The EU Fights For An Open Android
Earlier this year we wrote about how the European Commission (EC) slapped a $5 billion fine on Google in an anti-trust ruling. While you and I moved on with our lives this battle continued to rage. Now it’s back in the headlines with a verdict against Google. They’ve submitted an appeal to the Commission’s decision, but in the mean time there are some big changes to be implemented.
A Power Struggle Begins
The change coming to the EU is a major shift in Google’s traditional structure. Instead of an all-in-one package the company will start selling “parts” of Android to phone manufacturers. Phones that once came preloaded with apps like Chrome or Google Play can now be sold without. Samsung, LG, etc, are now allowed to sell Android-based phones without any of the Google apps that used to come with them.
You may be thinking so what? Is it really that big a deal that Chrome doesn’t come on my phone? I can just download another browser. True, but what this change really means is that Google’s grip on the Android brand has gotten a little looser. Before now manufacturers were locked into the app ecosystem Google has built, but now they have the option to release their own custom version. Samsung will likely emphasize it’s Galaxy Apps store instead of the Google Play Store, and others are sure to follow suit.
Contrary to common sense, more options aren’t necessarily a good thing. Imagine if all of these other companies begin creating their own app stores and backend services. Development could become a mess for us 3rdparty developers (aka almost all apps) and consumers would suffer.
There’s something to be said about uniformity from an experience standpoint, and further fragmentation won’t help with this. Think about Material Design. It exists so that anyone developing for Android can match the layouts that users are comfortable with. That doesn’t make Material Design a bad thing. It also doesn’t make this splitting of options a bad thing, but it’s something to consider.
Google has submitted an appeal to the ruling and argues that it has done everything in its power to create a more innovative marketplace for consumers. We’ll see where things go from here, but until the appeal is heard, it’s likely that we’ll see some fragmentation among manufacturers.
What are your thoughts on the ruling? Let us know in the comments below!