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Google Apps License Forbids Forking, Promotes Google Services 163

Sockatume writes "If you want to ship a phone with Google's apps on it, you need to license them. A copy of the OEM licensing agreement from 2011 was recently leaked, and Ars Technica provides a summary. Amongst the rules: a company licensing Google Apps can't act in a way that would fragment Android, but must also maintain the platform's open-ness; most of Google's services must be included; Google apps must be defaults, and placed within a couple of clicks of the default home screen. No surprises, but it's interesting to see the details laid out."
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Google Apps License Forbids Forking, Promotes Google Services

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  • Re:Antitrust (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CTalkobt ( 81900 ) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @02:14PM (#46239583) Homepage
    They're not tying it to the phone. They're tying it to the permission to utilize the Android trademark and to utilize the Google Apps. Think of it this way, "Here's a box of screws. If you want to use my hammer, then you need to use my wood also." "If you don't want to, go elsewhere." is fine and no lumber yard would run into anti-trust issues over it. (Might run out of customers however due to nature of the business).
  • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grantbridge ( 1377621 ) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @02:15PM (#46239593)
    All of Android is open source, except Google Play/Market, Gmail app, Google Maps, etc If you want your phone to have the Google App store, then you need to obey their terms and conditions. Just because the OS is open source doesn't mean any program which runs on it has to be. There are plenty of non GPL programs available for Linux! An android phone WITHOUT access to Google app store, Google Maps, Calender, Gmail etc isn't going to be much use to the majority of Android users. This is how Google controls Android.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 13, 2014 @02:20PM (#46239639)

    You're right, the Apple license to allow me to use iOS and Apple apps on my own phone brand is MUCH more open. At least according to my unicorn lawyer.

    He said HONEST not OPEN

  • Re:First post? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @02:27PM (#46239695)

    What about the ability to unlock the bootstrapper? My Motorola phone, which came out while Motorola was owned by Google, doesn't allow me to unlock the bootstrapper. No exploit exists, so no CyanogenMod for me... and Motorola's last OS update was to 4.1.2 over a year ago, and I purchased the phone with that version.

    I don't see how you can say there is a requirement to "maintain the platform's open-ness" when the company you own doesn't keep their devices open.

  • Slow day? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aergern ( 127031 ) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @02:31PM (#46239725)

    Why is this news? This has been known for a very, very long time.

    Android is Android and Google apps are Google's apps.

    I guess folks really are as stupid as they appear.

  • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gutnor ( 872759 ) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @02:55PM (#46239971)

    The list of exception is rather significant: the missing apps are also the foundations of the API other apps uses. So you are not just missing out on the Google App Store and a few standalone apps, but all the API related to those apps too - which a very exhaustive list.

    When people say "Android is open-source" that is not what they have in mind. In practice Android is open source like OSX is open source (Darwin), sure you get the foundations of a great system, but none of the shiny bits. So rather than a walled garden, you have a fenced garden. If you want freedom you need to look at Firefox and Ubuntu.

    Have a look at the following doc for detailled discussion: []

  • Re: Antitrust (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @03:04PM (#46240051)

    The analogy to Internet explorer ties breaks down when you consider that Google allows the system to be used without they're apps.

    Google doesn't allow their apps to be used without Android.
    You can't legally get Google's apps on AOSP anymore. You're forced to pay for Android and forced to enter into branding and whatever other bullshit agreements they tie you down with before you even have the option of buying the Google apps to include on your device. The apps are separate from Android, and this is trivially demonstrable. To require the purchase of the OS and agreement to all the encumbering contractual stipulations before one can buy the separate apps is anticompetitive once you show that the OS and apps are separate and represent separate markets. Google is desperately trying to maintain control over Android in the face of Amazon and Samsung (who are more than willing and capable of forking AOSP and going their own way, and both of whom have their own app stores).

    Google is using their apps as leverage to keep Samsung on Android and to keep Amazon's Kindle OS shitty and gimped (no Google apps, no Play Store).
    It's the same reason why Amazon lets Kindles and iPhones access Amazon Prime Instant Video, but not Android.

    Imposing artificial restrictions upon one product or service in order to prop up another separate product or service is bullshit, even if it's a company you happen to give free analingus to.

  • Re:Hey, Google... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CCarrot ( 1562079 ) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @03:04PM (#46240055)

    People complain when there's fragmentation, people complain when there's an effort to prevent it.

    The platform is still open, but Google's services and ownership of the Play store is not. You can make an Android phone, fork it and do whatever you want, but if you want to run it on the Play store and Google Maps, whatever, you have to agree to the rules. Those rules, by the way, do a hell of alot to standardise and make the platform stable for developers.

    Some people won't be happy until everything is completely gratis and uncontrolled, and we'll end up with the same mess we had with Symbian.

    Fair enough, at least for the 'no forking' stipulation, but the whole requirement to pre-install all google apps if one only wants access to, say, the Play Store? And the mandatory submission of *very* granular sales data? How, exactly, do these stipulations contribute to platform stability?

    I fail to see how it is different from the whole hullabaloo with Microsoft and Internet Explorer [], the outcome of which was:

    Lawsuits brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, 18 states, and the District of Columbia in two separate actions were resolved through a Consent Decree that took effect in 2001 and a Final Judgment entered in 2002. These proceedings imposed various constraints on our Windows operating system businesses. These constraints include limits on certain contracting practices, mandated disclosure of certain software program interfaces and protocols, and rights for computer manufacturers to limit the visibility of certain Windows features in new PCs. We believe we are in full compliance with these rules. However, if we fail to comply with them, additional restrictions could be imposed on us that would adversely affect our business.

    So, here we see MS originally taking the hard-line approach, then being forced to allow vendors to 'bury' Windows-specific features in favor of their own offerings. True, most new Windows PCs still ship with IE pre-installed and ready to go, but it's no longer up to MS to dictate that it shall be so.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.