Korean regulators looking into whether Google’s Android hurt Samsung’s Tizen
As the huge company that it is, Google tends to have a way of seeping into things through means you aren’t aware of. Yes, even into (or out of) Tizen OS.
The Korean Fair Trade Commission, though, is aware of a couple of stipulations between the firm and Samsung and is investigating some antitrust concerns it has.
Specifically, it is looking into the Mobile Application Distribution Agreement and the anti-fragmentation agreement signed. The first agreement basically ensures that manufacturers pre-load Google Mobile Services apps like YouTube, Drive and Gmail onto their devices and also mandates Google’s search engine as the default — leaving competitors feeling edged out and regulators mad.
Why? Unlike minimum hardware requirements that ensure an impressibly decent experience, dictating which web services a manufacturer’s phone must have as an irrevocable default allegedly deprives users of choice for such things — you can’t just Bing things from the intrinsic search bar on the home screen.
The second, though, is the worrisome one for Samsung: it requires manufacturers to not use Google algorithms in the making of their own operating system. Since May, the KFTC has been investigating whether this contract had a negative impact in the development of Tizen OS in order to replace Android on its smartphones. We don’t have access to documents that the commission has submitted to the executive government or to opposition party leaders, so it isn’t clear what algorithms Samsung can’t use in its Tizen phones and how important (or inessential) they are to the trademark Google Android experience. Hopefully, we’ll learn more as the process moves along.
Remember that Samsung makes Android devices that are certified by Google and run on the Google Play Services framework. Chinese Android phones and Amazon’s Fire OS fork on top of the base Android open source code (remember that Android has a pre-Google history) and, among other aspects different from Google’s Android, rely on in-house or third-party app stores. Sure, we’re talking about different ballgames, but it’s Google’s ballgame that is the most recognizable, most secure and has a most desirable development pace and focus for the most markets.
Google has faced similar scrutiny in the United States and the European Union over these agreements — agreements it has gone at a length to defend. The Korean branch of the company has issued a similar defense against the KFTC’s revelation.