The European union wants Google to end what it sees as anti-competitive practices that force most phone and tablet makers to preload their devices with Google Search and the Chrome web browser if they also include the Google Play Store.

Google plans to appeal the decision, but what if Google loses? What happens next?

I have no idea, but there are a bunch of possibilities. I’ve listed a few below, but I’m curious to know what you think Android could look like in the future if the EU gets its way.

Here are some things that could happen:

  • When you first set up an Android device you’ll be greeted with a screen asking what you’d like to use as your default search engine, web browser, and other apps.
  • Phone makers will be able to ship phones with the Play Store but without Google Search or Chrome… but Google will start charging license fees to manufacturers that want to use Android, much the way Microsoft does with Windows. Android would stop being a platform for generating ad and service revenue for Google and become one for generating licensing revenue.
  • Or maybe Google will just start charging higher commissions on apps, games, media, and subscription purchase made through the Play Store instead of charging a licensing fee for the operating system.
  • Device makers will be able to load the Play Store on Android forks like Fire OS.
  • Google will officially allow users to install the Play Store on Android forks or AOSP (Android Open Source Project) builds.
  • Google kills AOSP.

What options am I missing?

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13 replies on “Let’s speculate: What would Android look like if Google complies with the EU decision”

  1. I hope the second point and its implication becomes a reality. Shifting their revenue model from ad-driven to license-driven could slow down the amount of data they suck up for personalised ads.

    At this point that seems like a pipe-dream.

  2. Google is the new Microsoft. Similiar thing happenned a few decades ago when MS was forced to unbundle Windows Media and Internet Explorer. This is a good thing for the consumer and will allow users to choose which apps of google to use.

  3. How about impossible radical and people just use a base Linux and then install what apps they want?

  4. Google will continue as before.. but will add a uninstall function for there apps
    Off course uninstall google play services.. will disable gmail, store and youtube
    There for…not many will do so?*

    Gms becomes optional install.. again no google services… no gmail , youtube , store ?*
    (Like remix mini hat)

    *off course…a real nerd knows.. you can bypass this by using apps from xda
    **Aurora Store – iytbp etc

    Google makes a stand…blocking all citizens of eu from Google market and search

    Google adds more ads for eu citizens.. doing searches

    Anyway… I think google services and many of there apps have become bloated
    -Why does Google apps need to run in the background all the time
    -why do i need to update google services.. if i wish to keep using gmail or youtube?
    ( if i don’t app crashes , feels like blackmail )

    1. None of those options is going to happen.

      As for Google services, Google provides a bunch of services for all kinds of stuff. Some of them interface with the Play store, allowing for auto-updates, payments, etc. They have services that help apps interface with Android, and they have services that allow the same app to run across seven different versions of Android, and are critical given how many different versions of Android are still in use at any one time.

  5. I imagine we will finally see a Microsoft Android phone. I doubt MS would actually make it themselves but contract it out the same way Google did for the Nexus devices.

  6. Other options:
    1) Google ceases licensing Google GMS in the EU and only sells Pixel devices.
    2) There is a detail in the release about FireOS. Phone vendors could start selling two models — FireOS and Android. If Google is stopping that (press release is ambiguous on this), that is a clear restraint of trade.

    You could allow the Google app store in FireOS, but many of the apps won’t work. That’s because those apps rely on libraries included in Google GMS. To make those apps work people side load Google GMS into FIreOS. But it is not Google stopping this, it is Amazon. Amazon does not want Google GMS loaded into their FireOS devices because then you will stop using the FireOS specific versions of app which feed their app revenue back to Amazon. I’m 99% sure Google would happily load Google GMS onto every FireOS device if Amazon would let them.

    1. I think Amazon would happily allow Google services on their devices because it would allow them to offer the full range of apps in their store.

      1. That’s the flaw here, if GMS services are installed into FireOS, then Amazon could wholesale copy the Google App store into their own app store thus capturing the 30% cut without doing any of the work.

        1. The developer should be the one getting paid and almost all apps are free anyway. Google doesn’t do any of the work either.

    2. Walking away from one third of their global revenue is not an option for Google. The shareholders would fire the board for even considering it.

      There isn’t really any need for such drastic actions anyway. The appeal process is going to take years, so it’s even possible that the circumstances will have made some or all of the issues moot,but assuming there is still a case to answer, Google isn’t likely to lose much by acceding to the EU demands to stop unfairly pressuring manufacturers to include their suite of apps as defaults, and to give users an easier, more prominent way to select their default search engine (some of which already use Google under the covers!).

      Google such a dominant player than these concessions are unlikely to see their market share by much, since it will always be an uphill battle for smaller companies to compete against such a behemoth. Of course, it is in Google’s interest to paint a worst case scenario picture, but when the dust finally settles, I doubt the landscape will be very different from that we see today.

  7. Wowie, when being able to install whatever you want becomes forcing a default app store on you. What about iPhones? I can’t even install 3rd party app stores on that. Can’t change my default messaging app, dialer, etc.

    1. Different issue. Apple owns the hardware platform, so there’s no need to pressure manufacturers into carrying their suite of apps. And despite its profitability and size, Apple is not the overall dominant player in mobile search or app stores — that’s Google, via Android.

      There are certainly issues to look at regarding how Apple runs its app store and whether the tactics sustaining the dominance of their apps and services violates anti-trust laws, but that’s completely different from what Google has been accused of doing.

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