Failures

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
android, antitrust, competition, consumer benefit, eu

Companies:
google



EU 'Protecting Consumers' By Forcing Them To Pay More For Android?

from the how's-that-work? dept

This was widely predicted this summer in the wake of the EU's massive $5 billion antitrust fine on Google concerning its practices with Android. As we noted at the time, the EU's antitrust focus seems to be much more directed at harming US companies rather than protecting EU consumers. Indeed, it is leading to situations where the antitrust efforts seem to be harming EU consumers, rather than helping them.

The latest is that Google is no longer offering its app suite for free in Europe.

Google’s licensing terms are changing in Europe later this month on account of a European Commission ruling that barred the company from requiring phone manufacturers to bundle Chrome and search with the rest of its suite of apps. In public statements, Google has been cagey about exactly how the new licensing fees will be structured, but documents reveal the deal with EU manufacturers will be rated by country and pixel density.

EU countries are divided into three tiers, with the highest fees coming in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands. In those countries, a device with a pixel density higher than 500 ppi would have to pay a $40 fee to license Google’s suite of apps, according to pricing documents. 400 to 500ppi devices would pay a $20 fee, while devices under 400 ppi would pay only $10. In some countries, for lower-end phones, the fee can be as little as $2.50 per device.

What is not at all clear is how this helps... anyone (well, other than the EU Commission who wants its $5 billion). At best, I guess you can argue that this "opens up" some sort of market for third party apps -- though those are already available to users to download and install pretty easily.

While I recognize that -- as many Europeans are quick to tell me -- EU regulations are much less focused on consumer welfare as a metric (and much more focused on beating up on big companies), I'm curious as to how this makes for good public policy. It provides a more expensive and less useful consumer experience while doing little to encourage any actual competition. Why is that a good thing?


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 4:04am

    The commission doesn't give a damn

    about good public policy. They demonstrate this time and time again, e.g. when negotiating trade agreements behind closed doors, holding back studies that don't give the results they want, starting huge PR campaigns to further their goals instead of listing to the wishes of the public, etc. They are the EU institution for neoliberal ideals, i.e. its purest form, never adhering to public ideals, being just a front for special interests. They have no place in the democracy that the EU is supposed to be. My favorite place for them would be a pillory.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 4:14am

    And that can circumvented by using a VPN to make it look you are outside of Europe, so you can still download for free.

    And this does not break any laws in either the US, or any EU country.

    Circumventing region restrictions with a VPN or proxy does not break any US or EU laws.

    When I go on road trips to Mexico, or Canada, I have my phone connect to the VPN on my home work, so I can still get IHeart. Using my home VPN to bypass region restrictions and make it look like I am coming from home computer, to get iHeart, Pandora, or the US Netflix library does not break any US, Canadian, or Mexican laws.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 4:27am

      Re:

      This has nothing to do with your downloads. It's about the phone vendors wishing to preinstall Google apps. They could do it for free, but now have to pay license fees.

      For you, I guess nothing should change (maybe the price for the phone will rise). If you install a custom ROM, Open GApps will still provide Google Apps for you. I'd expect no license fee.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 4:29am

      Re:

      >And that can circumvented by using a VPN to make it look you are outside of Europe,

      How does that help you dodge the 40+$ added to the price of your phone by its manufacturer for the use of Google Apps?

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

    • icon
      ShadowNinja (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 6:35am

      Re:

      Are you sure about that not violating any laws?

      Anti-circumvention of DRM is definitely illegal in the US, and I'd guess may be in Europe to.

      And then there's the EULA/TOS for Android. Circumventing the fees to get stuff for free (and thus violating the EULA/TOS) would probably make it illegal in the US under CFAA because of how broadly it's written.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 7:02am

        Re: Re:

        When I take road trips to Mexico, and sign on to my home VPN, so that I can listen to iHeart or Pandora, while down there, does not violate either US, or Mexican laws.

        Since I am logging into my own home network, which I own, and pay the Internet subscription for, I am in vioaltion any laws, either in the USA, or Mexico, by having my phone sign on to me, so I can get iHeart, Pandora, or any US-only while I am down there.

        I like to listen to SiriusXM. Having my phone sign on my VPN while I am down there, so I an get SirusXM, or from my laptop, to access the US Netflix library does not break any law in either the United States, or Mexico

        It is not a crime, either in Mexico, or the United Staets, to remotely log to my home network, on the Internet connection that I pay for, to get the likes of Pandora, Hulu, iHeart, of the US Netflix libary, while I am down in Mexico.

        Desguising my IP address to make it look like I am coming from my home computer, does break either Mexican or American alws.

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      • identicon
        higuita, 26 Oct 2018 @ 7:08am

        Re: Re:

        Europe DRM is way more relaxed, you can break it in many normal operations.

        Example, in Portugal you can break the DRM to make copies (backups) of your content (videos, games, whatever)... If you try to distribute or even worse, sell it, you are f*cked, but for your own use, it is perfectly legal

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 7:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The DMCA is that way too. That is why there is finacial gain requirement for felony prosecution.

          As long as you are you not doing it for financial gain, it is not a felony crime.

          For example, back when music was only sold with DRM on it, recording the tracks onto cassette tapes to play in the car, when cars sill had tape players, did not violate DMCA becuase it was doing it my for my personal use and not doing for financial gain.

          Plugging a tape recorder into the back of my computer, and recording the tracks onto a cassette tape was not a criminal offence because I was not doing it for financial gain.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 7:39am

        Re: Re:

        Circumvention of DRM in the US only a felony if you do it for some kind of financial gain.

        Just like before Puretracks, 10 years ago, finally changed their credit card processing system to only allow Canadian cards to be used, I could use a proxy server to bypass the region restrictions to legally purchase tracks at bargain basement prices when the Canadian was very weak againt the US dollar.

        When I ran my online radio station, I did that to purchase tracks for about 40 cents, in US currency.

        When I did that, that was not a felony because I was not doing it for any kind of financial gain. There is now in the US against saving money. Paying about 40 cents per tracks, compared to $1 from US sites, like Rhapsody or Napster, made good financial sense. Saving money is not a crime in America.

        And since I was not using any illegally obtained passwords, I would not violating the CFAA in any way when I did that.

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        • icon
          The Wanderer (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 6:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Are you sure?

          If you don't bypass the restrictions, and pay full price, you have a certain amount of money left afterwards.

          If you do bypass the restrictions, and pay a lower price, you have a larger amount of money left afterwards.

          I'm fairly sure that there is existing precedent which would hold that that difference in how much money you have left qualifies as "financial gain", and that therefore bypassing restrictions in order to be able to pay the lower price qualifies as doing so for financial gain.

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      • icon
        Thad (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 10:17am

        Re: Re:

        Anti-circumvention of DRM is definitely illegal in the US, and I'd guess may be in Europe to.

        No DRM is being circumvented here. And, as a previous poster noted, no VPN is required. This ruling merely requires Google to charge vendors a fee to preinstall Google Apps on their phones; it does not restrict users from installing them manually -- though the process is strictly for power users.

        And then there's the EULA/TOS for Android.

        You're on the right track, though I'll nitpick one thing: different components of Android come under different licenses. We're talking, specifically, about the licenses for Google Apps and Google Services.

        Circumventing the fees to get stuff for free (and thus violating the EULA/TOS) would probably make it illegal in the US under CFAA because of how broadly it's written.

        I think that's probably true. The licenses on Google Apps and Google Services prohibit installing them on devices that they didn't come preinstalled on.

        So far Google has enforced those terms against device vendors and makers of custom ROMs (Cyanogenmod used to include Google Apps until Google sent a C&D), but not against Open GApps, the project that power users typically use to install Google Apps on custom firmware. Google probably could shut down Open GApps if it wanted to, but I don't think it's likely that it'll do so. (After all, Google wants people using its services, it just doesn't want third-party versions of Android to bundle them without permission.)

        Whether the EU would try to do anything to block or shut down Open GApps, or try to require Google to do so? I really have no idea.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 11:17am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Circumventing geo fencing, using a VPN or proxy is not violation of the CFAA, becuase you you are not using an illegaly obtained password.

          So, those you of you, like me, who liked to VPN to listen, to, say, Capital Gold, in London, using a VPN to bypass their block on listeners outside of the UK, are not breaking US or UK laws. It it not illegal in either the US or UK to bypass geographic restrictions.

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          • icon
            Thad (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 12:15pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Circumventing geo fencing, using a VPN or proxy is not violation of the CFAA, becuase you you are not using an illegaly obtained password.

            There's no "illegally obtained password" requirement in the CFAA; it broadly prohibits "unauthorized access". While I'm not aware of any cases testing whether using a VPN to circumvent geoblocking qualifies as "unauthorized access", I could see the courts going either way.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 1:12pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              However, when I got Mexico and log in to my home network, to be able to access,say, iHeart, and hide the fact that I am in Mexico, I am not breaking laws or committing any kind of unauthorized access.

              Acessing my own network cannot be considered "unauthorized access". Therefore, when I am in Mexico, and I sign on to the VPN on my home network, to get iHeart, or whatever, while I am down there, I am not breaking any law in either the United States or Mexico.

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              • icon
                The Wanderer (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 7:11am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I'm not so sure. Yes, accessing your own network cannot be considered "unauthorized access" - but accessing the iHeart (or other streaming provider) service from outside of the authorized geographic region, whether via your own network or via any other means, might be.

                See if this logic holds together.

                • In order to access the streaming service, you connect to a computer system outside of your network, run by the service's provider.

                • Accessing that computer system without authorization would be a CFAA violation.

                • That service itself, by the terms of the license under which it is permitted to distribute its content, is only authorized to provide that content to destinations within a certain geographic region.

                • Therefore, that service prohibits access to its computer system from outside of that region.

                • Therefore, access to that system from that region is not authorized.

                • Therefore, by bypassing the restrictions which prevent access to that service from outside of that region, you are accessing that computer system without authorization.

                • Therefore, by that same action, you are violating the CFAA.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 2:18pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              If the VPN, itself, is not in the United States, it is not subject to US laws.

              So, if, say, somoene in Europe, uses VPN in Australia, to circumvent geoblocking on a site in the United States, the VPN operators are not subject to US jurisdiction.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 5:58pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Unauthorized access only applies if you an use any kind of illegally obtained password.

              In order for it to be illegal, you have to hack your way into the system, and circumventing geo blocking is not hacking.

              That is why, under the CFAA, it is not illegal to use open Wifi to access the internet, but some state laws may say otherwise. Since you don't have to hacking to use it, it does not break the CFAA, but does some state laws.

              That is why when I travel outside of California, which also requires that you have used an illegally obtained password for it to be unauthorized access, but some state laws are different, I use a an offshore VPN

              That is why whenever I travel outside of California, I use a VPN when using any open Wifi anywhere, so that I uknowingly break local state law, nothing will be traceable to me. The router logs will only say that I went to an offshore VPN somewhere. Where I went beyond the VPN would never be known.

              A VPN provider outside the United States is not subject to American laws, so no US court can make them cough up any logs, if they have them.

              They only thing that sucks about that is not being able to use iHeart, Hulu, or other US only services, or not being able to access the US Netflix library, but instead get, say, the Canadian Netflix library, which is not as broad as the US one.

              I can well understand why everyone wants to use a VPN or proxy with a US address to get the US Netflix libary. It is far more extensive. Netflix for other countries, sucks by comparison.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 4:56am

    My guess

    Is that the EU is hoping that the extra fee would at least make the phone vendors think twice about pre-installing the Google apps. And when nothing is pre-installed, the competition is in theory more open and the playing field more level. And thus the consumer is better off...

    Not sure if this is going to work, but I have a kind of deja-vu with how Internet Explorer had to be unbundled from Windows and the browser-choice had to be made by the customer.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 5:07am

    The browser choice rule for windows made no difference to consumers ,
    people could install firefox or chrome anyway.In theory someone might make a phone with stock android
    so the consumer has a choice of using an os thats not
    monitored by google in any way.
    i can already install apps on my android phone by downloading an apk file without going thru the google play store .

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  • icon
    TimK (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 5:07am

    Meh.
    First of all, the manufactures will negotiate that price with Google down to nothing. It is basically a Google Apps MSRP. So NOBODY will have to pay more for their phone.
    Secondly, I read somewhere that Google does referral deals on search, so any manufacturer who wants the "payola style" kickback on search revenue will "pay" google to install the apps and include chrome and search.
    The end result is nothing more than a few extra contract terms between Google and Samsung/LG/Huawei etc.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 6:22am

      Re:

      I think you are correct in describing 'business as usual' dealings. This situation is not normal though, do you really think Google is not going recoup their 5 billion loss?

      What gets me though is the nearsightedness of the body that created the fine. Just as with any other fine, or tax, it is the consumer that pays it, not the manufacturer. I would be highly pissed if I now had to pay 40 more for a phone because the EU commission wanted to punish me.

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      • identicon
        Michael, 26 Oct 2018 @ 8:04am

        Re: Re:

        This is really just going to hurt EU telecom companies. They are going to have to pay the licensing fee and will pass it along to the consumer. Any consumer buying a worldwide unlocked GSM phone from Amazon or EBay will get one with the Google apps bundled and not have the additional licensing fee.

        The most likely scenario here is that they will drive sales of devices to US and Chinese sales channels and hurt their own telecom sector.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 9:23am

      Re:

      "First of all, the manufactures will negotiate that price with Google down to nothing"

      Larger manufacturers, yes. If you're depending on volume negotiations, you're by definition handing the power further to the established larger players and making it more difficult for newcomers to enter the market.

      "any manufacturer who wants the "payola style" "

      There was a reason why payola is notorious and why it is illegal.

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    • identicon
      Azrael, 27 Oct 2018 @ 1:14am

      Re:

      With one huge difference- those apps will now be removable if they come preinstalled.
      Especially since in some phones you aren't even allowed to disable them and they keep spying on you even if you don't use them.

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

  • identicon
    David, 26 Oct 2018 @ 5:12am

    How is that different from zero rating?

    I mean, everybody cheers for net neutrality, and net neutrality forbids zero-rating. Zero-rating would give the ISP the ability to play favorites, for example by electing to zero rate large companies for which making arrangements putting up local mirrors delivering encrypted content makes sense.

    So Android phone sellers aren't allowed to zero-rate Google services which are very readily available.

    That's bad, but stopping ISPs from zero-rating (which provides actual cost savings that can be passed onto the consumer) is good?

    What is the difference I am missing here?

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    • identicon
      Rocky, 26 Oct 2018 @ 5:48am

      Re: How is that different from zero rating?

      The difference is that if you choose a internet service that's not zero-rated it may count to your cap or it may be throttled but with pre-installed apps you still have the choice to install something else without being "penalized" in some way.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 5:53am

      Re: How is that different from zero rating?

      Other than 'well I already have this app to do X, why would I bother with another one?', which is trivial to get around(simply go and get another app), what cost is Google imposing on other companies by being able to offer their stuff for free/preloaded?

      Zero-rating when it comes to ISP's has a very real impact on competition, as there is an actual penalty/incentive system in place, where zero rated content has a significant boost because it doesn't count against your cap, making you more likely to use it.

      'Zero-rating' when it comes to google apps though... not so much, as I imagine it's not that difficult to simply go find and install a replacement, with no real penalty/incentive system beyond some minor work involved.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 6:43am

      Re: How is that different from zero rating?

      "What is the difference I am missing here?"

      Perhaps an understanding of what zero rating is and how, not if, it will be abused.



      .. which provides profit increases that will be passed out as bonus and dividend - ftfy

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    • icon
      Thad (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 10:22am

      Re: How is that different from zero rating?

      How is that different from zero rating?

      Entirely?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 5:19am

    It's a good thing

    because we start seeing price tags for our search history and other data.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 5:38am

    the whole aim is, yet again, to punish Google for being as successful as it is. sometimes Google needs reining in, it gets too big for it's boots, in my opinion, and certainly thinks more about revenue than customers privacy, security and opinions. this is demonstrated by the recent ignoring of customers after changes made to gmail, for example! i'm not sure if the EU simply wants google to stop being available there or what. what does seem to be a definite desire is for the entertainment industries to take complete control of the Internet in all those countries and i cant help but wonder who has been paid what to get to that point. can you imagine a Planet governed by, ruled by and dictated by an industry that relies on nothing but 'make believe'? we are very close to that situation now with every body that can do something to help achieve it, doing it!

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 5:44am

    Misleading article

    This article seems a bit misleading. The licensing fee is only if the OEMs don't want to pre-install Chrome or Google search on the phone. Currently the only option available is the "free" one with the pre-installation requirements. So this is less a "forcing them to pay more" and more providing them the option of paying more. This seems like a giant nothing burger.

    A better take on the same news would be to discuss the value of end user's privacy. Google thinks it's about $40 for the life of a device. I might be tempted to pay that to get more privacy if it was an option.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      K Lepto Connamie, 26 Oct 2018 @ 6:28am

      Re: Misleading article

      This article seems a bit misleading.

      You're new here. ALL Techdirt articles are misleading, particularly about GOOGLE.

      Here's why (this is Masnick's "Copia" site which is linked on every Techdirt page):

      https://copia.is/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/sponsors.png

      And since concerned about privacy, I advise you not stick around for rest of his corporatist pro-surveillance capitalism propaganda.

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 10:20am

      Re: Misleading article

      This article seems a bit misleading. The licensing fee is only if the OEMs don't want to pre-install Chrome or Google search on the phone.

      I think you're the one who's been misled. The fee is for OEMs that do want to preinstall Google Apps on the phone. (How does charging a fee to not include apps make any sense?)

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      • icon
        The Wanderer (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 7:19am

        Re: Re: Misleading article

        It could make sense as an anti-competitive tactic, a way to push one's own services (from which one gets other benefits) over those of competitors, by leveraging the market power of the underlying platform.

        IIRC, Microsoft did something vaguely like that back in the day, although the parallels I'm being able to recall aren't exact.

        That's not an approach Google seems to have actually taken, however. All they've done (historically) is to make the products in question available for free (and present by default), which - while it may constitute a considerably lesser form of the same leveraging of existing market presence - is by far a less severe degree of inappropriate pressure.

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    K Lepto Connamie, 26 Oct 2018 @ 6:20am

    Google strong-armed to force bundle now retaliates

    to punish consumers without any actual need to, and so Masnick blames the EU.

    The cause of both problems is clear to me, but in order to evade the obvious a person "sponsored" by Google declares himself not just blind but actively stupid.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 6:54am

      Re: Google strong-armed to force bundle now retaliates

      "The cause of both problems is clear to me"
      - Well, thank god for that. Phew - I was getting a bit worried there.


      "in order to evade the obvious"
      - Something you seem to be good at.


      "not just blind but actively stupid"
      - What? ...... So, you think that being blind makes one stupid - that is simply wrong and you know it.

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

  • identicon
    Matthew A. Sawtell, 26 Oct 2018 @ 6:44am

    Cui Bono? The powers to be in Brussels and them alone...

    ... much like Google working with the powers to be in Beijing for Project Dragonfly.

    Once again, we get to see that folks in Silicon Valley are not "Too Big Too Fail" as some have publicly thought.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 6:57am

      Re: Cui Bono? The powers to be in Brussels and them alone...

      I think we all know who the "too big to jail" crowd is, they are not found on only one coast as they seem to roam around rather freely.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 6:56am

    The EU does not care about "consumer protection". All of this is just Kabuki theater where consumer protection is being used as a pretense to be able to go after non EU companies in general, the IT ones in particular.

    Why are they doing this you might ask and the answer is simple: jealousy. The EU and the so called European "IT industry" is jealous of the success of non EU tech companies, particularly US companies. So what they do is they try to make the EU a place as hostile as possible for non EU IT companies in the vain hope that this would make European IT companies competitive and somehow magically create worthy competitors for US services.

    Here is the reality check, there is no relevant European IT industry. The IT products made here are years too late and a few generations of features too short. The products are typical paint by number designed by committee "me too" products that already have better alternatives for cheaper on the market for years. Depriving the EU of access to the better alternatives will not make the European garbage more competitive it will merely highlight how far behind they actually are. It doesn't help either that any legislation passed to fend off non EU companies will have the same detrimental effect on any theoretical EU alternatives.

    The biggest Irony is that all these destructive actions being taken at the same time as most EU politicians are waxing poetically about the importance of modern technology, while their own actions are dooming the EU to another dark age.

    Praise the heavens for VPN. for now....

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 9:34am

      Re:

      They might outlaw commercial VPN servics, but having your own private VPN cannot be outlawed, becuase it would interfere with business travellers that need to access company network back home.

      That being said, with the EU copyright, if YouTube should complately block EU users, and I don't see any other choice for YouTube, you can use own home network, if you are holiday in Europe, if you want to upload vacation videos.

      Some people might say otherwise, but connecting your own home network, to bypass region restrictions, where you are, would not break EU or US laws. So using your own VPN back home on your home comptuer, to access YouTube, while travelling in Europe, would not break either US or EU laws.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 7:20am

    The smell of regulation

    It keeps going and going and going and going!

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  • identicon
    higuita, 26 Oct 2018 @ 7:25am

    It allows other alternatives to grow

    Right now alternative stores have a very hard time to compete with google, google one is free, included and have everything.

    If the builders and operators have to pay for google store, the existent alternatives with cheaper prices may grow. Aptoide store, one of the biggest store alternatives may finally be included in lower end devices to save costs... with more people using it, they get more sells and can grow. Sellers that do not know it may finally start to upload their content to those stores. This is the chicken and egg all over again and the simply fact that google store is not free may trigger this...

    Of course many may still not care and push the cost to the end user, but in a saturated market , removing 40€ on cheap phones may be a good way to increase sales

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  • identicon
    quercus, 26 Oct 2018 @ 8:35am

    Isn't this 'pay more' thing just a Google PR Stunt (that seems to be succeeding)?
    Correct me if I'm missing something, but if the EU can tell Google that it is illegally anti-competitive to require manufacturers to install Google apps as a condition of using Android, then wouldn't the EU also be able to tell Google that it is illegally anti-competitive to require manufacturers to install Google apps as a condition of using Android for free?

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

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 9:57am

    What is not at all clear is how this helps... anyone (well, other than the EU Commission who wants its $5 billion). At best, I guess you can argue that this "opens up" some sort of market for third party apps -- though those are already available to users to download and install pretty easily.

    It's not just about alternatives to the Google Play Store, it's about alternatives to Google Services -- which are sorely needed.

    Whether this is going to result in creating those alternatives -- well, I'm pretty skeptical. But I guess we'll see.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 12:05pm

    EU manufacturers? Someone in the EU still makes phones?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 12:10pm

    I live in a small country in Europe and we are part of the EU. As a small country, I do believe that we need this cooperation in trade and various other things in order to be successful.
    However in the last few years even people such as I, have become very dissatisfied with the multitude of bad laws they have made and elitism they have shown. Frankly it has become much harder to defend. It is so damned frustrating.
    I do think that it screams a bit of "we want money because you are successful" with the way they have handled this too.
    That said, I don't think it would be bad with some kind of demand that these companies stop with the forced apps... how about just giving us the possibility to uninstall all that crap... not just disable, but completely remove.
    One of the selling points that Samsung and Google used a couple of years back was that -now- they phones were lightweight with only a couple of apps preinstalled and forced... Since then they have just added more and more and I now have 18.

    I am not saying that this ruling or behavior by the EU is okay, but I would like a bit of choice without having to root my phone and even a way to manually remove this crap would be fine for me.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 12:28pm

    Any one know BASIC marketing??

    Lets see...
    2 companies control the "portable computer" market..
    Which one is MORE proprietary??
    Then you hit the Other one, that has thousands of options and choices with a LARGE BILL..
    They also have over 70% of the market. Of every phone in your Nations..

    what could a Corp do..If they Controlled 70% of the Cellphone market.. That even the Old cellphones cant work on the cellphone system anymore..
    do what they were told..and then Charge..for the BUILT IN PROGRAMMING that comes with their OWN system.

    Hmmm...sounds familiar..MICROSOFT..

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 1:51pm

    bigger issue

    maybe you should read the ruling before you take google's word for it and start moaning about the big bad EU. the problem isnt a couple of preinstalled apps, the problem is how google uses playservices as leverage in general

    because while you can simply download alternatives to the preinstalls, it's not so simple to replace the OS functions google has moved into its proprietary playservices. if you want to use those functions you have to play by google's rules. and those rules go beyond preinstalling what they tell you to, you're also barred from EVER selling a device running a google-free android fork. if you sell a single device that doesnt comply, google blocks you from including playservices on ALL future devices

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 26 Oct 2018 @ 1:56pm

    Google was the one actually trying to provide for consumers what they had demonstrated time and again as they wanted from Google and phone providers. The EC/EU only wanted more money--not really caring so much from where (though, the richer the company the more likely it being a target--esp. if it's not in the EU).

    You could say that, before, Google was "taking the hit" for any supposed cost of providing its apps (and Android for that matter). But then the EC/EU convinced it that it had to stop doing that--for the sake of "the little guys" (aka those providing things few people wanted to use and thus weren't very competitive). Now, Google won't provide its apps for free and they won't share any profits with the phone providers. Woo-hoo! Way to go EC/EU! (I think you've just made some more money for Google... maybe even more than $5 billion.)

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 3:00pm

      Re:

      But then the EC/EU convinced it that it had to stop doing that--for the sake of "the little guys" (aka those providing things few people wanted to use and thus weren't very competitive).

      As the anon above pointed out, any company that sold a device that included Google Apps was contractually prohibited from selling any Android devices that didn't include them. I think that's a pretty nasty bit of anticompetitive behavior and deserved to be shot down.

      That doesn't mean I necessarily agree with the $40 Google Tax. But the reason there aren't any viable competitors to Google Apps/Google Services (at least, not outside of China) is that Google made it virtually impossible for such a market to develop.

      Amazon is the only vendor that's managed to have any luck selling a de-Googled Android -- and most companies don't have the resources that Amazon does.

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

      • icon
        ECA (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 6:42pm

        Re: Re:

        Funny..
        But lets have the choices of WHAT can be installed as an OS, on a cellphone..

        MS, Google, Apple, and I know of 2-3 others that TRIED AND DIED...blackberry, being 1 of them..

        So Why cant they? BECAUSE everyone of them USED different hardware..Mostly. and you couldnt run it on the Android hardware..
        So how many of these corps have ANY TYPE of Shareable hardware that Any OS can be installed...
        NONE..NONE NONE AND NONE..

        Then lets look at another corp, that has an OS for desktops .. What name/names come to mind?? SAY IT
        Microsoft...and there ARE OTHERS..but MS installs things that you CAN NOT REMOVE..and MS is designed that 99% of the time you can NOT used other drivers...(I think Ms is jumping to Linux formats)(and Console, Phone, desktops will have all the same interface and drivers)
        BUT right now...MS is worse then google.

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

        • identicon
          Azrael, 27 Oct 2018 @ 1:44am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You should stop being a raging moron and educate yourself - nowadays all manufacturers share the same basic hardware in desktop and phone environments: IA-64 for desktops and ARM for phones. Porting all the OS's between them would be a child's job.
          Hell, iOS has already been installed on countless generic Intel motherboards.
          BTW, the drivers are purposefully designed to work on a specific version of Windows not only because they call for a specific versions of kernels but because they need specific callbacks or commands that aren't available in older versions, so you can't make that comparison.
          And MS jumping to Linux? I really want what you're smoking.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2018 @ 2:09am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            >And MS jumping to Linux?

            Well, there is WSL, and they have just joined the OIN, so not jumping, but they have declared peace.

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

          • icon
            ECA (profile), 28 Oct 2018 @ 12:07pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_mobile_operating_systems

            Porting is fine, but Who will make it, and make the utilities, and programs and GAMES???
            Arm was designed to easily fit any ARM BASED CHIP.. but where are your programs..IOS?? lets ask apple what they do for that..or are you going to wait for someone to remove the Protections??

            Drivers?? Thats not much, as you can make the CORE do the work..its similar to being a LARGE emulator..
            Thats why Win8 is there and messed up..Thats way there are 2 interfaces in Win 10..and why your DESKTOP has touch screen programming..AND even an Xbox interface program..

            Az,
            Iv been watching this stuff for years. And if MS could make a Program to work on all 3, from one program language...they would/will do it.
            But the easiest way is to goto Linux..AS APPLE DID, and then they Closed their environment..

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2018 @ 5:57am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              But the easiest way is to goto Linux..AS APPLE DID

              Apple is based off of BSD, and not Linux. The BSD licenses allows source to be taken proprietary, while the GPL does not.

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

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 26 Oct 2018 @ 2:59pm

    There Is Plenty Of Potential Competition For Android

    So far, few of them have had a chance. Maybe this will even the playing field a bit?

    And won’t that be a good thing?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2018 @ 4:59pm

    What Google was doing was genuinely anti-competitive. I'm glad that the European Commission stood up for consumers and competition. Hopefully more players will be showing up soon.

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

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 26 Oct 2018 @ 9:19pm

    Budget potholes

    EU 'Protecting Consumers' By Forcing Them To Pay More For Android?

    Well, yeah, must plug those budget holes somehow. And don't plugging those budget holes "Protect Consumers" in the long run?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2018 @ 2:05pm

    THIS is fricking awesome news.

    first the EU basically outlaws free speech by banning ANY criticism of ANY religion ever, and threatens people with prison time.

    Now they make phones and tablets more expensive.

    Next up is the "grand army of the republic" they're busy forming.

    UK set alight to the EU, but their own MPs are pouring thousands of gallons of kerosene on the fire and fanning the flames with ridiculous far-right anti-freedom laws.

    WOohoo for an earlier total collapse of the European Union far early than I thought possible.

    At this rate it could be entirely destroyed by 2020!

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

    • identicon
      Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 27 Oct 2018 @ 10:41pm

      Re: Now they make phones and tablets more expensive.

      The prospect of higher profits is generally what brings newcomers into a market to make it more competitive, yes. Then that in turn leads to lower prices.

      Or, to put it another way, Google has been using enforced bundling as a way to shut out competition. Just like Microsoft, really.

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


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