updated 03:50 pm EST, Sat February 15, 2014
Google requires pre-installed apps and default search
Information has surfaced about Google's Android licensing agreements that makes the operating system seem not quite as open as the company proclaims. Signed agreement documents with Samsung and HTC that had been previously unreleased have been revealed thanks to the Oracle v. Google case, and puts on display portions of the rules and conditions that come with using the free mobile operating system.
The documents from the Wall Street Journal reveal that to be able to use vital Google applications like the Play store, companies must sign a mobile application distribution agreement with the search giant. In doing so, the terms of the agreement outline that certain applications must be pre-installed on the device, in addition to search being set to default at Google. The specific agreements for Samsung and HTC even go into detail as to the placement of some of the applications away from the home screen.
This creates a situation where manufacturers have to comply with Google's terms to get the applications that will help their products be commercially successful. Otherwise, manufacturers would have to look into developing their own alternative apps or mobile platform without the powerful branding that Android carries with it.
At the most basic level, Android still is an quasi-open platform -- but is subject to restrictions based on what Google considers be open or closed source. However, to even be able to market a device with the Android name, companies will still have to license the trademark from Google, which is subject to criteria outlined by the company.
The European Commission is currently looking into these practices for antitrust violations, while an antitrust position may be harder to point out in the United States.