Android has always been praised for being kind of open and highly versatile. However at the same time Google hasn’t been generating that much profit from the OS. By these means and many others, no one outside of Samsung has seen enough profits from the open source software save for a few non-publicly traded vendors.
Yesterday, The Information published a report detailing evidence of Google drafting more requirements for the mobile OS.
The confidential documents reveal that dozens of OEMs will be required to have north of 20 pre-installed official Google apps on their smartphones (a tall order from the typical 9), and this also includes a few other requirements like Google having the last say on where the Google search bar resides, and having a mandatory Google folder on the home-screen.
Every Android phone running the licensed software already comes with 9 official Google apps out of the box, these include Google Play, YouTube, Maps, Gmail etc. with this addition we could likely see apps like Music, Books, Newsstand (formerly Currents), Keep, Drive apps (Docs, Sheets too) and a few many others.
So if this pans out, local OEMs (Gtel and Astro) could be faced by a new challenge, storage. Most low to mid range products offered by Zimbabwe’s local OEMs have confined internal storage which is often taken up mostly by system apps. At best, they leave you with enough space to install apps of your own choice, which is not that much to begin with.
If this license is issued, a lot of Google apps will come pre-installed and that will cripple device storage, leaving these mid-range smartphones with enough space to install just as much as a single third party app.
We could also consider that Google announced a program for low cost devices that cost less than $100, named Android One. It’s a promising start for low end devices but the program has only been rolled out in India as of this writing.
It could take years to come here (considering it actually does land here), and that poses a threat to how much these OEMs are willing to compromise.
This is Google’s way of trying to reclaim Android. The more data they mine from you, the easier it is for Google to court advertisers and increase their revenue. It could be that they have a way to go around this for local OEMs, but right now it remains pretty sketchy.