which cared most about having a strong brand that consumers wanted -- was frustrated at OEMs for a sluggish pace of firmware updates.  Google would also grow concerned about the rising dominance of Samsung, which by 2011 was starting outpace other Android OEMs globally.
To partner firms and other outsiders like, Inc. (AMZN), which was eyeing a tablet companion to its popular Kindle eReaders, the frustration was with Google.  It only shared a small cut of ad revenue with its partners and declined to share any substantial portion of its minority portion of proceeds from paid app sales.  Companies liked Android, but disliked Google's efforts to monetize it, efforts which primarily benefited Google.
Amazon began toying with the idea of an LCD-based tablet as early as 2010.  According to some rumors it met with Google, but was unhappy with Google's demands for certification when it came to revenue sharing.
Perhaps in response to the failure to reach a partnership agreement with Amazon, Google made the controversial decision of closing its first dedicated tablet operating system's source -- Android v3.0 "Honeycomb".  This decision -- made with Honeycomb's release in Dec. 2010 -- led to Google's first widespread spat with the open source community, and led to a rather shrill response from Google in light of media criticism.

Android Honeycomb
The open source community wasn't happy with Google's decision to close the Honeycomb source, but they were stuck with it. [Image Source: Google]

Part of what added insult to the injury of the temporary closed sourcing was Google's threat to potential Android v2.2 "Froyo" adopters in the tablet space was that it might cut their access to the app store if they released non-Honeycomb tablet products.  The spat was the first real sign that the Android situation was more complex than its backers would wish.
In 2011, Vision Mobile compared Android to MeeGo, Linux, Qt, WebKit, Mozilla, Eclipse and Symbian in terms of "openness" and came to the conclusion that Google's project was the least "open".
Open Source project openness
It wrote:

We found Android to be the most "closed" open source project. In the Open Governance Index, Android scores low with regard to timely access to source code in that the platform does not provide source code to all developers at the same time; it clearly prioritises access to specific developer groups or organisations and has acknowledged this with the delayed release of Honeycomb. Additionally Android scores low with regard to access to developer support mechanisms, publicly available roadmap, transparent decision-making processes, transparency of code contributions process, accessibility to become a committer (in that external parties cannot 'commit' code to the project) and constraints regarding go-to-market channels.
Android’s success may have little to do with the open source licensing of its public codebase. Android would not have risen to its current ubiquity were it not for Google’s financial muscle and famed engineering team. More importantly, Google has made Android available at zero cost, since Google’s core business is not software or search, but driving eyeballs to ads. As is now well understood, Google’s strategy has been to subsidise Android such that it can deliver cheap handsets and low-cost wireless Internet access in order to drive more eyeballs to Google’s ad inventory.

Critics alleged that Google quickly grew to pressuring OEMs to comply with its policies in order to get certified to use Android's core services like Google Play, Google Maps, and Gmail.

The use of denying OEMs apps that Google claims are "free" is one key topic of the class action lawsuit filed last week.  In a press release Hagens Berman writes:

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Google’s monopoly of these markets stems from the company’s purchasing of Android mobile operating system (Android OS) to maintain and expand its monopoly by pre-loading its own suite of applications onto the devices by way of secret Mobile Application Distribution Agreements (MADA). According to the suit, these agreements were hidden and marked to be viewed only by attorneys.

According to the suit, Google’s role in placing this suite of apps, including Google Play, and YouTube, among others, has hampered the market and kept the price of devices made by competing device manufacturers like Samsung and HTC artificially high.

That comment would seem to suggest that in addition to what we already know about the Android certification process and its role in pressure OEMs, there's perhaps some surprises in store -- surprises that Google looked to keep out of the public eye via the closed-door, legally-bound-by-secrecy sessions it holds with partners.

V. Amazon Leads Rebellion With Branching

But the approach did little to stop the brewing OEM resistance to Google's policies.

In an effort to corner more of the profit, many OEMs took to either swapping out some of Google's core apps or forking Android and opting for a full replacement set of apps.  This approach was possible because many parts of Android -- perhaps as a selling point -- were open source.

The kernel has always been licensed under the permissive GNU GPL v2, and likely will continue to be.  At the time Android was substantially more "open" from a source perspective, as well given that most low level APIs were licensed under moderately permissive open source terms, such as the Apache License 2.0.

Google still wielded the stick of certification -- required to gain access to key apps.  But it could quickly see that it was losing its grip on OEMs and running the risk of rampant branching.

Kindle Fire original
Kindle Fire (original)

But even with the closed Honeycomb source and threat of app denial, certification proved an important deterrent, as the not-so-secret development of Amazon's Kindle Fire sharply illustrated.
With Honeycomb unavailable, Amazon simply scooped up an early version of Android for smartphones, forking it and swapping out Google's apps for its own alternatives.  At the same time it still was able to enjoy much of the fruits of Google's hard work -- its open source SDKs.  The availability of these SDKs not only cut the development time for an OEM like Amazon, they also ensured a quick port from Google's app market to a third-party app store.
But Google's efforts to wrangle the unruly OEMs not only seemed to backfire in sales growth -- it ultimately failed to stymie the genesis of the Kindle Fire, exactly the kind of device Google appeared eager to avoid.
The trouble was, it had worked so hard to avoid OEMs unbundling its monetization technology, that it had stunted its platform's own growth in the process.  The Kindle Fire was imperfect, but it came at an attractive price and with seemingly more content than Google had been able to convince its divided Android ranks to offer at the time.
By the time the Kindle Fire came along, Google was still trying to sell customers on Honeycomb.  In many ways Fire OS channeled the free spirit of early Android adoption, and the difference between it and the stunted Honeycomb was hard to ignore.  Many flocked to Amazon's platform, which some viewed as the first strong competitor to Apple's iPad, which by then was in its third generation.
VI. After Sales Failure of Honeycomb, Google Changes Approach
While some backlash against the closed sourced, unpolished Honeycomb seemed inevitable, what was surprising was just how strong it had been.
You could blame Honeycomb's failure to stick on any number of things, but recall that lack of polish hadn't really stopped early builds of Android from catch on.  In terms of modern user expectations, the iPhone 3G was in many ways closer to the smartphones of today than the HTC G1, which came out months later.  But Honeycomb seemed unable to get over the hurdle, in part because the glowing positivity that the "open" Android of the smartphone space was hailed with had given way to tepid apathy and negativity, amid the first signs of a darker, less open brand of Android.

Android malware
Honeycomb was Android's first major miss.  [Image Source: Sin Amigos]

For the two years of the Honeycomb era, Android failed to mirror its dominance in the smartphone market; Apple's iPad dominated sales against the restricted, less-supported Honeycomb OS.
Aside from the modestly successful Samsung Galaxy Tab (which was powered by the smartphone Android v2.2 "Froyo" OS, not Honeycomb) early Android tablets like the Motorola Xoom, Dell Streak (eventually discontinued), or Acer Inc. (TPE:2353Iconia proved market flops or disappointments.
Motorola Xoom
Motorola's ill-fated Xoom was a typical example of the sales struggles of the closed-sourced, unpolished Honeycomb.

The success of the Kindle Fire made it very difficult for Google to continue on its course.  Within a month of the Fire's release, Google removed the open source blockade with the announcement of Android v4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" in 2012.
The approach seemed to rekindle Android's hopes in the tablet sector.  Newcomers like ASUSTEK Computer, Inc.'s (TPE:2357) quickly showed that Google wasn't dead in the tablet market.  Google's decision to unify and reopen the tablet source -- which Google insisted was in the cards all along -- slowly rebuilt Android's momentum in the tablet sector.

Transformer Prime
ASUSTek was among the top early success stories of the Android Ice Cream Sandwich tablet revival.

That's not to say that there aren't some mysteries of why Ice Cream Sandwich was able to do what Android Honeycomb could not.  
One curious question is why there was such a relative lack of affordably priced Android Honeycomb tablets.  Perhaps this was mere timing and a combination of other factors, or perhaps this had something to do with Google's undisclosed requirements for Honeycomb.  Either way, one undeniable upside of Ice Cream Sandwich was a key driver of Android adoption in its early smartphone days -- a lower cost of entry for budget buyers.
VII. Google Tolerates Android Reskinning, Eyes Microsoft's Android Branch Warily
Google's initial Ice Cream Sandwich came with a stern warning to smartphone and tablet partners to tone down their reskinning efforts.
And OEMs responded to some extent, even as Google backed off its plans to "ban" third-party skins like HTC's Sense UI, Motorola's "MotoBlur", and Samsung's Touchwiz.
HTC BlinkFeed
Google ultimately declined to make any bold moves to "kill" OEM skins like HTC's Sense UI, allowing them full access to its apps, as long as they play by its fundamental rules.

Forking continued.  It wasn't quite as dire as Google feared, as in many ways its threat of app denial appeared to have worked (as the new lawsuit claims).  Whether or not it broke antitrust laws is open to debate, but Amazon would lose some steam to become just another player in the tablet market, eventually overshadowed by Samsung, which is today the world's second largest tablet maker.
A number of Chinese OEMs also forked Android, but this again wasn't as grave an issue as it seemed at one time.  China was already a hard-to-monetize market for Google and dominated by third-party app stores. So if anything these forks might have been a bit of a blessing for Google, disassociating it with China's malware-laden mass of Android phones and tablets.
But a more flagrant test to Google's policies has since come the recently acquired Nokia Devices announced a version of Android that was forked and reskinned to look like Windows Phone

Nokia X
Google will likely make nothing off Microsoft's Nokia X devices, which were based on a branched version of Android, reskinned to look like Windows Phone.

It replaced the Chrome browser with a Nokia Devices-developed alternative, it replaced the app store with an app port of Nokia's Ovi store, and it replaced Google Maps with Nokia Oyj.'s (HEX:NOK1V) HERE.  Even more so than Amazon's Fire OS branch of Android or the various Chinese braches, Microsoft/Nokia's branch of Android systematically stripped the OS of Google's data mining and ad-driving apps and replaced them with its own alternatives.
But if Google is upset about Nokia X it isn't doing so publicly.
VIII. App Duplication Proves More of a Win For Google, Loss for OEMs
These days there are so many stock Android devices, that Google's biggest priority has been to try to force its top OEM partners not to strip out its apps.  HTC, Samsung, and others were quite fond of replacing Google's apps with third-party derivatives.
Since day one Google could choose to some extent how it wanted to deal with this as its apps were, as mentioned, mostly proprietary since Android first launched.  Given that OEMs typically would want to leave most of the stock Android apps intact, Google originally opted to ignore this potential annoyance and let OEMs customize as they saw fit.

Ice Cream Sandwich
Rather than crack down on OEM reskins with v4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Google took a less controversial approach, opting to force OEMs to package its app as well, despite the redundance, when offering custom replacements to some of it core apps.

But recently -- it appears sometime around the advent of Android v4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" -- that policy began to shift behind closed doors, according to numerous reports.  Google offered OEMs a simple condition for certification to use its app bundle -- which is today collectively known as the Google Mobile Services (GMS) suite: take it all, or take none.
OEMs have by and large chosen the former option, but they have somewhat skirted Google's efforts by simply bundling two apps -- one made by Google, and one made in-house.  The upside to this approach is that some percentage of users will use its app, which in the case of mobile browsers and other ad-friendly apps means new monetizing opportunities.
Clearly, OEMs like Samsung are less than happy with this state.  One unfortunate reality for them is that often their apps just aren't as good as Google's.  As the effects of Windows bundling on Microsoft's Internet Explorer market share in Europe showed, many users are lazy and will opt for even a bad app over a good one.  In Google's case it not only bundles in, but also it's often the better app. This represents a combination of competitive excellence -- and perhaps anticompetitive tactics -- that make it hard to beat.
Top OEMs clearly feel it's their brand and products that's selling devices, more so than the underlying OS.  If they can't unbundle Android's core apps, some appear on the verge of considering phasing out Android for now.  For these companies, likely the biggest thing holding them back is lack of compelling alternatives.
Samsung is actively exploring a potential escape route with Tizen, a mobile Linux competitor to Android.


And other OEMs have eyed Firefox OS (also based on a mobile Linux kernel) as an Android fill-in.  But these solutions will have to mature in order to prove a real threat to Android.
For now, Google's bundling and certification policies have OEMs right where it wants them.
IX. KitKat Brings Troubling SDK Purge
And when it comes to companies like Amazon and Microsoft, Google's most recent Android v4.4 "KitKat" release brings a tough new deterrent to forking, one which has largely flew under the radar.  Android KitKat brings many SDKs that were previously open source into the Play ecosystem.  No longer will developers of forked Android distributions be able to use the previously open SDKs of Location, In-App Billing, and Remote Syncing.  Even security is at risk, as OEMs that opt to fork will also now lose access to Google's Mobile Malware Prevention.
The net impact of this policy has yet to be seen.  But in the long term it appears the open parts of Android are slowly becoming proprietary.  Google's approach is that it will give you its open source "vehicle", but it's stripped out the seats, the stereo, the trim, the wheels, and more, leaving you with the task of repairing a wreck that's basically unusable in its present state.

Android Closing
Android is removing many key SDK components (APIs) from its its open source package, shuffling them into its proprietary Play package. [Image Source: Vision Mobile]

That's a key thing that most don't realize.  The open parts of Android are no longer enough to make an actual phone.  A project that was once deemed mobile's "least open open source project" has found a way to become even less open, while defiantly continuing to brand itself "open source software".
That's not to say that Google has necessarily broken the law.  So far most nations whose regulators have examine the Android monopoly and its criticisms say that it's largely a natural monopoly born of its own merits.  If Google acted in an anticompetitive manner, it did so in only smaller ways, allowing Google to avoid the big antitrust fines that companies like rocked Microsoft and Intel Corp. (INTC) -- for now at least.
At the same time legal woes have meant Google's dominant position in mobile device unit sales (roughly 5 out of every 6 smartphones and 2 out of every 3 tablets), isn't as easy to exploit.  Android OEMs have faced lawsuits and bans from Apple, Nokia, and Microsoft.  They typically settle, but settling isn't cheap.  According to testimony in the latest court case, part of Apple and Samsung's confidential licensing deal for Android included an assurance that Google will pay part of the court damages if features it distributes are the source of infringement damages.
While the recent verdict in the second trial between Apple and Samsung Electronics was a relative win for Samsung and Android, it will likely cost Google.  Samsung's arrangement will likely lead to a payout after a jury found some features in Android that shipped on Samsung phones infringed on a trio of Apple software patents.
X. Will the Future of Android Be Open or Closed?
The Hagens Berman suit offers a new challenge to Google, as it appears to offer a more nuanced criticism that has been slowly festering within the Android movement and Google's own alliance.

Android money
The new suit against Android may be motivated by greed, but it provokes a necessary discussion into the platform's future. [Image Source: Play Store/Amber Money]

Hagens Berman partner Steve Berman remarks:

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

The more use an internet or mobile search engine gets, the better it performs based on that use.  Instead of finding a way to legitimately out-compete other internet and mobile search providers, they instead decided to choke off competition through this cynical, anti-consumer scheme.

This comes down to a combination of Google’s power in the U.S. general mobile search market and their power in the realm of tablet and smartphone manufacturers.  As a result of the pricing conspiracy, everyone loses. Google and its competitors face an uncompetitive, stagnant market, and consumers are forced into one option.

Given his firm's track record on such cases, it's entirely possible that Google could be beaten in court or forced into an early settlement.  At the end of the day this will largely be a payout to lawyers – namely, Mr. Berman's firm -- in fees, leaving customers with perhaps a small per-device refund.
But even if the lawyers in this case are likely motivated at least in part from the profit a win of some kind would bring, that doesn't discount that there is some validity to what they're arguing.  Such a savvy firm wouldn't even consider such a case if Google's actions hadn't created a fairly strong likelihood of doubt in its own ability to win in court.  In fact, looking at what has been stated thus far in some regards they haven't even said all of Google's questionable actions (e.g. the recent push to move Android's SDK's into the proprietary bundle of software).

Moff Tarkin and Leia
After playing such a progressive and disruptive role in the mobile industry, Google now finds itself in a dominant position and is falling dangerously towards a "Tarkin Doctrine".
[Image Source: LucasFilm/Disney]

Unlike past lawsuits between Google and its rivals, this court battle could actually have a positive outcome for Android users.  It raises valid arguments and represents a firestorm of coming negative publicity for Android; it may force Google to rethink its Tarkin doctrine of gripping OEMs tighter to try to prevent them from escaping.
You could argue that the case represents a hope of saving Android from its own dark side.  And as Star Wars taught us, even the greatest can fall if they travel down that path.

Source: Hagens Berman [press release]

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Hold Google to the same standard Microsoft is held
By tayb on 5/6/2014 11:35:27 AM , Rating: 3
If Microsoft cannot bundle IE and Windows Media Player with Windows then Google sure as hell shouldn't be allowed to bundle Gmail, Youtube, Google Maps, Google Search, Google Calendar, and Google Play with Android.

I don't agree with the Microsoft ruling but this kind of crap should be broadly enforced across the board or not at all.

I also believe Google needs to allow all of these applications to be deleted and replaced to avoid further litigation.

By themaster08 on 5/6/2014 12:47:39 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with your sentiment, however Android at least allows you to disable these applications and run 3rd party alternatives similar to Windows.

By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 12:56:17 PM , Rating: 2
Without those "bundles" you've just made the smartphone entirely unusable to the average consumer, and have forced Android to be an unfinished product in the mind of the end user.

And only the EU had a problem with MS doing that. And do they really count?

I also believe Google needs to allow all of these applications to be deleted and replaced to avoid further litigation.


They do.

By NellyFromMA on 5/6/2014 1:10:23 PM , Rating: 5
Forking a distro of Android will now remove your ability to even be able to use the aforementioned service. Hence the anti-competitive nature of Android as of late. That's the whole point of the article..

By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 1:31:00 PM , Rating: 5
You're not using "anti-competitive" correctly. Google isn't blocking competition by having you agree to certain terms in using their OWN apps.

Explain to me how that's an anti-competitive business practice. Please, because I really want to know. What competition are they blocking? Who are they preventing from doing business on Android?

By NellyFromMA on 5/6/2014 1:34:23 PM , Rating: 2
Who are they preventing from doing business on Android?

Anyone they choose to who wants to fork it.

By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 1:47:47 PM , Rating: 1
No, wrong answer. Hell that isn't even AN answer.

By Cheesew1z69 on 5/6/2014 4:36:33 PM , Rating: 2
Kindle is Android, so no, they aren't blocking anyone.

By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 5:54:36 PM , Rating: 2
You know it's really shocking that all the web and mobile developers who frequent this site are being so quiet on this issue.

Here we have some obnoxious minority of people basically saying that if you develop applications for a mobile OS, you have zero rights to exert any control or attach terms of use for the distribution of said applications.

Essentially meaning, the apps no longer belong to you for all intents and purposes.

When in the hell was it exactly that we all became Communists?

By rsmech on 5/6/2014 7:28:18 PM , Rating: 2
When you become a monopoly, which isn't socialism but closer to dictatorship. The is a fine line on both sides. Left or right.

By rsmech on 5/6/2014 7:30:54 PM , Rating: 2
Not implying Google IS a monopoly though. It's what the lawyers are saying. My argument's are how they perceive it to be.

By NellyFromMA on 5/7/2014 12:37:19 PM , Rating: 2
Kindle devices are blocked from the Play store/api, aren't they? They were before.

That's all I care to research on it anymore but anyone who wants to contribute to the discussion and not act-a-fool by all means... I like correct information, so correct it where applicable.

There is a huge difference between saying that forking android is banned and accessing the Play API is banned.

I am talking about the latter, but you are referring to the former.

By NellyFromMA on 5/8/2014 1:10:13 PM , Rating: 3
I've lost my patience with you. And no, not everyone has "alt accounts" because they hold so high in esteem their post rating. You perpetually embarrass yourself and as far as I'm concerned you aren't even afforded recoginition in any way shape or form other than acknowledging your low IQ / pseudo intellectual-capacity. Good luck reconciling that one at home with mommy.

By rsmech on 5/6/2014 7:24:43 PM , Rating: 4
Central to the government's case, unveiled after weeks of behind-the-scenes talks, is that Microsoft has illegally tried to "leverage" its market leading Windows operating system to "develop a chokehold" on the Internet browser software market.

How did he use "anti-competitive" wrong? Isn't the reason for the lawsuit that Google is "leveraging" it's dominance in the mobile market to say you CANNOT use any of our services if you don't use all among others.

"Good business" isn't always legal. The best "business" is a monopoly or as close as you can get to it. It's not that you are the dominant player in the market, it's how you do business as the dominant player.

By eek2121 on 5/6/2014 11:04:03 PM , Rating: 2
You guys are missing the point.

1) Android is free and open source. Anyone can create their own version of Android. You can't claim damages over something that's free.

2) The 'play' store is NOT the only android app store out there. (See: Amazon app store for one.)

3) Google does NOT have a monopoly in maps, email, or the other services it provides. (MapQuest, yahoo mail, which has a larger market-share than Gmail, both come to mind)

Short of Google settling to avoid the legal battle, I doubt they'll lose.

The only reasons Microsoft lost its case was due to Windows bundling certain apps by default (android doesn't), the components in question weren't removable (media player, internet explorer), and the operating system costed money and was the dominant operating system with over 90% of all users using it (android isn't.)

By eek2121 on 5/6/2014 11:08:35 PM , Rating: 5
Oh and to all the Apple users out there. If Google loses this case, Apple will by default as well, since it has a monopoly over it's own devices.

By NellyFromMA on 5/7/2014 12:38:57 PM , Rating: 1
It's not about the Play Store, which isn't all that impressive to begin with. The real conversation regard the Play API. Google it.

By tayb on 5/6/2014 1:58:43 PM , Rating: 1
"Without those "bundles" you've just made the smartphone entirely unusable to the average consumer, and have forced Android to be an unfinished product in the mind of the end user."

Doesn't matter. The same can be said of Windows without a browser. Solve it the same way Microsoft was forced to. Ballot screens.

I have my Nexus 7 (2013) in my hand right now. Please post the steps to uninstall Gmail without super user privileges.

By tayb on 5/6/2014 2:38:19 PM , Rating: 3
I didn't say Google is wrong. I said they should be held to the same standard as Microsoft and that they are playing with fire by forcing Google services into an "open source" project.

Waiting on uninstall instructions.

By tayb on 5/6/2014 3:16:52 PM , Rating: 1
Please send instructions to uninstall Chrome for my Nexus 7 (2013) which is running stock Android.

By rsmech on 5/6/2014 8:01:23 PM , Rating: 4
Microsoft didn't get in trouble for "services", it was over the browser.

No Microsoft got in trouble for using their dominant market position to "ensure" that same dominance was passed on to their browser as Google is using their dominant position to "ensure" their services that same dominance.

Again this wasn't just an EU thing with Microsoft.

As far as Windows 8 store not being bundled someone correct me if I'm wrong but when I installed 8 the store app was there on metro, it was bundled. Microsoft is not a monopoly on windows software.

By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 3:20:05 PM , Rating: 5
Root the phone and stop being a troll?

By rsmech on 5/6/2014 3:42:43 PM , Rating: 3
So average user locked in, thought so.

That was his point

By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 3:47:16 PM , Rating: 3
Locked in? Android doesn't force a default browser. You can use whatever you wish. You can even disable Chrome entirely and you'll never know it's there.

How do I remove Safari from my iPhone again? Instructions please? How do I make another browser default on iOS? Instructions please!!

He's not making a point, he's just being a troll.

By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 3:49:42 PM , Rating: 2
Also it's pretty cheap using the Nexus as an example. The Nexus is the "Google Phone". Everyone knows this. Complaining that Chrome comes pre-installed is like complaining about iTunes being on the iPhone.

By rsmech on 5/6/2014 8:04:17 PM , Rating: 4
I'm waiting for the Apple anti-trust. Should have happened before Google.

By inighthawki on 5/7/2014 12:20:20 AM , Rating: 3
Locked in? Android doesn't force a default browser. You can use whatever you wish. You can even disable Chrome entirely and you'll never know it's there.

Uhm... The same is true about Windows and IE. I feel you are missing his point, though.

By retrospooty on 5/7/2014 8:31:13 AM , Rating: 2
Actually it's not. IE is embedded in Windows. You can ignore it but its there. Chrome is still just an App that isnt pre-installed on the OS. Some OEM's embed it in the ROM so it cant be uninstalled unless you root the phone, but its not a part of the OS at all. In fact when you flash CM or any AOSP ROM, you dont have it. YOu have to flash Google Apps to get the default app suite.

By Reclaimer77 on 5/7/2014 8:41:30 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly. The only phone I've ever seen pre-installed with Chrome is the Nexus. I'm sure there are others, but Google does NOT bundle Chrome with Android. They use the Android browser which hell, I don't even know what it's called.

Seems like these guys are just bringing a lot of misconceptions and bias to the table.

By retrospooty on 5/7/2014 12:52:02 PM , Rating: 2
"Seems like these guys are just bringing a lot of misconceptions and bias to the table."

There does seem to be alot of that... "This one android device is this way, therefore the other billion must be too".

It's an open platform open so the OEM can do whatever they want with it. Chrome isnt on the OS. In the Nexus line the OEM (likely at the direction of Google) puts Chrome as an embedded app, so you have to root it to uninstall it. But you still dont have to use it.

Even at that,

1. It isnt part of the OS
2. It is removable - Nexus have no locks or tricks to disallow rooting.

By inighthawki on 5/7/2014 1:12:22 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry my point was not to generalize. I didn't mean to imply all Android builds were the same/all included Chrome, etc. I was mainly just calling out the similarity to Windows in the specific scenario I quoted, in that IE can be replaced with a different default browser, and that it was uninstallable, so I didn't really see where you were going with that specific point.

By inighthawki on 5/7/2014 11:09:09 AM , Rating: 2
IE is a removable component from the "Windows Features" list in Add/Remove Programs. Sure it's not a super simple self-contained "app" but its absolutely uninstallable.

By retrospooty on 5/7/2014 12:24:21 PM , Rating: 2
And... When did that change? That was the root of the MS lawsuits over the years, and MS defense was "We cant, its integrated into the OS".

As far as Win7, when you uninstall whatever version it just puts back the previous version, and doesn't uninstall it. Did that change with Win8?

By retrospooty on 5/7/2014 12:29:04 PM , Rating: 2
n/m... I just tried it on 7 and you can now. Not sure when it changed, but ... Good.

By inighthawki on 5/7/2014 1:08:25 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not 100% sure - there may be like a few backend components that remain, probably to handle third party applications that try to use the IE engine for activeX controls or something - but I believe the browser itself has (afaik) been uninstallable since at least Vista days, and I thought XP as well, which is why I never really understood the lawsuit.

By xti on 5/6/2014 4:56:39 PM , Rating: 4
wish i could, cant root every phone just because its android.

ex: att note3 on 4.4.2

By tayb on 5/6/2014 5:31:19 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not trolling. You said I could uninstall any stock application I wanted. That was a lie. Stock Android applications cannot be removed.

And that was my entire point. Google is playing with fire by forcing users to maintain Google applications and services on an "open source" operating system.

These words, try reading them.

By retrospooty on 5/7/2014 8:41:03 AM , Rating: 3
"I'm not trolling. You said I could uninstall any stock application I wanted. That was a lie"

You are confusing OEM mods and the OS... Some OEM's embed vatios Google Apps in the ROM so it cant be uninstalled unless you root the phone, but its not a part of the OS at all.

So 2 wrong things on your post. You CAN uninstall any if you root and it isnt even on the OS at all, its a ROM decision.

"Google is playing with fire by forcing users to maintain Google applications and services"

Google doesnt put any of them in the OS. It's a separate download that a ROM maker has to add themselves nad the ROM team would then decide if they wanted to install it as a system app or a standard app (the system app would need root to uninstall). If you cant uninstall a Google App it has nothing to do with the OS and everything to do with your own product knowledge.

By rsmech on 5/6/2014 7:42:19 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think legal wise open source has anything to do with it. That's partly marketing. The only standard Microsoft and Google are and were being held to is "how" they used their dominant positions.

Not saying I agree or disagree.

By rsmech on 5/6/2014 7:35:40 PM , Rating: 2
The US justice department along with at least 20 other states sued Microsoft also. Wasn't just EU.

By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 7:38:27 PM , Rating: 2
Wasn't that like 20 years ago and on a completely different issue? I just don't think it's relevant.

And if anyone in the mobile world should be getting sued for anti-competitive practices, it's Apple.

By rsmech on 5/6/2014 8:15:12 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft was for the browser. But I agree that Apple should have been looked at earlier and maybe they were. But I think Google eased some fears of monopoly. The problem is now it may have put Google in a bad spot. But just as Apple in some ways was corrected by competition Google may be also. Maybe this lawsuit is a little premature.

By ven1ger on 5/6/2014 8:29:11 PM , Rating: 2
I'm in agreement with Reclaimer. This isn't about browsers.

Google's bundling of chrome with Android is necessary, if you don't think so, how are you supposed to install a browser or any other app? Virtually everything is on the web, so you need a browser to access other apps, it has to be part of the system. Apart from that, you can download other browsers via Chrome and install them and make those the default browser and remove the chrome app from your app screen.

By Cheesew1z69 on 5/6/2014 8:49:54 PM , Rating: 2
how are you supposed to install a browser or any other app?
The Play Store? You don't need a browser for that.

By euclidean on 5/6/2014 1:00:59 PM , Rating: 2
If you install Windows 7 or 8...IE is built in.

The monopoly issue MS dealt with was not that it was installing those apps by default in the OS, but that there was no easy way to change your default browser to Opera for example.

In that sense, I can take a fresh android phone and install Opera, a different mail client, facebook messenger, etc. and make them all my default.

So Android is currently not setup like the old MS days when they were tagged...

By NellyFromMA on 5/6/2014 1:26:26 PM , Rating: 5
You're missing the point a bit.

Both Windows and Android DO allow you to supplement certain "native" app offerings with 3rd party apps. That is true.

However, when IE is uninstalled from Windows, MS doesn't say you can no longer use any of it services. Nor does Google.

What Google DOES DO though is say that if anyone, OEM or amateur, forks Android, Google has the right to cut you off from the Play store and API and they are moving virtually all Android features to the Play API, effectively neutering Android to barely more than a thin client.

It's really hard to form an analogy to MS practices or past experience here (although I'm sure everyone is dying to)because MS offers their software in traditional licensing model and no one else spins/forks their own Windows distros as MS is the sole supplier.

This is just part of the new territory Google chose to march into with Android and their ad-based revenue model.

It should be really interesting to see how this unfolds. I've been watching this issue for this passed 6 or so months and its interesting to see it has turned into a lawsuit. I always found it very strange that Google would harm its own partners in this way, but I presume that is because the flaw in their pricing model altogether is now a point of attack for competitors (ex: Nokia's Android Spin off).

Google's practices are abusive to it's partners of which Google owes them quite a bit for the exposure to ads they brought to Google..

Sure, Google achieved rather well a flooding of the mobile market with Android phones on the backs of OEMs, which ironically is why they have no choice but to face these allegations as there is a lot of substance to them.

Google owes OEMS for its success, but instead chooses to rip away what some would argue to be the entire functional essence of Android altogether for those who choose to do exactly what open-source was meant for: source-reuse and community contribution.

More and more, Google shows that it doesn't really mean what it says and doesn't stand for much of anything other than doing whatever it takes to sustain and grow ad revenue, even at harm to their consumers and partners.

It's really very odd to me. I can't trust a company like that.

By NellyFromMA on 5/6/2014 1:48:23 PM , Rating: 5
God, its very difficult to try and explain anything to you because you vehemently oppose any point any one else makes and just demean and otherwise twist the contents of the message you reply to.

Are you Google lawyer? Google's superman? Perhaps strictly Google's cheerleader? Their knight in shining armor maybe Why is it always so personal with you, you'd think your entire 401K is backed by Google and their success literally makes or breaks your well being.

I'm not talking about MY RIGHTS TO ANYTHING. Consumer's aren't directly at play here. It's between Google and OEMs. STFU and get familiar with the topic at hand before you regurgitate the same BS everyone is sick and tired of.

I don't even have the patience to address any of your other misguided thoughts except to say that you have my opinion all wrong and its on purpose. Troll on elsewhere for fck sake.

By NellyFromMA on 5/6/2014 1:58:57 PM , Rating: 5
I'm sure the entire forum will back you up and mention just how cool calm and collected you usually are. Yeah, you've definitely gotten on my nerves today as I don't need ANYONE telling ME what I'M saying.

You prefer Android. OK. Have I demeaned your for it? Told you you are wrong? Attempted to strip you of your opinion?

No, I haven't. I'm also here to share my thoughts and opinions and PERHAPS engage in a thoughtful discussion or two with like-minds and unlike-minds, so long as they maintain respect during the conversation and that is where you lack sorely. Seriously, you should reflect on that. I'm not a one off, all your interactions on this forum are like this, who knows about real life.

I'm not here to tell you why you're wrong about Google and to convert you to something else. I don't care what you use. I read what you write (begrudgingly) as I do with others.

Yeah, I share my thoughts on Google's mishaps and successes (of which I am the first to admit I perceive them to make more mishaps lately) but I also do the same for MS and Apple.

I'm not paid by any of them. I have products from all three. I assess the situation, both from a consumer and business standpoint, and share my thoughts. I don't sht on anyone while I do it though.

By Dug on 5/6/2014 2:40:03 PM , Rating: 2
This isn't about YOU as a consumer. Can't you see beyond your own ego?

By FITCamaro on 5/6/2014 2:49:27 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Google shouldn't be required to give you everything. If all they want to offer you is basically an OS, instead of the complete platform they did before, that's their right. But hey lets not let common sense or property rights enter the discussion now. Everyone has a right to everyone else's stuff these days.

By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 2:56:20 PM , Rating: 2
Bingo, we have a winner.

Seriously how can these people convince themselves that another company has the right to use Google's Apps in whatever manner they see fit?

Can we do that with Microsoft's software? Or Apple's?

By TSS on 5/6/2014 8:03:27 PM , Rating: 1
Funny you should say that, because the US actually has (atleast with microsoft):

Everybody seems to forget microsoft was actually sued for something incredibly similar in the 90's. Even though it ended in a settlement (like anything even remotely important in the US legal system), it was mostly a win for the consumer as 3rd party developers got acces to alot of API's. Access google is now cutting off.

So funnily enough your complaint that this isn't enforced across the board would be true if google *didn't* get sued. As for apple, well, talk to your local lobbyist for that one.

the TL;DR version: It's impossible to compete with free, thus free is anti-competative. It's maybe easyer to understand if we'd refer to this practice as "digital dumping". If the chinese aren't allowed to offer their solar panels below cost of production, why should google be allowed to offer their software below the cost of production?

By rsmech on 5/6/2014 8:25:58 PM , Rating: 2
If your not the dominant player in the market (possible monopoly) than you can do that. The problem is IF you use your dominant position to try and stifle competition. If you don't use the product or service I demand you cannot use any of my products or services. Therefore you cannot compete in a market where 5 out of 6 I control. There's your problem. You're analogizing equals, this isn't equal.

By NellyFromMA on 5/7/2014 1:03:31 PM , Rating: 3
Ok, first, you're gonna have to challenge yourself to sort out the perspectives here. We aren't talking about the typical consumers vs vendor relationship as it pertains to me as a user of Android.

Rather, we are talking about Google's relationship with OEMS. This has nothing to do with what any end-user feels, entitlement or otherwise.

Once you can get to that point, realize the following:

Google's carrot to OEMS way back to even adopt Android in the first place was a promise of source code access for which OEMs could do as they please (as many did, and terribly so) in order to differentiate themselves, which is a HUGE point for a business.

Imagine if Ford and Chrysler sold you the exact same Civic designed and sold by Honda. What is the incentive for Ford and Chrysler to sell this car? Cost-savings perhaps a little. But cost-savings are a luxury afforded to a business contingent on sales. Who wants to buy a product from Ford that they can from Honda, the original designer with engineering insight that Ford and Chrysler can reverse-engineer, but never be at the same cutting-edge as Honda with regard to the Civic platform?

What leads the consumer one way or the other when assessing competing products? Differentiation. And that is what Google offered to OEMS under the promise they would get plans for a complete Civic.

What unfolded there after was the aftermath of Google's inexperience in the space IMO (and for those who just got offended, its ok to make mistakes, but some cost more than others and that's life. Better people learn from there mistakes, lesser people ignore them outright.)

Now, our car analogy will break up a bit. Google has essentially moved critical cutting-edge pieces of the engine and transmission "to-the-cloud" AKA Play API and only allows OEMs who play by there new set of rules to access that.

Well, great. You told me I could get plans to a VTEC-enabled 6-spd but two generations in you've conned me into a non-VTEC 4-spd automatic instead.

Because OEMs profit almost exclusively from hardware sales, where as Google profits from ads and data collected from their apps, this is why you see bloat-ware on many Android phones.

Google has exploited the OEMS and now has tried to exert its dominant presence in the marketplace in order to force partners to play by their rules or be SOL and recreate the missing pieces themselves which can destroy a project implementation plan.

To whomever the attorney is for the plaintiffs, I just did your work for you. Feel free to copy this and re-word for your purposes, free of charge. And you can keep the whole thing in perpetuity. In this way, I just adhered to open-source mantra more than Google ever has.

Now that I've annihilated this topic, I'm out! ;)

By Reclaimer77 on 5/7/2014 2:06:59 PM , Rating: 1
Rather, we are talking about Google's relationship with OEMS. This has nothing to do with what any end-user feels, entitlement or otherwise.

Oh my god, you too.

READ THE ARTICLE! This has NOTHING to do with the OEM's. It's just two idiots claiming their phones cost MORE because it comes with Google's FREE apps installed to it.

Does that really make sense to you?

So this has EVERYTHING to do with the "end user".

The rest of your post is complete garbage. Do you even comprehend that Android, as well as Google's Apps, are entirely free? That completely DESTROYS your absurd car analogies!

Google's carrot to OEMS way back to even adopt Android in the first place was a promise of source code access for which OEMs could do as they please

And today, that's still the case. You CAN do whatever you want with Android.

Google's terms and conditions for their proprietary apps are an entirely different matter. Why can't you realize that? How they choose to run Android in no way binds them to do the same with Google Apps.

In fact OEM's are given so much leeway, they're allowed to install software to their ROM's that DIRECTLY compete with Google's. Pick up a Samsung Galaxy if you need this illustrated for you.

Nelly, it's pretty obvious you just have a strong dislike for Google and are trying to come up with very clever and creative explanation for how it's somehow "wrong" what Google is doing.

It's sad that sheer stubborn personal bias has so completely blinded you to how bankrupt your position on this is. You can't cite me any laws being broken. Any anti-competitive evidence or evidence of ANY harm at all. You just give me shi*ty analogies and Straw Men.

By drycrust3 on 5/6/2014 4:41:12 PM , Rating: 1
What Google DOES DO though is say that if anyone, OEM or amateur, forks Android, Google has the right to cut you off from the Play store and API and they are moving virtually all Android features to the Play API, effectively neutering Android to barely more than a thin client.

All around the world there are people running bootleg versions of Windows, and those computers which do are rejected for software updates by Microsoft.
When someone makes a fork of an OS, their aim is to change it to suit their own ends. If someone forks Android, then that means it is different from Android, so Google and the OEM cannot guarantee that the hardware it is on will perform the same as the Android that it was sold with.
If you got a virus into your Windows XP computer, then to all intents it is a fork of Windows XP, so Microsoft cannot guarantee it will work the same as what they meant it to work. The only way to guarantee your computer will work the same is to either remove the virus and fix the damage done or to reinstall Windows XP.
One of the very important parts of a smartphone is the application library. Google Play Store has over 1 million apps, each one is designed to work with stock standard Android. There is just no way a developer can guess what changes someone making a fork will make, so they don't. For Google to sit down and check each one to see if it will work correctly with someone's fork is going to be very expensive, and they don't even have an obligation to do that, the onus is on the person making the fork to do that.
As I see it, if Google decide for Health and Safety reasons to withdraw access rights to Play Store for users of a fork, then they are quite within their rights to do so. This is no different from users of bootleg Windows not having access rights to security updates, or an ISP or company network manager telling the user of a virus infected computer to fix their computer.

By ResStellarum on 5/6/2014 9:50:36 PM , Rating: 1
If Microsoft cannot bundle IE and Windows Media Player with Windows then Google sure as hell shouldn't be allowed to bundle Gmail, Youtube, Google Maps, Google Search, Google Calendar, and Google Play with Android.

1. Microsoft does still bundle IE with Windows, even in the EU. In fact, its components have been purposefully integrated with the underlying OS so as to make the two inextricable. That little ballot box dialog you see when you boot up in the EU, is running inside IE. Ironic I know, but completely true.

2. Google doesn't bundle its apps with Android, it's the OEM's who do that because they want the Play store, Youtube etc. Anyone can take the code from AOSP without touching Google's apps, as Amazon, Nokia/Microsoft, and chinese OEM's have proven.

I don't agree with the Microsoft ruling but this kind of crap should be broadly enforced across the board or not at all.

The problem is, Microsoft really did exploit its OS markeshare to destroy browser competition, and in the process, retarded http standards for a decade. The truth is the EU anticompetitive action was too little too late. The damage had already been done.

If someone dismisses the browser ballot box, they're still stuck with IE by default again. So in reality, nothing's changed.

Fortunately, Chrome and Firefox have reignited browser competition, and with the decline of Microsoft and Windows, finally there's a standardised http protocol that everyone follows.

I also believe Google needs to allow all of these applications to be deleted and replaced to avoid further litigation.

So you're okay with Microsoft being forced to remove Bing and IE in Windows 8 then? After all Microsoft does ship them with every Windows PC. And having 90% marketshare in the desktop OS category makes it a clear monopoly, far exceeding Android's mobile dominance. Because that's what you're effectively saying. And I'm not talking about a token ballot box, I mean really ripping out IE this time.

By toolazy666 on 5/7/2014 10:53:17 PM , Rating: 2
Also Apple, Nokia and any other Mobile/PC OS that is or will ever be...

not practical imo, a good choice would be to "enable on demand", ie : those apps should be disabled by default, and when I launch the "maps" shortcut on the phone, I will be asked if I want to use the google solution or look for an alternative.

I do partially agree
By retrospooty on 5/6/2014 10:16:33 AM , Rating: 2
Google/Android is almost becoming too big in the mobile sector. Invariably when companies dominate like that it winds up sucking for consumers.

Still today the alternatives just aren't there. WP is getting better and better, but the apps are way off and many people dont like the UI. IOS is just so far behind its not even close to an option for me. Far too many missing features.

RE: I do partially agree
By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 10:28:02 AM , Rating: 2
In the case of Android I don't agree. It's the only platform that offers the consumers any semblance of choice to exercise their buying power freely. You don't get that with Windows Phone, and you sure as hell don't with iOS.

I just don't see how Android's dominant position could possibly be portrayed as harming the consumer. They just want their payout here, nothing will change, they have no solid case.

There's even Android forks completely free of Google (Amazon). And phones like the OnePlus One.

Monopolies cause a lack of options and competition in the marketplace, leading to rising costs. That obviously isn't happening here. There's tons of competition, and you can buy Android phones with the fastest components and best screens available, for HUNDREDS less than the competition.

RE: I do partially agree
By retrospooty on 5/6/2014 10:33:33 AM , Rating: 2
"It's the only platform that offers the consumers any semblance of choice to exercise their buying power freely. You don't get that with Windows Phone, and you sure as hell don't with iOS."

I agree... Today. What I worry about is Android totally dominating and becoming that way. So far so good.

What I would like is a viable open alternative. WP just isnt catching on and IOS is years behind and showing zero signs of innovating since the initial release in 2007. Right now, Android is the only option.

RE: I do partially agree
By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 10:39:21 AM , Rating: 2
Android can dominate, that's fine.

I think what people worry about is GOOGLE dominating. But it's too late for them to do that. Android is open source, so anyone is free to fork it and make it their own. Google cannot compel anyone to use their apps.

Android is much like Windows. It was the first OS that empowered competition between OEM's in it's market, instead of proprietary solutions, so it's only natural that it achieves the most market share.

What I would like is a viable open alternative.

Keep your eyes on Firefox OS. Who knows?

RE: I do partially agree
By retrospooty on 5/6/2014 11:18:49 AM , Rating: 2
I guess I really shouldn't worry about it, it's more of a cause and effect. If Google tightens its grip, then a viable alternative will arise fueled by the people leaving the newly tightened grip. Much like the majority of people flocked to Android to avoid Apple's tight grip.

RE: I do partially agree
By NellyFromMA on 5/6/2014 1:39:29 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm, I think I see where your confusion may be...

You are suggesting that Google cannot compel anyone to use their apps, but it removes their functionality from the Android source code where it previously has been and shifts it to server-backends to shielf it from forking. Of course, those functionality just make web-service calls instead, but the controversy in discussion is that any OEM that forks Android can be banned from using those web-services simply for forking Android in essence leaving the source-code to a subset of the functionality that had previous been available at the onset.

That is a big bait and switch to OEMS who wanted to do so, and when you are a market leader, can pretty easily be construed as anti-competitive. That's the whole point of this article but I think maybe you just overlooked it.

RE: I do partially agree
By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 3:06:25 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not confused. I have flat-out continuously asked you to provide concrete examples of competition being harmed, which silly me I assume should be the basis of making "anti-competitive" claims, and so far your answers have been found wanting.

That is a big bait and switch to OEMS who wanted to do so, and when you are a market leader, can pretty easily be construed as anti-competitive.

Those OEM's are perfectly able to compete. They can create their own apps to compete with Google's, as did Amazon. They can just use Android and accept the terms. They can make their own fork and use whatever services they see fit on it... I mean, again, where is competition being stiffed?

This is why I keep saying this: It seems as if you're almost saying OEM's have a RIGHT to use Android as well as Google App's in whatever way they see fit.

RE: I do partially agree
By rsmech on 5/6/2014 3:54:32 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously someone has the answers or there would be no suit. If there good enough the court will decide. But just because there is a suit doesn't make Google guilty.

Right now it's opinion. You can't win this argument because you have no authority to decide. Please feel free to post your "opinion" you're just rubbing people the wrong way being so high minded.

RE: I do partially agree
By ResStellarum on 5/6/2014 10:02:30 PM , Rating: 2
You are suggesting that Google cannot compel anyone to use their apps, but it removes their functionality from the Android source code where it previously has been and shifts it to server-backends to shielf it from forking.

Actually that's a common misconception. Google isn't doing that to prevent forking, it's doing that so it can get updates to all users via the Play store. OEM's have proven to be unreliable when it comes to dishing out firmware updates, and that's where a lot of the code is located. So naturally, by moving the functionality to the Play store, Google can do all the updates itself without being beholden to the whims of Android device manufacturers.

This is why with the latest iterations of Android, firmware updates are becoming less and less important. An example would be the new malware detection, which is going to be available to most versions of Android, irrespective of OEM firmware updates.

RE: I do partially agree
By NellyFromMA on 5/6/2014 1:33:29 PM , Rating: 2
There's even Android forks completely free of Google (Amazon). And phones like the OnePlus One.

Wasn't Amazon the first fork to begin being treated in this abusive manner?

I thought I read way back that this was the first high-profile fork and Google became very mad about it and cut them off from the Play Store (wasn't called play at the time I don't think).

The practice has just gotten worse since. Again, going off of memory so if there's something incorrect, by all means correct it.

RE: I do partially agree
By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/14, Rating: 0
RE: I do partially agree
By NellyFromMA on 5/6/2014 1:50:50 PM , Rating: 2
Guy, is my name listed on the lawsuit against Google? No. So STFU already. You want to debate something I'm not even talking about. I don't care about your opinion because its not aligned with the topic at hand and seeing as how that is just "your-style" to these types of things, I can't even give you the time of day anymore let alone the luxury to discuss a topic.

RE: I do partially agree
By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/14, Rating: 0
RE: I do partially agree
By xti on 5/6/2014 4:59:16 PM , Rating: 3
yeah, you are angry all the time, there is a difference!!!

RE: I do partially agree
By rsmech on 5/6/2014 3:17:15 PM , Rating: 3
but that hardly makes them illegal or sue-worthy. Or abusive. Or anti-competitive

Sue-worthy: this article just told you they were going to be. So your misinformed and misleading.

Illegal or anti-competitive: I think the court will be deciding this.

Abusive: maybe to strong a word and you purposely choose it. But maybe a little strong arming is better. Souds like some OEMs may know more than you.

So what was your point.

RE: I do partially agree
By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 3:25:17 PM , Rating: 2
The OEM's aren't suing Google. Anyone can bring forth a class action suit regardless of laws being broken or not.

The courts probably wont decide, because like all class Action suits, it's cheaper for Google to just settle. Which is all this law firm wants anyway, their check.

Abusive: maybe to strong a word and you purposely choose it.

No, it was Nelly who chose to use "abusive". Several times in fact.

Nobody is being strong-armed. The OEM's are free to not use Android. They're free to use Android and agree to Google's terms. They're also free to fork Android completely and forgo the use of Google Apps in lieu of their own. That's WAY too many options open to them for anyone to claim strong arm tactics.

RE: I do partially agree
By rsmech on 5/6/2014 8:40:08 PM , Rating: 2
Anticompetitive claims are not determined by how good a product or service is, that's what makes them touchy. Google has great services a majority of people use and like. The question is not how good or bad they are (some of them are considered the best) but how are they or are they leveraging their 5 out of 6 devices sold dominance to leverage their services over, before, or without exception against the competition. What Microsoft was guilty of and what Google is accused of may be considered wrong for a dominant player but acceptable for a lesser company. It's dominance of the market that drive this. If they weren't dominant it wouldn't be an issue.

RE: I do partially agree
By Reclaimer77 on 5/7/2014 8:46:12 AM , Rating: 2
Oh my god...


This is not an anti-trust suit brought forth by the US Department of Justice against Google.

RE: I do partially agree
By atechfan on 5/7/2014 10:27:26 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly, this is from idiots who think their Samsungs would be cheaper somehow without Google apps.

RE: I do partially agree
By Reclaimer77 on 5/7/2014 1:49:56 PM , Rating: 2
I think a reputable law firm would have told these people they don't have a case.

Law firms such as this one, however, turn hopeless cases into class action law suits.

But then I come to Daily Tech, a site where supposed technically knowledgeable people visit, and see the people here are basically no smarter than these two saps in the lawsuit.

I just really don't know what's going on here.

RE: I do partially agree
By Flunk on 5/6/2014 2:14:59 PM , Rating: 2
Windows Phone will be consumer-hostile as long as they restrict users to only install software from their app store. It's the same problem I have with the iPhone. Closed platforms, by their nature, are consumer-hostile.

By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 10:17:05 AM , Rating: 1
Wow, LONG article. I mean it's hard to keep track of the relevant info here. Can we have bullet points or something please?

Anyway this looks to be another "class action" crock forced onto the taxpayers by an ambulance chaser firm with a history of this kind of corporate extortion.

So why are you trying so hard to legitimize their claims? I'm all for a discussion on closed vs open source, but how is this a matter for the courts?

And if you can sue a company for having a product not "open" enough to your liking, then how in the hell can you explain Apple's business practices being legal?

Much ado about nothing it seems. As usual they'll get their way because Google will settle, and these vultures will get their jackpot as they always do.

RE: Legitimate?
By atechfan on 5/6/2014 10:23:23 AM , Rating: 1
While I think the lawsuit is bogus too, I don't think it is about Android not being open. It is more about it claiming to be open when it isn't really. You can't really compare it to Apple, because Apple have never claimed to be open. Maybe some of their fans have made that claim since OS X has BSD underpinnings, but Apple themselves have never made any sort of claim to be open source.

RE: Legitimate?
By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 10:31:46 AM , Rating: 5
Android is open source, so they can't even make the case of false "claims". that even a thing?

Googles proprietary apps are NOT open source, nor are they required to be. Angry Birds isn't open source either....

I just don't see the problem here. They're looking for a big settlement, that's why they file these lawsuits.

RE: Legitimate?
By atechfan on 5/6/2014 4:11:59 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not saying Google did anything wrong here. I said the lawsuit is bogus. I'm just pointing out that, from the viewpoint of the FOSS movement, Android is hardly open. Which is fine, it is Google's playground, so Google is allowed to make the rules. No one should be allowed to sue over that. FOSS zealots are a peculiar crowd though.

RE: Legitimate?
By retrospooty on 5/6/2014 10:36:36 AM , Rating: 2
"I don't think it is about Android not being open. It is more about it claiming to be open when it isn't really."

It is open. You and I (or anyone) could potentially pool our cash or maybe line up some investors, hire some engineers, design a phone, customize the OS in hundreds of different ways and release a product. We cannot do that with Apple at all. We could release a WP phone, but not really able to customize and do our own thing with it.

RE: Legitimate?
By bug77 on 5/6/2014 10:56:12 AM , Rating: 2
How would anyone think it's not open when it's been forked so many times already? It's not as open as many would like, true, but that's an entirely different issue.

RE: Legitimate?
By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 1:02:35 PM , Rating: 1
It's hard to see things clearly when they're drunk on Hateraid.

RE: Legitimate?
By NellyFromMA on 5/6/2014 1:43:27 PM , Rating: 2
Android OS has been and continues to be open-source. But it's contents functionality-wise have been being shifted out of the Android code-base and into private code-bases hosted and exposed as web-services.

OEMs are miffed because at the beginning this was not the case, they took the Android bet and "won", and as such Google REALLY won. Now, OEMs plans have been harmed because the are not getting all of the functionality they used to in the Android Source and that is the center of the controversy.

I wonder if it's such a subtle thing to say and read out loud that only developers get the controversy to begin with.

RE: Legitimate?
By Reclaimer77 on 5/6/2014 2:00:19 PM , Rating: 2
OEMs are miffed because at the beginning this was not the case, they took the Android bet and "won"

They also did things that lead to a poor end-user experience and gave Android a VERY bad reputation for a few years.

Google saw, obviously, that some modicum of control needed to be exerted over their platform to ensure a baseline experience and some consistency for the consumer.

In fact I very clearly remember that being a chief criticism of Android in the early days. That Google wasn't "doing enough" to control Android in the face of OEM "fragmentation".

Damned if you do, damned if you don't I guess.

RE: Legitimate?
By bug77 on 5/6/2014 4:27:00 PM , Rating: 2
Now, OEMs plans have been harmed because the are not getting all of the functionality they used to in the Android Source and that is the center of the controversy.

You seem to be under the impression that once something goes open-source, it will stay there forever. I t won't. It's mostly unmaintained things that get pruned, which is not the case here, but functionality does go away.

A few notes
By bug77 on 5/6/2014 10:16:09 AM , Rating: 2
The original Galaxy Tab ran Honeycomb, not Gingerbread. It was eventually updated to ICS, but before that, I never found Honeycomb unpolished. Yes, Google admitted they had to hack some things to make it work on a tablet, maybe that's the lack of polish the article refers to. But from a user's point of view, if worked just fine.

The analogy with a stripped out vehicle is correct, but incomplete. The vehicle never had a transmission to begin with: one could never get drivers in any other form, but binary blobs.

I think most confusion surrounding Android is not about whether it is open or not, but is more about lack of understanding what Android actually is (an incomplete OS that can run proprietary stuff).

RE: A few notes
By JasonMick on 5/6/2014 1:32:24 PM , Rating: 2
The original Galaxy Tab ran Honeycomb, not Gingerbread.
Nope, the original Galaxy Tab released in 2010 (aka the "Galaxy Tab 7.0") launched with Android v2.2.1 Froyo, but was later upgraded to Gingerbread in most regions. It never ran Honeycomb afaik.

I think you're thinking of it successor the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, which was launched one year later with Android v3.2 Honeycomb, and later upgraded, first to v4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich then to v4.1 Jellybean (in most regions).
It was eventually updated to ICS, but before that, I never found Honeycomb unpolished. Yes, Google admitted they had to hack some things to make it work on a tablet, maybe that's the lack of polish the article refers to. But from a user's point of view, if worked just fine.
It worked fine, but a lot of the hackishness was on the SDK side and hence the app support was relatively poor. In my experience it was kind of like the Palm TouchPad -- decent interface, some good ideas, mediocre hardware, somewhat high price points (er... TouchPad pre-fire sale, at least), a smattering of decent optimized apps, but overall lacking on the app front.

I found third party apps to be rather hit or miss. My friend owned a Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus and some apps he sideloaded from his smartphone stockpile would crash or simply refuse to open. When it came to third party apps optimized for Honeycomb, remember at the time iPad optimized apps were somewhat uncommon, Honeycomb optimized apps were even rarer. But Apple's advantage was you could at least be reasonably sure most iPhone-aimed app store downloads would work; in Honeycomb you had no such guarantees.

Aside from the lack of third party app support, Honeycomb's core apps didn't really present a GUI optimized to a tablet's extra screen real estate. On a device like the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus (since you mentioned it -- maybe?) it felt okay, because the size was just a small step up from today's phablets. But for 10 inch screens like a Xoom, it was a rather poor experience in my opinion. ICS was a big leap forward, because it wasn't just a smartphone blown up, it legitimately differentiated making better use of the screen real estate in core apps.

A final point on Honeycomb's shortcomings, Apple at the time had a huge lead in dedicated content for the iPad. Early onboard it secured some common sense content offerings thanks to deals with a variety of magazine and book publishers. The magazines were particularly impressive, as they really showed one unique advantage of the iPad over a traditional eReader. By contrast content optimized for Honeycomb devices was relatively few and far between. Again this situation drastically improved over the ICS/JellyBean development arc, as more publishers began taking Android seriously.
I think most confusion surrounding Android is not about whether it is open or not, but is more about lack of understanding what Android actually is (an incomplete OS that can run proprietary stuff).
I think there's a couple points of criticism.

First Google uses bundling of the SDKs and core apps as a tool to force OEMs to at least offer its wares alongside theres. Likewise OEMs must include Google's built in analytics apps that operate silently behind the scenes mining your data in order to better advertise to you.

I would argue there's nothing wrong with this approach. OEMs don't have to use Android.

On the other hand, I feel like it's a double standard for a company like Microsoft to be punished for bundling, but Google can do it freely. Whatever your policy it should be applied to everyone equally, governments shouldn't play favorites.

A second point of criticism is that Android has changed over time. A lot of people don't realize that.

In the Froyo era, you could get a relatively full fledged operating system, set of core apps, and most crucially SDK, all of which were open source.

Over time Google migrated its apps and SDKs to its Play Services bundle, effectively morphing Android towards being more closed.

Today if you take out all the non-open source stuff, you get an unusable OS that basically can only dial phone numbers, and has no development or utility application framework.

Again, I think Google is just being a savvy competitor by closing the source (other than essentially a bare bones frame that you can get from a million other places, e.g. Tizen, Firefox OS, etc.). However, I feel it was slightly disingenuous in presenting itself as an open source proejct and then effectively becoming something else.

Is Android misunderstood? Certainly.

But you could make a compelling argument that the blame for that misunderstanding is mostly on Google's own shoulders, and is based on misunderstandings/misinformation that is beneficial to Google's brand image.

/disclaimer: I am an Android owner. (HTC One M8 2014 on T-Mobile)

RE: A few notes
By bug77 on 5/6/2014 4:25:01 PM , Rating: 2
I was actually thinking of Galaxy Tab 10.1 (the only tablet I've ever owned).

As for the shift to being more closed: you've correctly pointed out that it wasn't much of on open project to begin with. Pretty much the only thing interested parties could do, was to glance over released code and point out bugs. I've criticized that before. But for me, having independent parties look at the code is good enough. At least it guarantees some level of security.
And Google can't be tried for bundling, because it mandates no such thing. The Kindle Fire and Nokia X will attest to that.

In the end, I kind of stopped caring. I would have loved Android to be as open a any Linux distro, but it's hard to fault Google for not walking that line since they invested billions in the project. If it weren't for Android the only way to get a smartphone today would be to (over)pay for an iPhone.

Hold Google to the same standard Microsoft is held
By tayb on 5/6/2014 11:35:27 AM , Rating: 1
If Microsoft cannot bundle IE and Windows Media Player with Windows then Google sure as hell shouldn't be allowed to bundle Gmail, Youtube, Google Maps, Google Search, Google Calendar, and Google Play with Android.

I don't agree with the Microsoft ruling but this kind of crap should be broadly enforced across the board or not at all.

I also believe Google needs to allow all of these applications to be deleted and replaced to avoid further litigation.

By Flunk on 5/6/2014 2:16:37 PM , Rating: 2
The only problem with that statement is that for the majority of the world, it isn't true. Microsoft still bundles IE with the majority of shipped copies of Windows.

By Monkey's Uncle on 5/7/2014 7:21:09 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder what Apple bundles with their iPhones.

The funniest part is I don't see anybody pointing at Apple. They are 5 times more monopolistic than Google ever was. But let's make something clear here...

Microsoft DOES bundle Ie and WMP with Windows. It always has.
That doesn't mean you can't change to some other app to use other like Firefox and divx media players. Likewise Google bundles its tailored apps. You aren't forced to use them. Is Google trying to reduce the forks of its open source OS? I imagine so for the versions with its name on it. Does that mean people can't fork off their own versions? Sure they can. Android is open source via AOSP. That doesn't mean google has to make their apps work with forks any more than Microsoft has to make IE or WMP work in Linux.

I dare anybody here to try forking Apple's iOS7 (spoiler: get your lawyers on line before you try)...

I think all we are seeing here is sour grapes originating from the 2nd and/or 3rd place Smartphone OS providers. This suit will get tossed out so fast it will make everyone wonder if there really was even a suit.

Unified experience, update, etc.
By ctp on 5/6/2014 7:15:57 PM , Rating: 4
It was not that long ago that people complained that the Google experience was being fragmented too much and that Android was going to fall apart because of that fact. There were also complaints about it being so hard for phone manufacturers to to updates that you would soon be unable to buy a phone that would get more than one update at some point in the future.

So now Google unifies things more, makes the OS easier to upgrade, and people find something else to complain about. Sure there are plenty of reasons to complain, but you can't say "make it red," then complain that "it's too red, so now make it green." Who looks like the idiot when the customer asks for sugar in his coffee, then after the waitress brings his coffee *with* sugar, as requested, he says "No, now I want cream in my coffee instead?"

Remember Microsofts antitrust case?
By Stan11003 on 5/6/2014 10:57:32 AM , Rating: 1
When Microsoft was being accused of being a monopoly they didn't half the things google and apple have done to lock down their market. If this suit is unfair for Google then it was unfair for MS too.

By GotThumbs on 5/8/2014 9:38:00 AM , Rating: 2
And it was IMO.

MS NEVER prevented any user from installing Netscape or any other browser on Windows.

Problem is Trolling lawyers. They don't get paid if they don't have a current case. This is simply scum lawyers trolling for income IMO.

Anyone read the suit?
By ven1ger on 5/6/2014 5:48:36 PM , Rating: 1
According to the suit, Google’s role in placing this suite of apps, including Google Play, and YouTube, among others, has hampered the market and kept the price of devices made by competing device manufacturers like Samsung and HTC artificially high.


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. According to the complaint, in both situations, the owner’s phones should have cost less and had better search capabilities as the result of competition that would have ensued, had Google’s MADA restraints not existed.

Gee, the lawsuit is because of two named plaintiffs who are idiots in thinking that Google is responsible for the pricing of their units.

By Duncan_Macdonald on 5/6/2014 6:23:49 PM , Rating: 2
How does including a set of zero cost software significently increase the price of a unit ?

Any manufacturer can take the full android package and put it on their phones - plenty of cheap chinese smartphones with the full package on phones under £50.

Any bets on whether there is any connection between M$ or Apple and the plaintiffs and lawyers ?

By flatrock on 5/6/2014 11:04:37 AM , Rating: 2
The biggest difference is probably that Android is available separately from Google Mobile Services. One of the main results of the lawsuit was to force Microsoft to make it available separately.

There is also the question of what is the Monopoly product and what product is being tied to it?

Is Android the monopoly product? If so the fact that it is open and freely available makes it difficult to argue that Google is tying anything to it.

Is the monopoly Google Mobile Services (Play store and apps)? It is possibly leaning towards becoming a Monopoly, at least in some regions. I think Apple is still strong enough to keep Google from wielding monopoly power at this point, but Apple's market share is slowly shrinking. However, the problem with this is what product is being tied to the monopoly product. Android? No it is available separately. Google's advertising services? No those are available on other mobile operating systems.

Search may be a monopoly for Google, but Google appears to be more than happy to allow their search product to be used with any browser/mobile OS.

Are they going to argue that one of the Apps in Google Mobile Services is the monopoly product. Google Play Store or Maps? Well maybe, but it's going to be a hard thing to show how consumers are harmed, or that it creates a large barrier to competition because while they require that if GMS is loaded, it all must be loaded, they don't prevent OEMs from loading competing products as well.

Let's face it, it also makes sense that Google's apps be bundled together because they are designed to work together to give the user a better and more seamless experience. Forcing them to unbundle Apps might decrease Google's market share, but it would be doing so because the customer is getting a product that they are less happy with not because it is allowing better products to get to market.

Can we kill the lawyers now?
By GotThumbs on 5/6/2014 2:47:20 PM , Rating: 2
These "lawyers" are simply trolling for revenue IMO.

Apple runs the most closed ecosystem and yet they remain untouched by the legal vultures.

By zixin on 5/7/2014 12:13:22 AM , Rating: 2
As of last check, Android has a market share of 57.6% while IOS has a market share of 35.9%. How exactly does that translate to a monopoly?

The dilemma of Google
By foxalopex on 5/6/2014 11:45:16 AM , Rating: 1
The way I see it is Google is like a restaurant that has offered a free meal to try to get you into their restaurant. People enjoying the free meal have swarmed the restaurant bringing them great publicity and fame and business as they are now able to sell lot of their normal paying meals too.

Competing restaurants are upset as they've lost a lot of business but still refuse to give out free meals so instead they decide to take Google's free food and sell it as their own.

Google, upset that competitors are stealing their free offerings and trying to profit from it, starts to screen their customers which obviously upsets the public.

This is how I view Google in how it operates at the moment. I still think it's a great company. It will be interesting to see what happens if it turns out to be last restaurant on the street.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki