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Google Decides Smartphone Market Share Is More Important Than Net Neutrality

from the dangerous-precedents dept

As a recent post noted, net neutrality is under threat in France, with ISPs like Free asking Google to pay extra for delivery of its traffic. According to this post on the Forbes Web site, Google has already agreed to pay the French telecoms company Orange in precisely this way. As well as damaging the whole principle of net neutrality, something that Google has been championing for many years, this would seem to be a pretty bad business decision. After all, if Orange is now getting paid to carry Google's traffic, why shouldn't every other telecom company out there also receive money for delivering Google's services?

It turns out that there are some very specific reasons why Google might have taken this surprising step, as Forbes explains:

Orange have implied their strong market position in Africa provided them sufficient leverage in the discussions with Google.

The African market is currently making the switch from feature phones with limited data access, to low-cost smartphones that provide far greater access to the internet and web services. Low-cost smartphones that are predominantly powered by Android. Google wants the emerging market to be running their OS so they can effectively monetize the continent. What they don't want is another platform becoming established, such as Nokia's low-cost Windows Phones or the upcoming Blackberry 10 devices.
This is really about the African market, then. As the analysis above notes, Google wants Android to become established there as successfully as it has elsewhere in the world. If it had refused to do a deal with Orange, which is apparently a major player in this region, there was a danger that Nokia or RIM could have taken advantage of the situation. Even though the payment is nominally about Net traffic, it's probably really about Google keeping a dominant telecom company sweet.

In most other parts of the world, Android is already established as the leading smartphone platform, so Google won't need to make similar deals. That doesn't mean that telecoms and ISPs won't demand them, but their bargaining position will generally be much weaker than Orange's. Google will probably be able to refuse without risking too much, secure in the knowledge that Internet users won't be best pleased with their ISPs if they can't access Gmail, or YouTube becomes unbearably laggy.

But even if the Orange deal is a special case, it's still bad news for the Internet. Google has clearly signaled that net neutrality is not sacrosanct, and that it is quite prepared to abandon it when necessary.

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Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 10:30am

    So we have two issues here.

    Google is so big that it's willing to play two measures, two weights and Orange is so big that it dominates the African markets.

    In any case, Google has abandoned the "be no evil" mantra for a while now and is more likely following the "be good to ourselves while not enraging the public". Shame, I thought they had a brilliant future. But eventually every company seems to end up like Microsoft/etc

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 10:30am

    Despite all this...

    I'm still less disappointed with Google than I am with the U.S. government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Atkray (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 10:56am

    Unintended consequence

    You realize that with this story our dear friend bob will finally be able to rant about Google and be on topic.

    Go bob GO!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 10:56am

    Wow - an entrenched telecom company with a monopoly pressures someone into paying for something they probably should not have to pay for.

    Considering how many people have a "cable, internet, phone" package it is really difficult to fault Google here.

     

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  5.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 10:59am

    Google

    The beginning of the end. Just wait until all the telecom leeches start demanding the same.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    crade (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 11:01am

    If they are worries about RIM and nokia's windows phones, google must be pretty damn hard up.

     

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  7.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 11:14am

    Re:

    Windows 8 is a piece of shit so far (I admit I only used the desktop version). It's so bad that I'm buying a notebook soon and I will downgrade it.

    So yeah, they should have thought better before accepting this 'deal'. They surely lost a lot of trust.

     

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  8.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 11:15am

    Re: Google

    This is what I was thinking. The US ISPs want to get rid of net neutrality, Google was a big opponent to that. How long until the US ISPs point to this and say "You're accepting it over there, why not here?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 11:22am

    Re: Google

    Google might only pay Orange for a long enough period to realize its "mistake" and then stop paying them. Expect this to happen, conveniently, after Android has a secure market share there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re: Google

    It will be too late. Comcast and Verizon will jump all over this. I can imagine the exec's are already foaming at the mouth.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 11:25am

    Everyone has a price.

    For everything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re:

    "Windows 8 is a piece of shit so far" - We had a Microsoft rep here at work and well about 5 of us ambushed him to tell him how lousy Windows 8 is, and how we wouldn't recommend it to anyone and how could they get rid of the start menu and how we spend time getting users to have a clean and organized desktop and how could they, after the community hacked it to get the start menu back, update it to remove what we did, and whew. I have not hated an OS so bad since windows ME. [End mini rant] Whew I feel better.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 11:44am

    Re: Re:

    "It's so bad that I'm buying a notebook soon and I will downgrade it."

    Ah, I see you won't be installing Linux then? ;)


    But seriously now, Windows 8 is pretty horrible...until you slap Classic Shell into it. Once you do, it's basically Win7 with a few added features. Microsoft ruined a perfectly good (by their standards) OS with a horrible UI.

    Fun fact: Microsoft engineers themselves had already discarded the idea of a "Metro-like" ui a long time ago when they were developing Win95. See here, particularly the section entitled "Separate UI for Beginners":

    http://www.sigchi.org/chi96/proceedings/desbrief/Sullivan/kds_txt.htm

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re: Google

    That is exactly right. As I have always said, Google does what is good for Google. The phony morals, scruples and integrity people ascribe to them is utter bullshit.

    Google is for net neutrality unless standing on that principle could cost them money. But if it could cost them...... then not so much.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Google

    I agree. This is a huge issue at the FCC and Google is the lobbying force and thought leader behind net neutrality. They'll be slaughtered by their own hypocrisy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Once you do, it's basically Win7 with a few added features.


    True, except many of those added features are what makes it suck. Using Classic Shell or similar utilities solves some of the most egregious problems, but leaves many. For example, it's difficult to avoid having to use the charms, or the metro UI, for many operations.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    ComputerAddict (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Google

    Google is pretty good at this game... Just like in European countries where it has to blur faces in street view, but won't cave to privacy activists here...

    Or Censoring search results in China, but not the US...

    I would be surprised if Comcast or Verizon got anywhere with a "But you do it in a third world country" argument...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Everyone has a price.

    But that price isn't always money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm actually liking the Windows 8 tablet for systems administration. Probably should have waited around for Pro instead of RT, though, to make working on non-windows systems easier.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "It's so bad that I'm buying a notebook soon and I will downgrade it."

    Ah, I see you won't be installing Linux then? ;)

    He said downgrade, not render unusuable. ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 12:36pm

    nothing more important than money! the service is down the list with the customer at the bottom. the 'Google championing net neutrality' bit is right out the window now. strange how important the phone thing is now, considering the disaster surrounding the Nexus 4 availability and how LG managed to make extortionate profits from their stuff but couldn't find time to produce and supply the Google phone. mind you, i heard the Nexus 5 is gonna be released later this year. i hope it's more readily available and supply can keep up with demand this time

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Keep it on topic folks. We're trashing Windows 8 here, not any other operating systems.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    saulgoode (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re: Google

    Actually, Google has shown a willingness to kick net neutrality to the curb for wireless.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 1:40pm

    The nature of corporate ownership

    When push comes to shove for a publicly traded company, what's best for the company is going to dictate what the company does and stands for.

    That's why I think there are far bigger issues than what the big tech industry wants. If you want significant changes, I think you'll need to look at campaign financing, how we view ownership, and whether the goal of business in general should be to grow big, or whether it might actually be better to support companies that stay small and even self-destruct once they reach certain goals and/or outgrow a certain size.

    If you believe disruption is a good aspect of technological advancement, then you need to look ahead to what will disrupt the big corporate players of the present.

    While some folks believe it is wrong to advocate income redistribution among individuals and companies, if you have certain societal goals that encourage the decentralization of wealth/power, then it is a perfectly legitimate societal goal to look for ways to discourage/prevent concentration of wealth. And this can extend to global politics. Is it in the best interests of the world to have a few superpowers? It can be, if it results in a level of stability. But, on the other hand, there can be arguments against allowing a few empires dominating the world.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    KJ (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 2:11pm

    Not sure about this article

    I'm not so sure this has much to do with net neutrality at all. A, few sites are reporting on the Google-Orange deal as a regular peering agreement, where Google pays for a direct connection to the Orange networks. Unless the contract says anything about QOS for Google traffic, this isn't really anything about net neut.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 3:40pm

    Re: Unintended consequence

    Mighty morphing bob rangers

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    Allen (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 5:23pm

    Re: Not sure about this article

    Exactly. If true Google's need for something on Orange's network must have exceeded Orange's need for Google.

    Kind of hard to believe though. I could easily believe that Google have purchased transmission and/or colo off of Orange and Orange's CEO doesn't understand the difference.

    We probably wont hear the truth though, every Google agreement I have seen was big on non disclosure. I suspect a few words have been exchanged on that matter...

    In any case I see evidence this has anything to do with net neutrality .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Corwin (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 5:51pm

    This is ridiculous

    It's not like Africa is going to pony up for iPhones, so what are they gonna do, try to sell Android while censoring/throttling Google? That's just not going to happen.

    Google has a very strong business case to tell them to forget it, in this case. The French might get somewhat swayed to iPhones if all their ISPs would begin throttling Google, but in Africa that's just not going to happen. And Android is pretty useless without Google, as there are services with hardcoded addresses in there. That would mean non-functioning apps, and even no Play Store. ISPs might get their own stores, but who would do you trust more, african ISPs, or Google? As far as app QA goes?

    I'm wondering if the ISPs would really be so stupid as to half-brick all the smartphone market, leaving all the wireless connectivity money on the table.

    This is begging for disruption so much, someone is bound to notice the piles of money that stupidity leaves on the table.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jan 31st, 2013 @ 3:55am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'd think that for a touch screen environment it must not be that bad. But to work with a mouse it simply sucks. Still, I thought Motorola had a bad UI...

    The fact that you are FORCED into that ugly metro thing is what annoys me the most.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jan 31st, 2013 @ 4:02am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Linux would be a huge upgrade. I want to use Linux. But I'm locked into Windows because a lot of stuff I run is for Windows and does not have a Linux version. Sure you got Wine but it's not perfect (no emulation is really perfect).

    I'm usually an early adopter (via piracy means). But this is not worth it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    William Chambers, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 5:29am

    Re:

    It really is difficult to fault Google, but since the Google haters have so little ammo, they have to dig to the bottom of the barrel.

    Seems to me the headline should be "Poor country ruled by single major telecom, forces others to play ball."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Tesa, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:54am

    I would avoid buying Google's smart phones mainly because they are not supporting their products given my experience. Try smartphone suppliers with with brick offices as well as retailers.

    When I purchased Google's Nexus 7 tablet from the Canadian Google, I had no idea that they had non-existent service. They basically have no phone number, no customer service specially in Canada as though they are not to abide by consumer protection laws in other countries although they have registered in Canada. I believe that they only way a human being working for Google can be reached by phone in Canada is through the courts.

    Their head office in Canada does not pick up their phones at all. Their American branch which has produced this tablets as a Google product refuses to even accept it as their product so I would guess that they would not accept the smart phones to be their product if they are found to be defective and they would exclude the defective parts from warranty.

    I would avoid buying any product that may need support from Google in the role of both supplier and retailer. What I have also learned before buying any gadget, don't just look at the specs and retail price, call the manufacturer to find out whether they have service center for that item within driving distance OR I would make sure that you get extended warranties that have no exemptions accounted for in the cost which will would escalate the cost.

    Most over-priced expensive phone service suppliers would obviously support these products with defects but those that buy their own phones, watch out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Tesa, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:55am

    I would avoid buying Google's smart phones mainly because they are not supporting their products given my experience. Try smartphone suppliers with with brick and mortar offices as well as retailers.

    When I purchased Google's Nexus 7 tablet from the Canadian Google, I had no idea that they had non-existent service. They basically have no phone number, no customer service specially in Canada as though they are not to abide by consumer protection laws in other countries although they have registered in Canada. I believe that they only way a human being working for Google can be reached by phone in Canada is through the courts.

    Their head office in Canada does not pick up their phones at all. Their American branch which has produced this tablets as a Google product refuses to even accept it as their product so I would guess that they would not accept the smart phones to be their product if they are found to be defective and they would exclude the defective parts from warranty.

    I would avoid buying any product that may need support from Google in the role of both supplier and retailer. What I have also learned before buying any gadget, don't just look at the specs and retail price, call the manufacturer to find out whether they have service center for that item within driving distance OR I would make sure that you get extended warranties that have no exemptions accounted for in the cost which will would escalate the cost.

    Most over-priced expensive phone service suppliers would obviously support these products with defects but those that buy their own phones, watch out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Typical ETA, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 1:41am

    Typical ETA regarding Extra Units two-three Days to weeks Product or service Datasheet Download Toslink Dietary fibre Optic wires offer primary high quality, interference free digital sound recording alerts made for any kind of house theatre create with the optical feedback. Can handle Dolby Digital 5. 1 are around appear as well as DTS Connector: Toslink Man with every single stop Coat: PVC Coloring: Dark RoHS Compliant Uncomplicated grip fittings Strain relief moulding Manufacturer's warranty: 12 months

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Ben Davis, Dec 9th, 2013 @ 2:05am

    The buzz does the work.

    That is a great move by Google, emerging markets on which Android has a hold most of the people their don't think of checking out other options available, the buzz does the work.

    If we talk about other mobile OS in entry level phones than Windows phones are awesome, they just got late in the market and thus struggling with a share of 3.2% only worldwide, but they their user base is increasing slowly.

    To be very true Google is making nice move in African market, once they create buzz in the market there, rest of the job will be done with the oral marketing.


    Ben Davis
    KiwiTech

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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