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Google Charging OEMs Licensing Fees For Play Store 225

An anonymous reader writes "Google has begun charging OEMs for access to its proprietary Play Store applications for Android though the reported amount is as low as 75c per device. Between charging OEMs for Google Play apps, showing ads within these apps (Search, Maps and GMail) and profiling users with the data it collects this does show that Google is willing to leverage their stranglehold on the mobile market to control and monetize wherever it can. Add that these proprietary applications and the proprietary Google Play Services are the primary areas for Android innovation and development and you end up with an operating system that is less and less 'free' in the freedom and cost senses of the word."
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Google Charging OEMs Licensing Fees For Play Store

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  • That's fair enough (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:32PM (#46051279)

    It's an important service which needs decent maintenance. 75c is cheap for providing Google with the funds to moderate and protect users.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:34PM (#46051307)

      Except that they don't. There is plenty of malware on the play store.

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        Really What apps?

        • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @07:48PM (#46052061) Journal

          Is that a serious question? Take a look at the proceedings from any security conference in the last 2 years and you can find a very long list. The latest trick is for individuals who release small apps for free or a token amount to be offered money to sell their app, especially if the app already asks for more permissions than it really needs (great incentives there...). The buyers then release a new version bundled with malware. The new version is installed automatically if it doesn't need any more permissions, and since most manufacturers don't ship software updates for Android phones in a timely fashion there are typically a few nice root vulnerabilities lying around on a significant fraction of the installed base. From there, the attacker can do what they want (attack mobile banking apps, harvest passwords, send premium-rate SMS, or just proxy all network traffic and inject their own ads, the last being the most common).

          I know a couple of people who have turned down money to sell their (free, with only a few thousand users) apps for this purpose.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by knarf ( 34928 )

        Oh well, there is plenty of malware on the Apple app store as well. The Windows store is also full of malware.

        These statements are just as unproven as the one you just made. If you back up yours with some evidence, I'm sure I can find some for mine...

  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:37PM (#46051331) Homepage

    You know, where Android supplants all other OSs and electronic-based lifeforms?

    Yeah, not going to happen. Google is now going to monetize, so you'll see forks like Amazon FireOS. Or you might see a resurgence of WindowsPhone Yes Android will continue to dominate, but it's not going to become some monoculture.

    And somewhere in Cupertino, Tim Cook is laughing quietly...

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:39PM (#46051371)

    I thought they were already charging for access to the Google Play store and Google Apps like Maps. I thought that was why Android based devices like the Nook, Kindle; and Cyanogenmod releases didn't include access to Google Apps and the Store. Is that just a licensing restriction?

    Is a 75 cent fee really significant to anyone that wants their Android device to have access to the Google Apps and Play store? It's not like there aren't alternatives (though the Google Maps alternatives are lacking).

    • If your vendor doesn't want to play ( no pun intended ) and send Google what could amount to millions with all the hassle that goes with it, you cant just pony up the 75 cents yourself.

      • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

        If your vendor doesn't want to play ( no pun intended ) and send Google what could amount to millions with all the hassle that goes with it, you cant just pony up the 75 cents yourself.

        I'm not sure if you're making a point or just stating how a license fee works.

        But it sounds like a reasonable choice -- the vendor can save a dollar on the cost of the handset to be more price competitive, or they can add a dollar to the price and provide a feature that some users want (but others might not care about). I'm sure the front camera on my phone wasn't free, yet the manufacturer chose to put it in there and I paid for it even though I have never used it and am unlikely to ever use it.

    • by jrumney ( 197329 )

      They weren't charging per device before, just requiring membership of OHA and requiring the device to be certified as passing some tests to ensure compatibility.

    • OEMs already "paid" but they paid a nebulous amount of money to Google for support for the feature. Now they pay a well-defined amount of money. The deal has been altered, but it has been standardized. This will probably lead to more uptake of the store. OEs could even offer the same handset with and without google services, at different prices.

  • Cooking up Android costs money. You expect Google to pour all that money for nothing?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Desler ( 1608317 )

      For nothing? So they make no revenue from the apps they sell or the ads?

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      They make plenty of cash without locking the store down like this. Furthermore, this isn't really about money, its about vendor lock-in and control of OEMs.

      Yes, its their store and they can do whatever they like, but they make regret it in the long run by locking companies out.

  • by asmkm22 ( 1902712 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:58PM (#46051575)

    Maybe I'm missing something here, but I don't see what the big deal is. Like it or not, Google exists to make money. If they feel they have enough leverage to charge people for stuff that used to be free (be them consumers or OEM's), then so be it. If the market can't bear it, the endeavor will fail.

    Too often I hear the people complaining about products or companies are the same ones buying their stuff. We are asking for companies to regulate themselves and do what's in our best interest, when we can't even regulate ourselves. I think that's the whole reason government regulation even exists for things like this, is because people know they lack the willpower to make a chance on their own (stop buying the product), thus need some kind of external force to demand it.

    • Once upon a time, Android was supposed to be an open-source OS anyone could take and work on, and not just "iOS, but designed by Google instead of Apple". These days you can have AOSP and attempt to scrape together an out-of-date OS and thirdparty services, or you can be a signed up licencee of Google's vision for mobile.

  • by MouseTheLuckyDog ( 2752443 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @07:15PM (#46051763)
    $0.75 cents for what is essentially a collection of apps. Wow!
    • Its just one app really, Google Play. The article is a bit wrong saying Maps, Search and GMail are being charged for. They free to download, once you've got Google Play.

  • It's probably less than Microsoft scam from OEMs for their bogus patents
  • I am trying to understand what the big deal about any of it is? If I am a phone manufacturer or a hobbyist, I have the option to use Android as-is without Google Play.

    With Android you get a lot for free. With Apple, RIM and MS, not so much. The poster is complaining that with Android *everything is not free*. Horror of horrors! It is an extremely stupid post!!!

    I'd take a mostly open mobile OS where you have to pay for some things over a mostly closed mobile OS where you have to pay for most things.

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      Without Google services, the value of an android device drops significantly.

      Its not just about the 'market', as you also lose the entire Google ecosystem, Drive, Hangouts, etc etc.. Some you can access via web interfaces, some by 3rd party and others you cant get to at all.., and the ones you can manage to get to work wont will be fully integrated and its a huge kludge.

      • And to think, some of us jump through all sorts of hoops to peel that shit out as part of our normal turn-up...

  • So what does this mean for people that run alternate OSs built from source ( like CMxxx ) or have "generic" products? What about people that have existing products with no vendor support? We will not have Google services at all and Google will disable it ( not just the play store, but everything that goes with services )?

    Makes the devices pretty worthless for many, and might even drive people away from android.

    • CyanogenMod does not come with Play Store or Google apps (they stopped distributing them few years ago in September 2009 If you want them you have to download and flash them separately. The only exception is Oppo N1 CyanogenMod Edition which applied and received the certification so it can include Play store. Most white box Chinese Android tablets did not include Play store either or if they did they used "borrowed" device IDs and pretended to b

  • It has been too long since I found a "company tries to make money on products they make" story on /. Good job op.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright