Google tightens its control over Android OEMs
Back in February, a document released as part of the latest wave of lawsuits between various mobile companies gave us a look into the relationship between Google and licensed manufacturer partners. These are the OEMs who ship their phones with Google’s services and apps installed out of the box – so, pretty much all the major players (Amazon notwithstanding). The company’s Mobile Application Distribution Agreement delineated all the particular ways Google’s software had to be presented, including not just a list default apps, but specific ways they needed to be placed. Now a new report’s out on an updated version of MADA, and it shows Google only getting more and more controlling over Android.
Among the changes revealed in this newer MADA include a number of additional mandatory apps, requirements for quick access to Google Now, and restrictions on default voice search services other than Google’s. We also see claims about profit sharing agreements with both carriers and OEMs, and attempts to force Chrome’s web rendering engine as the system default. That “default” business is important, as while these restrictions tend not to outright limit what end users can do, they sure make it difficult for any OEMs to stray outside a somewhat rigid definition of Android’s look and feel.
Is any of this surprising? Not really, especially in light of things we’ve heard in the past about Google seeking to limit Android drift, as with its pushback against Samsung’s Magazine UX. But for Android fans who like to look at their platform as an island of openness in an otherwise locked-down smartphone sea, checking out documents like this from time to time can be an important eye opener to the incessant business interests that continue to shape our smartphone software experience.