Google Antitrust Case: Android phones in India only need to pre-load Google Play Store, shows leaked terms


After a big judgement in India, Android is going to alter significantly in the not-too-distant future. Earlier this year, India upheld a judgement that was intended to sever Google’s grip over Android, focusing primarily on the applications Google compelled its partners to install, as well as the company’s control over app distribution through the Play Store. 

In response to that decision, Google has already announced modifications to both Android and the Play Store, including the broad expansion of “User Choice Billing” to all applications and games.

What are MADA agreements?
Google’s Mobile Applications Distribution Agreement, or MADA, is a license requirement for access to any of Google’s Android apps, including the app that actually is required to set up devices like the Chromecast.

Also read: In a major setback, Google loses bid to block India’s Android antitrust ruling

Basically, Google’s MADA or MADA in general, is a generic agreement that device manufacturers sign with Google which allows Google to place certain apps as defaults in devices manufactured by those device makers. This way, the device makers also get some rebates from Google, or even make money by allowing Google to place certain default apps. 

Google India’s new IMADA
Kuba Wojciechowski claims to have discovered a document outlining “IMADA,” the India-specific version of Google’s partners’ Mobile Application Distribution Agreement. This new agreement is optional, and when adopted, it confines a device’s sale to India alone.

The potential for Android partners to just be needed to pre-install the Google Play Store is perhaps the most significant change. This is a significant departure from the standard “MADA,” which also needs Google Search, Chrome, Drive, Gmail, Maps, Pictures, YouTube, and a few other applications to be pre-installed. 

Also read: Google challenged: Epic Games sues Google in India for not complying with antitrust order properly

Google Play Services is still necessary, as it is for all apps released through the Play Store. Manufacturers are also no longer obligated to include the Google Search widget on the home screen by default, as well as the Play Store and other Google app shortcuts.

India vis-a-vis the rest of the world
With more and more countries imposing their own antitrust laws on Google, it makes sense that Google adopts a standard and revised MADA agreement for all manufacturers. However, given the potential loss of revenue, Google will likely stick to their regular MADA agreements where it faces no antitrust challenges, and will rather create new agreements, like India’s I-MADA or IMADA, where it has issues with antitrust laws.

Also read: Google loses appeal against record EU antitrust fine, to pay 4.125 billion Euros

Interestingly, Google is also setting up the “Indian Placement Agreement,” which pays companies to pre-install any of the 11 core Google apps and place them on the homescreen by default. The payouts are not mentioned, though.

How does it change things for users?
For starters, once this policy goes in to effect, your Android smartphones will not come bloated with Google-centric apps, which you can’t remove. Instead, you get to choose your own apps.

Don’t like using Gpay and prefer some other Wallet? You get to choose to install your wallet app, and not have any trace of Gpay on your device at all? Don’t like using Gmail’s mobile application? You’re free to choose any other application that shows you your email, including the ones from your Gmail account.

This revised agreement also includes a stage in the setup process that prompts users to select a default search engine during setup, but only for devices that still feature the Google Search app. This is the same setup page that users in the European Union view.

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Google Antitrust Case: Android phones in India only need to pre-load Google Play Store, shows leaked terms
Google Antitrust Case: Android phones in India only need to pre-load Google Play Store, shows leaked terms
ASE News
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