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The EU Antitrust case against Android sucks for everyone, especially you

Google's Mountain View campus
Google's Mountain View campus (Image credit: Android Central)

The European Union just told Google it has 90 days to pay €4.34 billion ($5.06 billion) for violating its antitrust rules, claiming the company has been forcing manufacturers to bundle Google Search, Chrome, and the Play Store as a bundle in phones that ship with Android. Since most people use the apps that are included on the phone, this move supposedly encourages people to use Google products without ever trying anything else. Google is appealing the ruling, claiming Android gives people more choice and creates a firm ground for developers to build for the largest possible audience. While there's undoubtedly going to be some conversation in the coming weeks over what that appeal is going to look like, it's clear Google's explanations for how Android functions openly is no longer enough, and things are probably going to have to change.

And, if you ask me, that sucks.

How we got here

In the early days of Android, Google let manufacturers put basically whatever they wanted on the phone as long as some minimum system requirements were met for the Android Market. And manufacturers did, in fact, install whatever they wanted. We had phones launch in the U.S. with over 100 pre-loaded apps; phones launch with Bing as the default search engine; and so many other generally terrible and user-hostile offerings to please the companies funding the launch — mainly carriers and manufacturers. These phones were terrible, and remained terrible when they didn't get a single software update. It was a bad time, and made recommending anything that didn't have the Nexus branding on the side pretty difficult.

Around 2013, Google stepped up and added restrictions to its Google Mobile Services agreements. Those restrictions included what could be placed on the home screen someone sees when the phone first starts, how many apps could be pre-installed, and a bunch of other very specific details. These agreements are all private between Google and its partners, but every once in a while details are made public for these agreements. Basically, as long as the manufacturer follows those rules it gets access to Google's Play Services and suite of apps like Chrome, Search, YouTube, Maps, and so on.

This is where things get a little iffy. Several versions of this agreement have required Google apps to be front and center on that initial home screen. Google's Search bar needed to be there, and folders with Google's apps needed to be there. And if you look at any new Android phone today, that initial home screen is pretty much identical across the ecosystem. Google's placement is prominent, specific, and consistent across the Android landscape right now — as long as that phone ships with the Play Store.

What the EU sees as wrong

The claim against Google right now is that, in forcing manufacturers to put these three apps front and center, it strong-arms its partners, prevents suppresses competition, and keeps people from looking at other options. Specifically, the EU says including Google Search, Chrome, and the Google Play Store as mandatory apps in the Google Mobile Services bundle is wrong. Many analysts have likened Android today to how Windows looked before Microsoft lost its own antitrust cases in the mid-90's. If people don't know there are other choices, they won't go looking for them. There are a few problems with this comparison, but the overall claim is Google has forced people to use its apps and is reaping the benefits of that enforcement.

Android is only as good as it is now because of the Google Play Store.

Google's response makes a lot of sense. Anyone can uninstall or disable the pre-loaded apps and replace them with different apps from any developer. Many manufacturers make their own versions of Google's apps and install them right alongside Google's. And if manufacturers want Android itself to come with no strings attached, manufacturers don't need to use the Play Store. Android is free code that anyone can fork or alter, as Amazon has been doing for years. But the Google Play Store and its related apps do have some big rules to follow. That distinction has never really been clear to the public, because while Google wants people to know Android is open it also wants people to know Google and Android are one and the same.

There's a lot about this EU ruling which is troubling. First, the EU seems to only care about three of the eleven apps Google is including in its bundle. There's no call to strip Google Maps, for example, only Search, Chrome and the Play Store. Second, this decision fundamentally misunderstands how deeply integrated into one another these systems are and seems to intentionally observe them as standalone apps. Android is only as good as it is now because of the Google Play Store and Play Services. Through this, Google enforces security across the platform and wraps up a majority of the new features you hear about when a new version is announced. Android without Google services isn't just Android without apps, it's an entirely different and significantly less functional experience.

The appeal being made by Google is essentially claiming the environment it created within Android allows for more choice instead of less. Developers can build for a single platform and get a consistent experience across thousands of different devices, which manufacturers can give users access to by following Google's rules. With all of these manufacturers competing on such even software footing, the hardware-based feature fight has caused the price of hardware to go down which Google says is also good everyone. By creating a single platform for all of these manufacturers to compete against Apple, Google claims its decisions have been a net positive.

The future might suck a lot if Google loses

When Microsoft was slapped with antitrust fines, it reacted by removing Internet Explorer entirely and giving users multiple browsers to choose from. The company later backed down from this and went back to including its own browser but making it very easy to install others, but the overall decision did not make Internet Explorer more or less popular. That browser already had lots of problems and even more competition, and without pointing fingers at other popular mobile platforms it is a nontrivial detail that Google allows you to set any app as the default, such as the browser.

Chrome, inside Android, encourages a lot of choice for users.

Android is overall a little different from Windows anyway. The mobile platform tightly integrates a lot of things, and Chrome is much more than just an app. Micro versions of Chrome exist in many Android apps, because developers recognized this mini Chrome was much more stable and functional than building their own in-app browser. Chrome is the underpinning for things like Android Instant Apps, which directly encourages developers to build tools that make it easier for users to try new apps and move away from the installed default. Chrome, inside Android, encourages a lot of choice for users. Taking that away will absolutely make Android users less likely to try new things and just stick with what is installed.

Assistant is another thing that will suffer if this decision forces Google to disconnect its apps from the central nervous system of Android. Access to Google's knowledge graph is what makes Assistant so powerful, and Search is arguably the most important part of that. Bing is never going to integrate into Google Assistant to provide results, even if those results were worth using. There's no arguing Assistant is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition right now because of its ability to deeply yet safely integrate into the lives of its users, and removing that key component could take a very long time to functionally work around.

Google has been building toward this grand unified experience for a while now, and a lot of that work will take several steps back as a result of this decision if it is enforced. Here's hoping the appeal yields positive results.

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

  • While I'm not entirely convinced about the EU ruling, this is a very biased article, which completely overlooks one of the arguments made by the EU, which is that it's not okay for Google to prohibit OEMs to sell ANY Android-based device without Google services if they want to sell even one of those. Imagine if Android were open-source from some other company and Google only made the Play Services and placed this restriction on OEMs. Not cool, right?
    Now you may say, but Google is the one developing Android - well, yes, but that's their choice, with its respective consequences. I think this article also misunderstands this ruling as OEMs not being allowed to bundle Google and Chrome anymore but that's absolutely not the case. It's about giving them the choice not to, despite bundling the Play Services. I see no reason why the majority of OEMs would stop bundling Google with their phones. And if some OEM does, you have the choice to go to another (or just download the app yourself). "Second, this decision fundamentally misunderstands how deeply integrated into one another these systems are and seems to intentionally observe them as standalone apps."
    They absolutely are standalone apps. I use Google Maps but I don't use Chrome and there is no problem at all. Even so, I don't really see how this should in any way have an influence on the EU ruling. "Micro versions of Chrome exist in many Android apps, because developers recognized this mini Chrome was much more stable and functional than building their own in-app browser."
    What does this have to do with anything here? "Bing is never going to integrate into Google Assistant to provide results, even if those results were worth using."
    So in the theoretical case that some OEM would not bundle Google for some reason (which won't happen in most cases) and a user of that phone wanted to use Google Assistant, why couldn't they just download the Google search app?
  • Sorry I can easily name you over 5 brand including Amazon that use android whitout google service. You are clearly the biased one and the rest of your comment has nothing ground. Don't speak about stuff you do not understand plz.
  • I now see that I didn't word my post very clearly. What I meant to say was that what Google does not allow an OEM is to sell a device with Google Play and one without, at least not in the same market. If you want to sell a device with Google Play, then you are not allowed to sell another device without it.
  • I think you misunderstand that Chrome and Google and other Google apps aren't just apps, they are also APIs that can break a lot of apps that rely on them if they aren't present. Even if you don't use Chrome, some of your apps likely need Chrome's libraries to function.
  • Do they? I can disable/uninstall Chrome just fine and I've never seen a problem. What would those APIs be?
    And even if they do exist, is there a particular technical necessity to make them part of the Chrome browser?
  • Gatanui, you are a complete DUMB-ASS!
  • Wait... you uninstalled Chrome from a Google Play Services enabled Android device? Did you root it? And what happens if you use an app that uses Chrome within the app (official Reddit app for example uses Chrome to display websites)?
  • I didn't uninstall it but I did disable it. Not sure why I said uninstall in my post above, I think it was late.
    In that case, those apps use Android WebView instead, don't they?
  • Disabling it just prevents it from running as an independent app. The APIs are still there, and parts of it still run when using countless apps. I'm actually pretty sure that you haven't disabled it though, but only hidden it instead. PS: Webview is a system component, and part of Chrome. In Windows it would be considered a DLL library.
  • I did fully disable it, as in going to settings and tapping the disable button.
    Isn't there Android System WebView as a separate app that acts as a fallback if Chrome is not present, though?
  • "They absolutely are standalone apps. I use Google Maps but I don't use Chrome and there is no problem at all. Even so, I don't really see how this should in any way have an influence on the EU ruling." No, they are ***NOT*** stand alone apps. They may look like that to you, someone who clearly doesn't have any software development background, but they are DEEPLY integrated. When you tap on a restaurant in maps, it uses CHROME to find hours of operation, reviews, etc. When you tap on an address it uses MAPS to provide you a link to a map. Just because they have different icons does not mean they aren't connected. Behind the scenes they share data sources, code libraries and services. Trying to unglue all of that would be like taking the internet back to Web 1.0 days.
  • Eh, this isn't entirely true. I don't believe Maps uses a mini-Chrome view. You can say it uses Google Search to provide those hours of operation, but I'm pretty sure its not relying on a webview to display that information. And Chrome uses "Google Maps the online service", but not "Google Maps the app" to provide you that map in search (same as on your desktop, which you don't need Google Maps installed).
    Not saying I agree with the original poster, just saying this isn't why you should disagree.
  • I absolutely do have software development background, it's how I earn my money.
    None of the things you said require Chrome and Maps to share any code. Neither does tapping on a restaurant in Maps require the Chrome app in any shape or form (it may require a WebView but Chrome is not the only one there, see Android System WebView) nor does tapping an address need any code from the Maps app. Do you know what "deeply integrated" means?
  • You kind of have to hack phones without Google Services to use the Play Store. A large number of Google and non-Google apps rely on Google Play Services. The "mini-chrome" comment is that you need Chrome to utilize mini-chrome. If you visit a site in mini-chrome, its using components from Chrome to do so (that's why it'll show up in your history on the main chrome app). So Chrome is extremely important to have on the phone. Maps wasn't mentioned as one of the apps they wanted to drop, so its great that you think its not tied to Chrome, but it *is* tied to Google Play Services, so its actually tied to the Play Store in a way. Search is probably the only one you sort of can make an argument that its not as big of a deal as the others. You can use Bing as your search engine and still use Assistant. Those search engines don't have to match. But Chrome and Play Services... those are pretty much requirements if you want a large user base and a secure environment.
  • You don't need "mini-chrome", though, as there is also Android System WebView as a fallback.
    I absolutely agree that Play Services are pretty much a requirement for an Android device in Europe (don't agree about Chrome, though). So basically apart from the point about Chrome we're agreeing here.
  • Again, Webview is powered by Chrome. It's just a system component, and uses Chrome to do the heavy lifting. SMH.
  • Can you explain to me what this is then? Yes, it's powered by Chromium - not by the Chrome app, though, which is what we're talking about here (or at least I am). The Chrome app absolutely can provide WebView but when the Chrome app is not present or disabled, you can use Android System WebView (see my link) instead, which does not require Chrome to be installed on your device. It's basically a copy of the Chrome JS and HTML engines, sans Chrome's UI, syncing etc.
  • Completely agree with you. Very biased article that doesn't seem to understand the Windows comparison.
    This is exactly the same as Windows.
    All UWP apps (as well as WPF and Forms by default) that need browser services use API calls to the web engine behind Edge (prior to Windows 10 it was the web engine behind IE). Microsoft was able to extricate the IE browser (front end) and still had the web engine. There's no reason why Android couldn't have the Webkit engine without having to have Chrome (the browser front end) installed. As for the Play Store - I don't see what the issue is with it being built in if you want Google's Android. It's no different to Windows or iOS/MacOS. I think the Play Store should be locked to only Google's Android, as just like the Windows Store and iTunes, developers know exactly the OS and available APIs they are building to this way. Overall the argument that "users can install whatever they want" doesn't fly because Microsoft already got burnt with that and this is the same situation.
  • This is what happens when you abuse your market position. I am actually surprised androidcentral even posted this article as they never ever say a bad word about google.
  • They abused it so bad to make Android consistent and a whole lot less fragmented than it was in the Moto Droid / HTC G1 days .. let them abuse away. Otherwise as others have said .. a Pixel is the only choice. And you'll never get another Samsung update again .. only pressure from Google has made this happen with their monthly patch releases. If it wasn't for this abuse as you call it ... we'd be 1k worse.
  • Honestly, I think both parties are wrong here. Google shouldn't have been pushing *all* of its apps. If they just left Chrome, Play Store installed, but left the other apps and search up to the OEM, EU may not have noticed anything that bad. Google would just have to enforce that the apps must come through the Play Store and all apps can be uninstalled (except Chrome & Play Store) and that search can be changed by the user. If they had done this, maybe the EU wouldn't have said anything. But to have all of Google Docs (definitely not required) and everything front and center and not uninstallable, they went too far, but the EU is focusing on the wrong things and that's where the EU isn't seeing it correctly.
  • The simple answer here is that if people want the Android experience that Google intends then they should just buy a Pixel or Android One device. That advice has not really changed for years. I might not like the EU decision, but it's really hard to dismiss the claims as without merit.
  • Except buying a pixel or android one device isn't going to stop what the EU is complaining about.... 
  • This is about choice for OEMs more than choice for users, so Pixel has nothing to do with this really.
  • That is his point. Other OEM's may change what they do with the phones because of this ruling, but as Google is the one selling the Pixel, they will not be effected by the rulling
  • Exactly. The argument against the EU ruling is essentially "the user experience will suffer", but for the user a solution to that already exists. That segment of the Android market (those that want Android the way Google intended) is already best served by the devices that Google sells themselves. In fact, the more I think about it, the more the EU ruling makes sense from a consumer choice perspective. There is of course risk that it goes way too far in that direction....
  • The problem with your opinion, is the fact that not all of us want a sub par pixel phone with software bugs up the wazoo, no headphone jack, no SD card, no dual SIM option, no Amoled on all devices,, come on we don't all want some crappy pixel products. Some of us some of us actually like having options like MST technology for Samsung pay, O LED displays, headphone jacks, s pen, how about LG's V40 coming out - you can't have absolutely premium sound you can't get any of that with a crapy assed pixel! If you want a pixel experience I can have a Samsung phone with Nova launcher or action launcher and get a pixel style experience while still retaining my hardware that is actually superior. The EU in is the butt the fu*k out!
  • Samsung isn't prohibited by the EU to offer the Playstore/services bundle with all the apps, but I do agree with the EU that Samsung shouldn't be forced to install each and every app Google sees fit.
    Also, Samsung should indeed be allowed to sell their own Android fork. I don't even think they will try anymore, but Google shouldn't have the de facto power to prevent them to even try competing with Google Services.
  • Samsung has a pretty clear history of making garbage "clone" apps and services that have taken more than a few iterations to get only a few of them in a semi decent state.
    Letting them loose to release their own versions of everything would be extremely detrimental for the perceived usability and security of Android. They (or any of the OEM's for that matter) will never out-do Google's services and the resulting fragmentation of Android as they all try to force people to use their own apps will just drive Apple to be the dominant player in the mobile market.
  • Samsung could still make a phone with all the features you want. Just maybe not with the version of Android that you want. No one would be stopping them. They already make phones that DON'T address the market I specified....those that want the Android experience Google intended. Same with LG, Xiaomi, Huawei, etc.
  • So, the solution is market fragmentation? You want to make Android more like Linux?
  • What you call market fragmentation others call competition.
  • I imagine that Google can still enforce consistency and guidelines without requiring Google apps. Or you know... shut the whole thing down, go the Apple route, and crank out Pixels. (I kid, of course).
  • You might be kidding, but going the closed-ecosystem would be a perfectly reasonable response from Google. Moreover, they've set themselves up perfectly do to just that on a moment's notice. It's very possible that in the near future, Google will tell every Android manufacturer that they can no longer include the Play Store on devices sold in the EU (but they can everywhere else). Suddenly, your smartphone market consists of Apple, Google, and Samsung (since they have their own app store).
  • The more likely case is they use a closed-source license for future AOSP releases. They can modify the setup screens to allow people to change their search engine, browser, email client, and so forth
  • They can do the latter without any need for the former, though.
  • Why exactly would they do that instead of just lifting the requirement to bundle all Google apps for devices sold in the EU? That makes no sense at all. Sure, they'd suffer some losses that way but significantly less than if they did as you suggested.
  • So they should put all the hard work and man power to give it away for free and let OEM's do as they please with it? The entire reason Google "tightened things up" was because back when android first started it was a dumpster fire of access and usability (and as someone who lived through Verizon and their shenanigans preloading every and any garbage app as the default, I am glad Google pulled things back. Not to mention the EU seems to be only taking issue with a limited number of pre-loaded apps (not all of the bundled apps).
  • It was Google that decided to use the give it for free business model. Do you think they would have got to 80% market share if they had kept it on their phones only?
  • Ok, so how were OEMs like Samsung, LG, etc., doing before Android compared to today? Both sides one in the partnership, but now some of the OEMs want a larger piece of the pie, and this effort by the EU has strong backing from a log of Google's competition, Microsoft, Oracle, various search providers, all of whom have a vested interest seeing Google taken down a few pegs.
  • Chrome and the Play Store (and the associated Play Services) are the only real apps that need to be bundled. Beyond that, you have a point that I agree with. Google Docs, Maps, etc. don't need to be installed and Search is easily dealt with (just have them choose the default upon setup). However, 2 of the 3 complaints really can't be fixed in the way the EU wants.
  • Serves Google right, they used to rat out and complain against Microsoft bundling IE in Windows as an anti-trust case, enjoy your own medicine now.
  • Really? The end to their anti-trust trial over IE was in 2001 ... Chrome was released in 2008. So maybe a URL of them ******** about this? :D
  • In the 90s?
  • Microsoft got what they deserve, Google's isn't doing anything wrong here,it's not like you're forced to use Google's apps, pike down Google hater. I'm with Google on this one. Google is only ever been about giving users choice with Android.
  • I think you misunderstand the complaint. Google is doing almost exactly the same thing as MS did. "Google is only ever been about giving users choice with Android" - or the illusion of choice. Most users (those that don't read AC and other tech blogs) probably have no idea that you can change the web browser, or the keyboard, or that you can use a third party email client. Can you change the default search engine used with the GOOGLE search bar/widget? Nope, which is specifically one complaint the EU has. I sound like a Google hater, and I'm not. I have a Pixel 2 XL and I love it. But I'm also able to see how they can use their dominance in the market place to squeeze out other players. Just like MS did with IE back in the day....
  • It's not the same thing that Microsoft was fined for. The problem back then was Microsoft had been trying to fork the internet...literally. They introduced proprietary web technologies and idiosyncratic behavior in Internet Explorer that often made web sites incompatible with other browsers. I was an early adopter of the Phoenix browser on Windows. At least a third of the websites that I came across did not render properly and many outright refused to load. Some websites would run a browser check, and if IE wasn’t detected then I would be kicked out to an error page. Even though we had the freedom of installing another browser, there wasn’t much utility in it. In the end, the undoing of Internet Explorer was not really due to the decoupling the browser from the OS, it was because of the poor performance and security of IE in comparison to rival browsers. That's the difference. Google isn't spurning standards, it's trying to establish them so apps can run consistently across devices.
  • It's actually both. But note which reason is listed first. Also, if you think Google can't try to "fork" the internet just give it some time. Remember when they forked Webkit and created Blink? The evidence gathered during the investigation leads the Commission to believe that the tying of Internet Explorer with Windows, which makes Internet Explorer available on 90% of the world's PCs, distorts competition on the merits between competing web browsers insofar as it provides Internet Explorer with an artificial distribution advantage which other web browsers are unable to match. The Commission is concerned that through the tying, Microsoft shields Internet Explorer from head to head competition with other browsers which is detrimental to the pace of product innovation and to the quality of products which consumers ultimately obtain. In addition, the Commission is concerned that the ubiquity of Internet Explorer creates artificial incentives for content providers and software developers to design websites or software primarily for Internet Explorer which ultimately risks undermining competition and innovation in the provision of services to consumers.
  • Forking a browser isn't forking the internet. MS was basically pushing for an internet that only worked on IE (remember back in the day... "This website is best viewed in Internet Explorer"). Forking Webkit is nowhere near the same thing. Microsoft tried to change the roads so only MS-branded cars could drive on it. Google just made a second kind of car, but still pushed for the roads to be driveable by everybody. Kind of a weird analogy, but I hope it makes it clear how way off base this part of the discussion has gotten.
  • This. Even website development was a pain, because you essentially had to code two versions if you wanted it to work on all browsers. One correctly coded to standards version for everything BUT IE, and one version for IE with its non-standard (and sometimes flat out buggy - which you'd include a workaround) implementation of standards.
  • You're actually missing the point entirely. The primary reason the EU went after them was bundling. The secondary reason was everything else. I don't recall 100% for sure (and could therefor be wrong), but the EU did not force MS to change the way they were building IE, nor did they force MS to change IE to comply with web standards. Is that correct? They ONLY cared about bundling stifling user choice and competition.
  • How the hell do regular users not know they can change the apps when after you open ANY browser or even text message apps etc. You are BY DEFAULT allowed to choose to change the app FOR EVERY APP all the time. Those apps show pop ups to let you decide if you want to CHOOSE TO SET IT AS YOUR DEFAULT APP!!!! Please pick some new material
  • Users have to first know that alternatives to bundled apps exist.
  • You can use a different search bar/widget. Does the Bing search bar let you change the default search engine? No. In any case, I'm almost in agreement with you here. I think Google should allow the OEM to choose a search bar to include (but must be uninstallable) and just allow users to download a Google one from the Play Store. I don't agree with the EU on Play Services or Chrome though. Too many apps rely on them to work. Also, the Pixels aren't affected by this decision. Its all the other phones. The Pixel is more closed device than from other manufacturers. There are things you can change on other phones that you can't on a Pixel.
  • I could see an argument being made that Google made Play Services and Chrome the way they did so that not including them was impossible, and therefor a requirement by default. A shrewd business move kind of thing.
  • Bing has its own Search bar Widget same with Duckduckgo among others. Google search bar widget is part of the app.
  • Now that I understand the the basics of why Google has been fined, the one thing that I agree with is that Google shouldn't prevent OEMs from making Android phones without Google apps and services but EU is wrong for everything else. Google is maintaining consistency for Android with these policies.
  • Microsoft were actually guilty of what happened to them but now that I've taken time to fully understand the gist of it, I do agree Google overstepped the mark by noy allowing OEMs to make an Android phone without Google apps and services. But the EU is wrong on everything else.
  • Google are getting a taste of the same medicine they broke the law and have to pay the price Google fan boy... 😁 Get over it...
  • Show proof of your anti google content or keep it to yourself. Url or similar will be helpful.
  • All this is going to do is eventually cause Google to close up Android just like Apple has iOS
  • I doubt it. Google is nowhere near Apple's brand power when it comes to selling hardware/phones. They make their money with ads etc., so they want Android to be everywhere.
    We can be glad that we got a company like Google to be "king of the internet", as they usually push standards, security, useabilty etc. for the better of all users. But still, that doesn't mean they should be completely unchecked in their very dominant market position, which they are indeed using to keep out competitors.
  • Google can define challenge Apple as a brand. The Pixel line is steadily increasing in sales little by little. Google just needs to market the Pixels better and make them widely available
  • Wow. Did you CC your boss at Alphabet to let them know how well you served them?
  • But there are no better options than what Google provides. Gmail, Chrome, Google Calendar, etc Apple forces you to use Safari, iMessage, etc. But as usual, they get a free pass.
  • MS have a full suite of alternative apps you can use on iOS devices... Only difference is you can't change default apps... I can't uninstall the Google apps I don't want to use I can only disable them because they are part of the OS...
  • Can you uninstall iMessage or Safari on iOS? Does the Fruit give you alternative options when first started? Nah. Apple once again gets a free pass.
  • Exactly!
  • Do Apple put their OS on other hardware apart from their own? That's probably why.
  • Apple is not a search giant nor does it earn money by selling data or doing mass ads/marketing... There is a huge difference between two companies.
  • Same thing happens in iOS. It was only recently that we could "hide" the apps from the main screen.
  • There are better apps than the Google defaults... Gmail, Outlook or Blackberry Hub... Chrome, Edge, Opera, Firefox and Samsung browser... Google Calender, Outlook, Blackberry Calender...
  • Yeah, I don't want BlackBerry and their services reading my emails and notifications.
  • There's nothing better than Google's suite of apps, Outlook is crap and didn't know about BlackBerry hub don't want to either. Google isn't perfect but there's few decent alternatives.
  • The argument isn't that something else is or isn't better. For most things "better" is subjective anyway.
  • Imagine if the US tried to dictate to several major European companies on what they can and cannot do with their own products? Exactly, that part! Microsoft, Facebook, Intel, Oracle & Google have all been bullied and harassed by these EU foriegn thugs. Now I see why Trump called the EU an adversary just yesterday!
  • I give you the auto industry. End discussion.
  • I am sorry, but are you being serious now? What about VW and NOx scandal? They haven't followed the rules in US and cheated people and they went being fined. Only you Yankees are being butthurt when you deliberately break the law and cry foul. End of the discussion.
  • Shouldn't the EU go after Samsung, HTC, Huawei, or LG because they put their apps on the phone and they cannot be unistalled? Aren't their apps on there as the default in some instances? To me it seems like an over reach by the EU.
  • Having market dominance is a big part of who the EU chooses to go after.
  • Having cash to spare is a big part of who the EU chooses to go after -- when you have the wellfare state, the penny extorted is the penny earned.
  • Google has less cash than Apple. Your point is incorrect.
  • The only reason Crapple had more money is because they charge for EVERYTHING abd overpriced EVERYTHING, Money is irrelevant. Android has the market share worldwide by over 80%+.
  • > Google has less cash than Apple. Your point is incorrect. You forgot to add "End discussion" and that weakened your point :)
  • I wasn't trying to end the discussion though. :)
  • Please don't give that high moral speech. You invaded so many countries for oil for fck sake,and now you are being butthurt and triggered when you deliberately break the law and get fined. Grow up!
  • Samsung dominates the Android market.
  • And Samsung is subject to Google's requirements for deploying Android with the Play Store and Play Services.
  • Samsung has the choice to take Google out of the equation and instead use Android aosp, Samsung appstore, Samsung Internet browser and Bixby. Guess what, they choose not to do this.
  • Is the Samsung search giant? Does it sells data (spying on people) to get the money?
  • So why isn't Samsung using AOSP? After all, they've experimented with it (and Tizen, but that's another story). They could use their own apps, search, and app store. The answer is simple: customers don't want that. At the end of the day, the EU sees Google in a dominant position and wants to fragment Android to weaken it. PS: I never saw a word from them about Nokia when Symbian had 60-70% market share.
  • That's a poor analogy. Was Nokia licensing Symbian to other OEM's and then telling them that if they used it they couldn't use any other version of it? You think the answer is that consumers don't want Samsung built software, and my response is that most customers don't care who builds it. They just want it to do what they want to do and offer the apps they want to use. Why did Samsung start using Android? I'm sure the answer has a lot to do with money, and how much cheaper it was than building their own OS, maintaining it, and actively courting developers for their own app store (over and over again, because updates are a thing). I offer Microsoft as an example of how hard that is to do from the ground up.
  • It is absolutely an overreach and they are probably doing it to give it to us poor Americans who are stuck with the trumptard... he had been sh!++y to the EU and maybe they are trying to shove it to us with the trade tariffs, etc. It wouldn't be the first time rival politics caused issues with export from other countries for the own political gain (before anyone says it, yes, software is considered a product- just look at the ZTE fiasco)
  • It's called being fined for breaking the law. I bet in US you have the same, except you don't pay fine, you get ended in jail.
  • I blame both parties: Google for being the bully and selfish, and the EU for yet again digging deep into foreign corporation's pockets to grab money.
  • Eh, Google was warned, and they have legal teams who's job it is to know "local" laws and make sure the company abides by them.
  • At least we have a government somewhere looking out for its citizens.
  • this is just a curious question. Why doesn't the same thing happen to Apple? They make their own OS, force everyone to use their apps on their own OS while providing an app that Iphone users have that "same illusion" of choice as well.
  • Probably because apple has a small marketshare. Not to mention there is only 1 phone that runs IOS and that is an iphone so its their phone they can do as they please. Android has hundreds (thousands) of different phones and OEMs. 
  • Exactly
  • That is because the problem with Google is that they are making the phone companies have all the Google apps if they want the Play Store. For example if Samsung wants the Play Store they have to have all the Google apps in the home screen installed. Same can be said for other companies like One plus Huawei, HTC etc...
  • Apple is not a search giant nor does it earn money by selling data or doing mass ads/marketing... There is a huge difference between two companies.
  • Wrong! Apple is just as guilty as everyone else at selling your data to third party companies.
  • There is actually a simple answer to this going forward. Google should simply stop allowing mfgs to sell any phones in the EU with Google Services and in turn ramp up production of Pixel phones for EU. Since Pixel phones are made by Google it would be no different then Apple and iPhones. Then in the rest of the world they continue to do business as normal. Google would drastically increase Pixel sales and in the end it would stick it to the EU as they would end up losing choice but would not remove all Android phones from the EU market.
  • Only pixel phones in the EU?
    Won't happen......
    They are a dying breed.....
  • The point is that there is an option for Google to be in the EU and not have to follow these rules. It would be the same as Apple is doing with the iPhone. As far as your comment about Pixel phones being a dying breed that's just downright stupid! Sales increased from the Pixel to Pixel2 and the Pixel 3 is right around the corner. My money says sales will continue to increase. Just because you have an issue with Pixel phones does not mean they are not selling. Sure, they don't compare to Samsung in sales but if they make it the only Android phone with Google services in the EU and that could change things really fast. They may not be the best Android phones but they are still great Android phones and if it was the only option in the EU with Google services they would sell a ton of them, period! BTW... I don't own a Pixel, went with a V30 as I wanted wireless charging and microSD but otherwise it's very identical to the Pixel 2 XL and IMO it's still one of the best Android phones available. It would a great way for Google to stick it to the EU while at the same time drastically increasing Pixel sales. Maybe after the EU realizes that it screwed their own people and actually took away choice they would reverse their own decision or maybe not and Google hardware sales would skyrocket because there are a lot of people that want Android phones and Google services. There is also a lot of people that refuse to buy an iPhone...
  • Now this I'd love to see happen.
  • You keep thinking that. Your comment is far from reality. It will NEVER happen. Sales of the pixel line is NOWHERE close to any other cheaper phone. Not talking about Samsung or Apple, ect.....
    Google needs to step aside and let's the big dogs make the next pixel. They are literally giving them away. Sales often do increase when you give something away for free.
  • What a load of bullsh*t in a single article. "The EU Antitrust case against Android sucks for everyone, especially you" No. It sucks FOR YOU. For me, for example, this means it will suck a lot less as I'll be able to still get the apps from the Play Store and not have to keep having my phone bogged down or its space occupied by a ton of Google bloatware.
    Not everyone likes Google services. Many of us use Android precisely because it's an open platform. Deal with it. "Google's response makes a lot of sense. Anyone can uninstall or disable the pre-loaded apps and replace them with different apps from any developer." No, it does not.
    You can't uninstall Google's bloatware. And just because you can disable it, it'll still be not only a threat to your privacy, but it will be TAKING SPACE on your phone. Only being able to disable Google's bloatware means you're effectively being punished for not wanting to offer Google your data or using their services. "if manufacturers want Android itself to come with no strings attached, manufacturers don't need to use the Play Store." Except the Play Store is where the apps are. This is why Windows Phone died. Lack of apps.
    And what Google is doing and your 'murican brain apparently can't get its head around, is that this is ABUSE OF DOMINANT POSITION. What Google is doing is blackmailing manufacturers with the Play Store to force them to spam people with their services, instead of trying to get people unto their services simply via the quality of the product, as they did with Google Search decades ago.
    This makes sense to Google because their services are mostly sh*t, but it is negative for everyone else. "The appeal being made by Google is essentially claiming the environment it created within Android allows for more choice instead of less." If this were true what Google would offer the EU Commission would be the following: going forward, ALL Google applications CAN be completely uninstalled in Europe. OEMs have to pre-install the apps to get the Play Store BUT they will no longer be impossible to uninstall to the normal user. Then the user will decide if they want to keep the Play Store or not, if they want to keep Chrome or not, etc. Of course, Google will NEVER do that because that would mean the immediate death of 95% of their bloatware with only Chrome, Google Search and YouTube surviving (and maybe Gmail). Google isn't interested in that. "Assistant is another thing that will suffer if this decision forces Google to disconnect its apps from the central nervous system of Android. " Google Assistant is absolutely and completely useless in the vast majority of Europe. You might love it in America but you should realise that your experiences with Google services are NOT the experiences the rest of the World gets. And so it's better for Google to search for another way now than when they - eventually if ever - make Google Assistant more than a sh*tty search function on Android in Europe. This goes for this ridiculous claim as well "There's no arguing Assistant is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition right now because of its ability to deeply yet safely integrate into the lives of its users". Actually yes, there is. Google assistant in Europe is as useless as any other AI assistant, be it Cortana, Siri or even Alexa. Once again, you pick your American experience and think it applies to the rest of the World. It does not. "Google has been building toward this grand unified experience for a while now, and a lot of that work will take several steps back as a result of this decision if it is enforced. Here's hoping the appeal yields positive results." Yes, they've been working on locking up Android, making it as uncustomisable as possible, filling it with Google's own bloatware and bullying manufacturers into it. They've been working in taking Android out of the open-source system and locking it up, just like iOS. So I agree. Let's hope the appeal yields positive results...and ends in the confirmation of the decision as well as an ultimatum for Google to either revert their practices or being broken up.
    Google is far too grand a company anyway. They're evermore a threat and threats need to be dealt with swiftly and with an iron fist.
    Let's hope the EU Commission - normally pretty useless - manages to do exactly that.
  • bla, bla, bla.... Go get a OnePlus and put Lineage on it. You are extreme minority in your position and frankly I can't understand how you think you have the right to use selective Google services for free without some compensation to Google. They may be multi billion dollar company but you do realize that the point to a business is to make money right? You think Google should just provide everything free with no compensation... Android OS is OPEN and FREE and you CAN you use that way but if you want the some of the great functionality the Google built you should have to pay for it one way or another. You are complete dumbass!
  • Compensated? You mean like being spayed all the time, getting data stolen and sold to the highest bidder? Forcing you to use their search tool to be highjacked even more? You Yankees are true idiots. No wonder why you have a police state there. You are just a modernized version of North Korea
  • Can’t wait for Google to allow the play store to be uninstalled and all the clueless people who delete it and wonder why they can’t get any apps. I could see making the “bloat” as you call it uninstallable, but making the play store able to be uninstalled is going to cause nothing but headaches for stores that sell the phones, and people who deal with phones. 
  • Dear Lord. Have you heard side loading? Only you need to have an app that is ridden of Google spying service, website to download .apk, allow untrusted apps and side load it. Please don't tell me that allowing untrusted apps would be a malware magnet, as your app store had a gazillion of malware infected apps and Bitcoin mining apps. Google was battling for years to get rid of them
  • Right on the target! And yes, I've been complaining about Google bloatware since Lollipop. It's was gradually taking over. They need to have all of the apps "uninstallable".
  • No they don't and Google apps aren't bloatware non Google apps that OEMs like Samsung shove down people's throats are bloatware, the Play Store and Chrome are core aops, good luck getting apps to work without the Play Store or you'll probably go some illegal route at the expense of security.
  • The only Google apps I need on my phone are Maps, YouTube and of course the Play Store. I don't want any of the other Google Apps. I wouldn't have a Gmail address if I want forced to have one when setting up the phone.
  • If you really believe this diatribe. Why (if you do) do you own an Android device?
  • So was Amazon forced to install stuff on their fire phone or tablets
  • No. The point is they cannot get the Play Store on their devices because they do not allow Google to preinstall all of their services.
  • Then why do iPhones ship with safari and itunes huh
  • First, read the article so you have some idea what the EU complaint is, then come back and tell us which OEM Apple is forcing to install Safari and iTunes.
  • People are literate enough to read but to understand not as much :)
  • "the overall claim is Google has forced people to use its apps and is reaping the benefits of that enforcement."
    So... the default Euro Android user is too ignorant or lazy to learn they can easily change the browser and/or search engine and that's Google's fault?
    Meaning what? The EU wants no browser or search engine...
    Or... they want Yandex or Bing some other Eurocentric search engine to be the apps that Euros are too ignorant and/or lazy to change - never mind that those apps contribute nothing towards developing or maintaining the platform.
    In other words the EU wants something for nothing because they're entitled to their state mandated corporate welfare.
  • This is going to be cutting your nose off to spite your face. EU has been itching to go after Google. Fine have at it, Though be prepared to do what China needed to do when Google pulled out. Europe is gonna be so F'ed if this stands.
  • The thing is Google can leverage this by selling Pixel phones in the EU and not allowing any mfgs to sell phones with Google Services to comply with the ruling. EU loses choice and Google drastically increases Pixel sales. EU people still have an option to have an Android phone. It's not perfect but EU brought this on themselves!
  • You think developers are going to make apps for the Play Store if there were only Pixel phones with the Play Store?
  • You think Google would only sell high-end Pixel phones if they went that way? They would have an entire range. It would take time for any other app store to gain traction. Samsung would be the closest to being able to do it, but only because they have the cash to pay developers to build for Tizen.
  • Yes, there is an entire world using Android/Google Services and this would not effect the rest of world only EU. In the EU Pixel would be like iPhone.
  • I like the sound of Pixels (high end and low end) being an alternative if this stupid EU ruling against Google sticks.
  • What other option do iphone users have instead of using the Appstore
  • I've got no loss of freedom on my device. I have Google play, Samsung apps and amazon apps running at the same time. I can install any Internet browser that I want to, but I choose to stick with chrome after already trying a few alternatives. I have both Google maps and Here maps and use Here a lot more for in car navigation, mainly because I can download large area maps, not need to use Internet and don't get constant bad route changes which are supposed to be quicker, that Google maps throws at me. My device has both Google assistant and Samsung's assistant and I can choose which to use and install others if I like. If anything, I liked Google Now and not liking being forced to use the Google Assistant update. If there is a complaint about manufacturers being forced to use Google apps front and center on their devices, the fact is that if any half decent manufacturer came out with a phone that had alternatives front and centre instead, like Bing search and their own little app store, it would likely be very unsuccessful in an open, democratic market They can do this freely anyway, with Android aosp and no-one is stopping them. This doesn't include a country like China that uses its communist government to block Google search and app store, because they don't want their citizens seeing certain things. A prime example being the recent ZTE debacle. They were facing not being able to use American hardware or software (Qualcomm and Google play) in their devices due to breaking sanctions rules by trading with Iran. They had options to use other hardware like Mediatek, Samsung or others. They could also have made their own app store in to use on their devices. They chose instead to pay a $1 Billion dollar fine and fire their entire board of directors and CEO to avoid this, as people would not want to buy their smartphones without the official Android app store and Google apps. They knew that it would be business suicide to do so. Anyway, the EU can go suck eggs as far as I'm concerned. Bring on Brexit!
  • Finally someone who talks sense and doesn't have an irrational hatred of Google's services and apps.
  • The EU is desperate for cash and insanely jealous of American Tech companies. That's all this is about.
  • Wahaha spoken like the common uninformed American.
  • Question to all readers.
    If Google Unbundle all apps (except OS core apps) and gave you an option to install apps as part of phone setup, would you be ok?
    People that want choice will get choice. (Although half of OS features won't work without Gapps integration like Google assistant without Google search, etc)
    And Android pursists will stick to Google apps as always.
    Plus no bloat since the concept of system apps would disappear since everything gets installed via play store.
    Win win for all.
  • the problem is that 2 of the 3 things the EU focused on are "core apps". Search is the only thing that Google can solve with minimum effort. Chrome and the Play Store are another beast entirely.
  • When I say core apps, I mean part of OS.. for ex like lte driver or display driver.. And maybe play store is the only exception since that is what will be used to install apps..
    Are you ok to install Google search and chrome as part of initial phone setup instead of these apps being default system apps??
    This could be a win win win for all for reasons mentioned above..
  • Apparently, Google CEO Sundar Pichai warned that Android may no longer be free if they lose their appeal against this ridiculous ruling, which will be bad for Google are well as Android as hole. Google is only trying to maintain consistency within Android that's what the stupid EU cannot understand, without Google core apps like Google Play service and the Play Store, good luck getting apps to work without them.
  • Looks as if your Google core apps ain't working like "autocorrect"....... have a pixel 2 XL 2018 model........
  • Fear mongering at its finest. Google used to be above that sort of tactic.....
  • It was wrong when they did it to Microsoft and it's wrong now. Bundling your own apps with your own OS is not evil, it's logical. Google isn't blocking anyone from installing alternatives. I usually have 3 or 4 browsers installed. I have Bing installed too.
  • The reason behind these rules is the possibility of harm to competition. If you utilize your market dominance to push others out of the market (ie: taking a huge loss that the competition can't afford to compete), it does harm the end user. There is definitely someone who's complaining to the EU about this. It might be Apple harming the competition, or OEMs are making a stink. Or maybe some third-party apps are complaining. Either way, its not simply the EU. They just arrived at the wrong decision in my opinion.
  • Here's the thing. When I had to go Android as no windows phone option was available, I installed Edge and chose it as default, got Microsoft launcher and set it as default. Despite never using chrome on this phone, it still sits there, bottom right on my start screen. It should have vanished as it is not my default but there it is, persistently present. THAT is what the issue is here. Google gets exactly the same treatment Microsoft got with regard to Internet Explorer and other software. And yes, Google was a key proponent in that anti - trust case.
  • Wait... what phone do you have that doesn't let you remove the Chrome shortcut? Or are you not using "persistent" correctly?
  • "And yes, Google was a key proponent in that anti - trust case." Maybe you can explain Google's involvement in the case. The case in the US was settled in 2001 and the case in the EU was settled in 2006. Both cases were dealing with IE. The Chrome browser was released in 2008. You are either mistaken or miss-informed.
  • The agreements these OEMs are going into with Google are literally so they're allowed to use the Play Store and its associated Play Services. If an OEM doesn't want the Play Store, they're free to do what Amazon is doing. So the Play Store is stupid for the EU to focus on. Search is also easily solved. Just include a generic search widget that the user needs to choose from the top search engines (or provide their own through giving its a regular expression). People can choose Google or download a Google branded search bar if they so desire. Chrome is another thing entirely. Apps in the Play Store rely on Chrome being there. You simply can't remove it. The most the EU can really claim is that it shouldn't need to be front and center on the homescreen. The homescreen in general... well, I think the EU has a point. Let the OEM put what they want on the homescreen. Force anything that's not required by the OS to operate to be uninstallable. Also, Google Drive kinda needs to be there too. Too many apps rely on it, plus that's where Android backs your stuff up. Does Google Photos need to be there though? No. Google Docs? No. For customers to receive updates, Google has to be able to enforce some standards for Android.
  • Let's call this what it is: a blatant cash grab. The EU doesn't need to understand how Android and Google services work...they are simply repeating what they did to MS decades ago. Their argument didn't make sense then and doesn't now but hey it worked the first time so of course they are going to try again.
  • Bugmen cry when governments take anti-trust seriously, and nail their favorite Corporate entity.
  • Can I ask if I'm understanding this correct. So say that in 2019 the next wave of Samsung Android phones don't have the Search, Chrome or the Play Store pre-installed and instead has Samsungs own browser, made up search and the Samsung Apps store....but the Google stuff is easily downloadable...would this be what the EU wants? I would image Play Store has to be installed because it's not a stand alone app, but maybe it's not just dropped on the home screen or whatever and if it is, Samsung Apps has to be beside it and people can move it later. I understnad this. Just because you want a Samsung phone, shouldn't mean you have to use Google Search or Chrome, and the Google Search bar shouldn't be locked into the home screen unless the user gets a custom launcher or something. It would make things a bit tougher, but that's life. If an OEM that want's all of Google's stuff like Moto or OnePlus, fine they opt in....but if Samsung or LG are trying to set up their own shop, they should be allowed to and if it makes things worse for the users, that's on them I suppose.
  • Has Apple been fined?
  • Does not apply to them because they are not forcing mfgs to follow their rules/policies. Apple builds there own phones so it's irreverent. This i why I say Google should just stop allowing mfgs to sell phones with Google Services and sell their own Pixel phones over there as then that would be no different then what Apple does. The rest of the world can have the freedom and EU would lose choice but still have Pixel Android phones.
  • Ahm, Jolla OS? Non spying operating system?
  • Only for tax avoidance in Ireland, but they should also have same curtsy as Google if you ask me. There is a bit different case between Apple and Google. Apple is not earning money by ads and it is not a search/marketing giant, but yes they should also start following rules. Google earn lot of money by selling data of the users or should I say spying. I just got yesterday message from Google to give my feedback to all the places that I have visited in past 6-12 months. For fck sake. If this is not spying, I don't know what is...
  • These mentally handicapped liberal Europeans deserve nothing good in their life. Nothing. Legislate yourself into oblivion and leave the rest of us alone you witless fools.
    Would you ever walk into McDonald's and say "It is not fair to all the lettuce producers that you only use one type of lettuce on your sandwiches. I am going to shut down McDonald's unless you start offering multiple lettuce choices for every sandwich. The consumers deserve choice!"
  • Perhaps you should stay on your side of the pond.... We don't need your corporate crooked companies. And yet more important, you don't own EU countries, so if you wanna earn your Dollars, start respecting the local law or GTFO!
  • Gladly. You couldn't pay me to do business there. The EU oversteps left and right into the private sector. Every time they choke a company, the company should just leave. Oh you have the "right to be forgotten?"
    Well I have the right to forget I ever offered you my products here. Byeeee.
  • There would be a lot of very very unhappy people if there was no Google or android in the EU. They should be gratefull it exists at all and stop trying to mess with it
  • Oh really Kenneth. You Yankees think you can break the law wherever your foot steps into. We have laws which needs to be respected,so if you wanna earn your Dollars, start following rules or GTFO! Just for your info, there is Jolla OS which is very good and becoming even better and it's Finnish product. There are lot of other Linux versions uprising, so we don't need your ****** spying tool on our continent!
  • You all need to learn the hard way, government should only be there to protect basic necessities of life. Water, food, shelter, education, sanitation, safety, and healthcare to an extent. They need blinders for everything else. Are the internet, smartphones, or software necessary to sustain breathing in a human for the duration of their life? Nope. It makes life easier, but no. So keep your jealous, bossy, oblivious, naive, and restless fingers out of it unless it is going to poison my food or water.
  • Google needs to take an axe to Android and gimp it nearly to death, move so much of it to Google Play Services that no apps work out of the box, that the only thing you can do is dial numbers, until you install everything Google, then it becomes a useful phone.
  • This will be appealed and quashed I'm sure. Google can rightly point out that OEMs have the choice to go with GAPPs if they want. Yes they do have to agree to install a number of apps to get the Playstore but as pointed out they are heavily integrated and it's pretty difficult to separate them. At the end of the day it's the OEMs choice and Google's lawyers need to heavily highligt this. So the clueless EU bureucrats understand. What I think Google will propose is what Microsoft did and that is when you setup your phone it offers you the choice of what browser you want to use and what search engine results you want to display. Also Google can plainly highlight to the user during the phones setup process that all default apps can be swapped out and maybe offer them choices of popular options.
  • I agree, this ruling is stupid and has no grounds. Google will prevail.
  • If they are so uptight about Google, what about Apple? At least Google let's you install apps that aren't in the Playstore. The iPhone has to be jailbroken in order to do the same thing. Also if you jailbreak your iPhone, you void the warranty
  • Hey RUSSELL HOLLY, I was wondering, how much money Google is paying you to write that article? I haven't saw the "most biased text for decades"... Bunch of crap. I have one good advice to tech companies such as Google on how not to get fined... Stop breaking the law assh***s!
  • You're speaking to nobody. Most of us here are from the land of the free so you wouldn't understand.
  • So, I imagine Apple doesn't have any of their apps installed?