Google to OEMs: "If you want Android, you gotta follow our rules"


Despite its reputation for being open source, Google actually has a pretty tight grip on Android.

For instance, the search giant forbids any OEM interested in selling devices with its mobile operating system unless it agrees to include all of its apps and services as part of the package. This includes YouTube, Gmail, and Hangouts, among others. 

Google's stringent prerequisites were unearthed by Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman, who specializes in Internet privacy issues. Edelmen cited business documents obtained from the public record of the Oracle America v. Google litigation, according to ZDNet. The documents mention Google's Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA), which contains several criteria that manufacturers, such as Samsung and HTC, are required to follow if they're to continue distributing Android on their devices. 

Unless otherwise approved by Googie in writing: (1) Company will preload all Google Applications approved in the applicable Territory or Territories on each Device; (2) Google Phone-top Search and the Android Market Client leon must be placed at least on the panel immediately adjacent to the Default Home Screen; (3) all other Google Applications will be placed no more than one level below the Phone Top; and (4) Google Phone-top Search must be set as the default search provider for all Web search aocess [sic] points on the
Device. Notwithstanding the foregoing, there are no placement requirements for Optional Google Applications. For clarity, "Web search" shall not include data on the Device.

Additionally, Google requires that its Network Location Provider API is installed and set as the default.

None of this is a surprise considering that Google has been pulling the reins back on how much control manufacturers have over Android, including requiring them to ship devices with an up-to-date version of Android. The search giant has to maintain some sort of control to keep Android competitive with other mobile operating systems, and to ensure that its voice isn't lost in the shuffle of the liberties the OEMs have taken with it. Companies like Samsung and LG are notorious for attempting to push their own applications, services, and app stores alongside Google's on their respective handsets. 

Google also just signed a long-term deal with Samsung to further their partnership. Samsung's Deputy General Counsel for Patents at Google, Allen Lo, said, "By working together on agreements like this, companies can reduce the potential for litigation and focus instead on innovation." But it's really just another way for Google to maintain control over what the biggest manufacturer of Android devices is doing with its open source operating system, and to bring back a little more unity to a severely fragmented platform. 

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