Google's too powerful, and Android is about to pay a big price for it
A company the size of Alphabet is always going to face the scrutiny of lawmakers in the U.S. and abroad. We've seen it for years — a country or group of countries haul Google into a court and ends up reaching some sort of "agreement" that mostly satisfies the original complaint and always puts money into state coffers and Google walks away whistling. With over 50 U.S. state and territories investigating Alphabet for anticompetitive behavior and compliance with antitrust laws, this time could be a little different. This is a U.S. probe that is determined to find some fault, whether real or imagined.
Yes, some of it is partisan, but mostly it's in response to complaints that Google is such a presence on the internet that other companies can't compete and new companies have no chance of success. That's different from wanting Google to reinforce that you don't have to use Gmail or Chrome on an Android phone (or Internet Explorer on Windows if you remember that one) and there are hundreds of other apps that can be used as the defaults. Android plays a big part in both, though.
The numbers vary a little from quarter to quarter, but in the U.S. about 52 of every 100 phones sold new use Android and 48 use iOS. Those numbers sound like a nice even split until you consider the fact that Google has a huge finger on the online scales by the way of services and advertisement. Everything Google does, including Android, is done to further these because that is how Google earns its billions each year. And because so much is done to make those services and advertisements so important to users almost every device, no matter who manufactures it or what software powers it, is a point of revenue for the company.
That's part of the anticompetitive behavior concerns state attorneys have, but the complaint also states that Google needs to provide information about U.S. market share and list the top 10 competitors for Android. Houston, we have a problem. There is but one real competitor for Android, and if Google tries to list things like Microsoft Windows or Sailfish OS, regulators will not be pleased. Windows does not compete with Android because one is mobile and the other is not, and software like Sailfish OS might be great and more people should try it, but the market share is going to be well under 1%.
This is going to matter because Android is nothing but a conduit towards Google services by design. I think Android is a great product and most everyone reading this is going to agree, but we all know why Google gives it away for free yet requires stringent adherence to specific rules if a company wants access to Google services: because that's what makes Android valuable and desirable. Ask yourself if you would use an Android device without any access to Google Play and you'll see what I mean here.
Android holds 50% of the U.S. market because Google has done so well integrating its services. That's by design. The other 50% of the U.S. market belongs to Apple, which also has a tightly controlled ecosystem of services including the App Store. It doesn't even allow other companies to use its software. the difference — and why Apple isn't under antitrust investigation — is because Apple doesn't have the equivalent of Ad Mob, or YouTube, or Gmail, or Search, or Nest, or Waze and you get the picture by now.
I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of the investigators recommends that Alphabet be forced to spin off Google into its own company or even if Android should be an independent entity. That's not going to solve any of the other issues and probably wouldn't fix anything, but it's a token gesture that shows an official is looking out for constituents by breaking up "big tech" and that's all the rage in 2019. Or maybe Google simply walks away paying a pittance of a fine once again. We just have to wait and see.
Get the Android Central Newsletter
Instant access to breaking news, the hottest reviews, great deals and helpful tips.
Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.
To me that just doesn't make good business sense.
When you have a company that makes it's income off of analytics, and claims anonymity, just because it doesn't have your name attached to it doesn't really mean anonymity.
Those analytics - could possibly - include your age, gender, income bracket, race, religion, demographic area, country, province, job profession, social habits, frequent eateries, frequent hotels, travel / vacation spots, countries being visited etc. - all professional and social profiling.
If location tracking was on all the time, one could track basically all of the above mentioned.
That is valuable information.
A wealth of information to target advertising etc.
Should an individual have the right to choose to participate or block all of that? Yes.
That information can also be used for propaganda - now we have a different scenario... Perception Management.... Good and bad - and it works - very well.
Should an operating system allow this?
Should an operating system block this?
Analytics can also be embedded into an application by the developer... So...?
Analytics I believe was initially developed to help developers troubleshoot operating system and application issues some years ago.
Since then I - believe - it has gone to a whole new level - and profiling is the name of the game.
Follow the money.
So... Android not Google is controlling the mobile market so there can't be compatition?!?! They let apple iOS users install the same Google applications Android users can. Gmail is available on both. And as far as Android fragmentation it's in both Google and the phone manufacturing companies best interests to protect there users by offering them the best security updates and features by conforming to the outline provided by Google to use Google play services. There are lots of other phone manufacturers outside the USA that don't use Google services and you can still go to gmail.com and check your email just like any other mobile device. The reason they don't get access to Google services like playstore and Google pay is becuase the hardware is weak and cheap. It can't perform full disk encryption or other things required to keep the device secure. As for US customers they want the comfort of security, they are willing to pay for premium hardware and specs so why not get the most out of the device. If you don't want to fully integrated Google service on your shiny new Samsung you can generally install another os that doesn't have Google services integrated, and if Joe politician doesn't understand how maybe it's time they stop taking tax payers money hand over fit to sit in nice cozy offices bickering about petty stuff and read up on how to make there own OS. Android is free Linux based and fully documented. Anyone on Earth can build there own OS and that doesn't sound like antitrust to me. Let's point our little pea brains at real antitrust issues. Why can't I install FaceTime on my Windows phone. I want Internet explorer on my iPad. What a bunch of hypocritical bull dung.
Google is an American company, operating out of the US. So even if their actions within the US might not represent monopolistic behaviour, their actions outside do. And much like Google's forbidden to provide services to Huawei even in Europe, even though American laws are worthless here, they also need to answer for their practices outside the US.
Specially when those practices are hurting OTHER American companies. I would be glad to see Android split up from Google. Because: "Ask yourself if you would use an Android device without any access to Google Play and you'll see what I mean here." Yes. I would. As long as I could get apps through another store (Samsung Store, Amazon Store, Aptoide, etc), I wouldn't care if the phone didn't have any Google services. I don't use them anyway, despite Google's attempts to shove them down my throat.
And those attempts are exactly why probes like this are good. In the long terms, it's the consumers that benefit. Without these probes, Google wouldn't even be around anymore. Because it was one of these probes that allowed Chrome into people's PCs.