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Fork it! Google fined €4.34bn over Android, has 90 days to behave

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"I use it instead of Google Maps."

Same. And not just on Android. There is desktop software like Geosetter which works with it just fine...

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"Same. And not just on Android. There is desktop software like Geosetter which works with it just fine..."

I wrote a module for OpenSim that drags in OpenStreetMaps data and other stuff to build a portion of the real world in the virtual world, all you do is feed it lat/long of one corner.

Or you can just point a web browser at https://www.openstreetmap.org/

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Dandy Highwaymen

and spend their cash on looking flash.

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Re: Dandy Highwaymen

and spend their cash on looking flash.

And grabbing the attention of the European Commission,

Google ain't no 'Prince Charming' any longer, more a Grand Vizier (and you know what Pratchett mused about people with that title).

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Re: Dandy Highwaymen

Upvote for the Sir Pterry reference.

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I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

I only buy phones with 'standard' Android builds because all those skinned and modified Android implementations are inferior. I'm buying it for Google's services, I don't want a phone full of inferior adware, junkware and half-baked & buggy OS modifications which is what the EU seem to think we want.

But more importantly where is the 4.43 billion Euro's going? Is it going to the consumers it is claimed were disadvantaged or is it going into EU coffers to help pay their outrageous pensions?

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Re: I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

If Google are so great, how come they abused their monopoly by forcing vendors to use Google Search and other services, but didn't use the same power to force them to issue security updates for the OS?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

Is it going to the consumers it is claimed were disadvantaged or is it going into EU coffers to help pay their outrageous pensions?

The consumers won't see any of it because the EU commissars are greedy and want it all for themselves, that's why they are doing this.

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Re: I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

Vendors are not "forced to include Google search", they can take the freely available Android source code and build an OS with whatever pre-installed and pre-configured junk they want, but if they want to put google services & the google play store on it they have to comply with Google's rules - nothing wrong with that.

Users can choose to buy phones from vendors who provide regular updates, they have a free choice.

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Re: I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

"If Google are so great, how come they abused their monopoly by forcing vendors to use Google Search and other services, but didn't use the same power to force them to issue security updates for the OS?"

Most of that was down to the component manufacturers, most of which operate on razor-thin highly-competitive margins and don't have to rely on the phone market to keep going (there's a large non-phone embedded market now). They depend on Planned Obsolescence to keep going and have enough outside market to ignore Google. When was the last time you saw a complete open-source driver base for Rockchip or Mediatek SoCs? EVERYTHING out there is blobs, and they can legally argue on the basis of Trade Secrets.

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Re: I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

Yeah, there's a reason for brexit

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Re: I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

That reason being: people are fucking stupid.

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RRJ

Re: I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

The funds are going into the EU coffers to off-set the failed EURO... why anyone went with this is so sad..

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If Google are so great ...

... how come they abused their monopoly by forcing vendors to use Google Search and other services, but didn't use the same power to force them to issue security updates for the OS?

Good question. I do wish that Google would make timely support with software updates a requirement for any vendor licensing Android.

I can see why they might not, though ... part of the answer to that must be that most vendors will bow -- albeit perhaps grudgingly -- to Google's bundling requirements because complying with those doesn't actually cost them very much money. They're barred from producing some other products for which there might be a market, but that market isn't very lucrative.

Having to keep an OS version in development for an old device has an ongoing cash cost that the vendors are unlikely to swallow with good grace. Google keeps the vendors on-side by refraining from making that a requirement.

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Wrong target?

When was the last time you saw a complete open-source driver base for Rockchip or Mediatek SoCs? EVERYTHING out there is blobs, and they can legally argue on the basis of Trade Secrets.

So ... what you're saying is that the EU should be going after the SoC makers, and insisting that they publish Open Source reference implementations of all the drivers for their devices -- or face a fine or being banned from the market -- in order to enable small AOSP-based device vendors to compete effectively with the big boys and girls?

Sounds good to me ...

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Fining someone for 'breaking' unclear law.

Is anyone else bothered by the EU *fining* a company retro-actively for something that is *not* clearly a violation of anti-trust rules.

The EU can certainly decide to impose these conditions moving forward, but retroactive fines are just a bureaucracy run amok.

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Re: Fining someone for 'breaking' unclear law.

Per the article, Google to phone manufacturers: "if you try to market even a single FireOS phone, we will withdraw your licence to ship fully-functioning Android phones".

Your definition of what is and isn't "clearly a violation of anti-trust rules" must vary from mine.

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Re: Fining someone for 'breaking' unclear law.

"Is anyone else bothered by the EU *fining* a company retro-actively for something that is *not* clearly a violation of anti-trust rules."

Very bothered, A lot about the EU bothers me, but the commentards on el reg are very pro EU and mutter anything negative about the EU and the downvotes come down as heavy as an EU "fine"

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Re: Fining someone for 'breaking' unclear law. @pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

So your argument is: Google's alleged placing of terms into its contract to effect penalties if the other side ships anything that competes with a Google products is not "clearly" anticompetitive? And that the main reason anybody here might think a legally-enforceable contractual term that prohibited competition was anticompetitive... is pro-EU bias?

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Anonymous Coward

Too many tards...

Don't you remember the quality and competition in browsers a few years ago when 90% used Internet Explorer - mmmm IE6 that was super good, compare that with now, including Google chrome. Imagine what could be had in the phone arena, but don't hurt your brains to much...

Jesus, talk about turkeys and Christmas. I thought this is where the clever IT people hang out!

Oh, don't throw your dummy out, nobody's going to stop you using Android IF you WANT too.

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Re: Too many tards...

You don't remember Firefox before that got turned into Google roadkill?

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Yee Haw!, Eeh Haw!

A lot of anti-EU 'how dare they fine Google' (presumably 'an US company') sentiment on here today.

Tempted to think the Trumpeters cavalry are out in force, armed with recent orange twits tweets about 'the enemy' to try to deal some alternative propaganda.

'Course, it might be the Farage-Boris lot, hoping to ingratiate in the vain hope of not being shafted roughly at a future US-UK trade grovel agreement.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yee Haw!, Eeh Haw!

I am all for open debate but some of these comments are made by obvious Google employees or shareholders.

Look through the El Reg archives that mention Google and/or Android and you will see many similarities in the comments made by a select number of users.

It's getting so bad that I am looking for a different forum.

But that's exactly the point isn't it?

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Re: Yee Haw!, Eeh Haw!

It's getting so bad that I am looking for a different forum.

Yeah, good luck with that, but I doubt anything less infected exists.

I'm not so sure of the corporate sponsored involvement (although it would not surprise me), unpaid or unrewarded partisanship seems quite easy to induce in the land of the 'no free lunch unless you pay for it, and tip well, but if you can afford it, then it's complimentary'.

I know I wouldn't go down well on Ars....

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Re: Yee Haw!, Eeh Haw!

There seems to be a lot of pro-EU comments like your own. Are your parents part of the EU and give you some of the fine money as a treat for dropping anti US-UK propaganda?

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Re: Yee Haw!, Eeh Haw!

I'm pretty sure that listening to people opening their mouths could make even the staunchest supporter of democracy swear it off in abject horror eventually, given enough time.

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Anonymous Coward

Manufacturer specific "features" - sorry - bloatware

Try this:

As part of the agreement with Google, Amazon, etc., make it mandatory to offer a choice of a plain vanilla instal, or a manufacturer-specific install, complete with all those wonderful and oh, so desirable "features" (the sort of stuff so many of us thick, knuckle dragging IT types who know nothing of marketing might call bloat)

Obviously, the world plus dog would opt for the contaminated version but at least there would be some semblance of choice.

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"Google leveraged its platform dominance"

Please. What is wrong with "used"? Has someone escaped from HR again?

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Re: "Google leveraged its platform dominance"

Please. What is wrong with "used"? Has someone escaped from HR again?

You wanted them to 'used' like a 'used' condom when they can instead 'leverage' a more dynamic sounding word that gives the impression of force being applied with care and judgement and to ultimate effect?

Even when the impression is a total lie and gives a wholly false image of even remotely competent management.

This verbal virus spread far beyond HR years ago.

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Re: "Google leveraged its platform dominance"

Why, what is wrong with less weasel-cursed words like... "exploited"?

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Anonymous Coward

The big big question

If the EU are doing this to Google when are they going to land on Microslurp for using their market dominance and dumping win 10 on peoples computers even if they didn't want it? Or is this some vendetta by the EU because they are treading on the toes of some of Microslurp's supporters.

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Re: The big big question

Windows 10 has been known to automatically change your default programs to Microsoft defaults, and makes it hard for regular users to change default programs. This I see as more of a concern than whatever this Google thing is all about. Still not fine worthy. The EU is increasingly power hungry

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LDS
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Re: The big big question

This kind of investigations requires time and resources - MS can incur into antitrust and privacy issue one day too, as it did in the past already. I also hope GDPR will kill most, it not all, the personal data slurping by MS and Google (and others...)

Still, Google acted along the same anti competitive lines and deserves the fine it got.

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Shareholders Carry the Can?

So, how is Google going to explain this one to shareholders. After all, this is not the first time Google have been fined by the EU, and this specific result has been in the pipeline for a long time.

In short, Google cannot tell their shareholders that they are "surprised" by the outcome.

Ordinarily, this scale and type (as near to a criminal fine as you can get without attracting a jail term!) of loss would result in a pretty big shake up in the composition of the board, and the chairman / CEO would be in trouble too. Except that owing to the corporate constitution of Google, Google's seniors can go tell the ordinary shareholder "like it or lump it", because most shareholders have no voting rights in Google.

Why oh why the US permits these types of company constitutions to exist is beyond me; they distort the open market enormously, something that the USA is supposed to be dead set against. Oh it's all very well saying that there's other companies out there in which one is free to invest, but a large number of these enormous new tech companies are all set up in similar ways; there is no real choice out there for the tech-orientated investor.

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Re: Shareholders Carry the Can?

Shareholders have the ultimate "voting right" which they exercise with every buy or sell transaction.

When the investors start to move toward the door in significant numbers the share price drops, which means the value of the company is lessened, making it less attractive to new investors.

This big a fine is newsworthy enough to stampede a noticeable number of the small investors. If too many of them join the sidle to the exit the stock price can drop enough to bring attention from the financial regulators.

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what about Apple?

So why isn't apple fined for forcing users to use itunes, safari and locked into the apple ecosystem?

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Re: what about Apple?

Because none of that is contrary to competition law.

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Devil

Re: what about Apple?

Apple allows you to use any search engine you want. In addition you can use Opera, Firefox etc as there are apps for them. Google allows very little freedom for the consumer. Ffs Apple even allows removal of the bloatware so they are not breaking the law in this case.

Just another basher of Apple eh? Ffs comment on the article rather than using it to ecosystem bash. None of them (Linix, M$, Apple etc) are perfect- if they were we would all be happy with one brand. Google just loves to bully and lock out small business and stamps on startups with brilliant ideas - why? - They used to be the little guy and know how easy it is to fall no matter how big you are.

No excuses for the sleaze that Google is to behave to the detriment of the consumer so hence the fine. No doubt they will have many lawyers looking for an angle. They wont find the angle as the EU is already pissed off with the UK so US insane logic will just piss them off more.

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LDS
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Re: what about Apple?

Simply because it doesn't hold a dominant position. The day it has, it will incur in fines as well. Maybe that's one reason why Apple is interested only in the upper market - it ensure big profits without incurring into antitrust regulations.

Antitrust law are designed to apply only when the market becomes heavily distorted by entities who are large enough to use their weight to achieve it, especially across different areas - not to to control each and every company, which would hinder innovation and growth.

Be also aware that a dominant position per se is not unlawful - its abuse is.

You may want to use Google to perform some searches about how it works....

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Re: what about Apple?

You can use whatever you damn well please on Google products. Most people don't want to though because when products seamlessly integrate, love is easier

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Re: what about Apple?

You can use whatever you damn well please on Google products.

You can, as a user, yes.

The EU's complaint is that Google don't allow OEMs to exercise the same freedom by installing alternative apps instead of Google's own.

I, personally, don't mind Google insisting that all their own apps should be present on a new device -- as long as I can delete or disable the ones I don't want to use (which I can't, in some cases) -- but that's not the issue, either.

The issue that sticks in the craw is that Google apparently don't allow an OEM to produce two Android devices, one of which is fully Googled-up while the other is not. If they're different devices they should be allowed to use different licensing schemes.

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Re: what about Apple?

Re: what about Apple?

Apple allows you to use any search engine you want. In addition you can use Opera, Firefox etc as there are apps for them. Google allows very little freedom for the consumer. Ffs Apple even allows removal of the bloatware so they are not breaking the law in this case.

The issue isn't that consumer doesn't have browser choice or maps choice or choice for any of the google offering. The issue is that Google if forcing its apps to be pre-installed and not removable and no rival can be pre-installed so Google apps becomes the default choice.

I'm guessing the vast majority of users can't be bother to download alternative to Google apps.

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Re: what about Apple?

"The issue that sticks in the craw is that Google apparently don't allow an OEM to produce two Android devices, one of which is fully Googled-up while the other is not. If they're different devices they should be allowed to use different licensing schemes."

Nothing is stopping them from doing just that; they can take the free Android kernel and build their own operating system, incorporating whatever rubbish home developed apps they want to. If they produced one that is better than Fully Googled Android then, just as Chrome beat out IE, they/it would beat out Google,.

The chances are more than 50/50 though that it wouldn't be better and would be so full of Samsung, for instance, rubbish that you couldn't uninstall, and wouldn't be able to change default search, email etc. and would "slurp" your information and data to Samsung rather than Google.

The end of this route is that the only decent option for a mobile phone would be one that is Googles own.

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Anonymous Coward

You can't compare Microsoft in the 90s to Android today. Microsoft sold a license to consumers AND then promoted their own apps/services. Google does not sell a license for Android so the only way they can monetize is via their apps like search.

If you tell Google that they can't install search and Chrome, they are essentially developing and managing Android for free and earning nothing. If you told Microsoft they couldn't install IE and Office in the 90s, they would have made billions upon billions of dollars from Windows in licensing.

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LDS
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"ou can't compare Microsoft in the 90s to Android today."

Keep on trying to climb glass.... the screech of your nails is easy to hear here too...

What business model Google chose really doesn't matter - just like MS one didn't matter. Nobody is forcing Google to give Android away for nothing or the like - if Google decided so, so it can act as a Trojan Horse for Google services, it's only a decision they made wholly themselves. It's a sort of dumping too, in many ways - for which they greatly exploited a lot of open source work at their own advantage (plus Java, trying to avoid also to pay for a license...)

Still, it can't abuse its dominant position to hinder competition, because it breaks the law. it's very simple.

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This is ridiculous. Google dominates because it does things good. You buy an Android or Chromebook and you have instant free access to gone drive, docs, calendar, etc. On top of that, you can easily install third party apps, which can integrate directly with other Google services

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Please EU put Google down with follow through

I'm mostly an end user now having spent years specifying functionality for our internet applications for sport giving me insight into Google's insidious creep of dominance and what it writes unseen into root code.

I do everything I can to avoid Google services, especially Chrome which I regard as almost dangerous, as if a digital octopus with tentacles enveloping and extracting personal data from the user.

As an example of why Google should be stopped, 10 days ago I received a Google notification that to continue downloading email from a Google email account to my Outlook, I MUST install Chrome, without Chrome I am not allowed to continue downloading. I reacted with fury vowing NEVER to install Chrome and found a work around to continue my usual email practice. It's part of Google's increasing practice of frustrating use of Msoft services.

I happily am a Msoft devotee (I hear screams of shock and horror) since 1986 and still hanker for the days of dos and simplicity and purity of its operation. Despite what many say about Msoft, it has served me and my various businesses mostly reliably and well.

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Imagine if Google responds by saying Android will no lnger be available in the EU countries except on a paid subscription basis. Say 5 Euro/month. That would give competitors such as Amazon and Microsoft a chance.

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Anonymous Coward

Hang on.

Google just got heavily fined for engaging in 'Microsoft-style tactics'.

But Microsoft got away with it. And they still are getting away with it.

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