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Google forced OnePlus to decimate a Fortnite launcher deal, claims Epic Games (theverge.com)
177 points by theBashShell 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 163 comments

I don't find it particularly interesting to argue over whether Google and/or Apple or Goople are monopolies/duopolies.

I think however it is obvious that something has seriously pathologically gone wrong in the mobile software market and these two companies are behind it.

I also don't think that appeals to "is that legal" are all that satisfying -- (Apple's free speech lets them silence whoever they wish, of course) -- but does that seem right to you?

For problems like these I tend to start at the end and work backwards. What would we want an ideal ecosystem to look like? And working backwards, what policies, laws, and cultural rules were made in order to get there? What products were built, and/or sold, in order to build that outcome?

Then we do those things.

I watch these conversations again and again devolve into whether these companies are monopolies, but I think that discussion is beside the point. Is it right?. Why do I only have 2 choices? Why do I get to choose only between Global Hoover or Comical Evil? And why if I choose one of them, do I give up all choices that follow?

Solving problems like these relies on establishing a common ground about what we want to see, and agreeing that what we see isn't that. So -- what do we see wrong now, and what would we fix?

> Why do I only have 2 choices?

There’s an extremely high barrier to entry and people don’t have time to learn different operating systems.

Used to have windows phone as a choice, but never ever did google cooperate in getting something as major as YouTube on that platform.

(Yet Roku and more do.)

I left Windows Phone several years ago due to lack of apps. Recently I found the old phone in my home and played with it a bit. WP UI was awesome, I miss it. It was so clean, so easy to use, so beautiful. But the lack of apps really killed it.

What was it 5 years that Google denied any perceptible lag on their platform before coming out with Project Butter. Windows Phone was the only other mobile OS as responsive and snappy as iOS.

I absolutely loved my Windows Phones and was gutted when they killed the product.

Actually they even blocked it. Microsoft had a YouTube app in the store but Google blocked it [0]

[0]: https://www.cnet.com/news/microsoft-neuters-youtube-windows-...

Everyone had to learn these mobile OSes which are extremely unintuitive.

The barrier is caused by a lack of available software (something html5 has largely solved outside of games/Snapchat/apples anti competitive behavior with chat etc.)

The barrier to entry is not high. There used to be many more options for phone OS.

The barrier to entry is very high because for your OS to be able to compete, it has to support a similar app ecosystem. Getting most major app developers on board with supporting a new OS is pretty much impossible, especially given how many of them rely on Android or iOS specific software.

I don't think this is unique to mobile either - pretty much everyone uses Windows or Mac because those OS's support the software that they want to use (although with everything moving to the web this is going away to some degree). The main difference with mobile is that the expectation (or requirement, with Apple) is that you will install software through the app store rather than just downloading it from the internet like on desktop.

When phones were much more limited in their functionality and user expectations were nowhere near as high as they are today.

Complexity of phones since 2007 has skyrocketed. Can a small team create a phone OS and the ecosystem users have grown accustomed to today?

GNU/Linux has a larger and much more healthy app ecosystem than either of the popular mobile OSes.

And before you say a desktop DE is unusable on a handheld I’d urge you to actually try it. I’ve owned multiple handhelds running GNU/Linux with either the DE I used on my laptop (fvwm at the time) or lxde and they’re more comfortable than mobile GUIs. (I’m particular: there are far fewer mobile dialogs and touch controls popping over eachother right before you tap them.)

I have been a linux user since early teenage. So I don't need any nudge for that.

But on phones, I prefer a great screen, good camera and everything else the mainstream offers. I have a proper camera and good laptops with display and everything but nothing beats the convenience of a good phone for someone who is a nomad(well before covid-19). If linux handhelds work for you, power to you. But I have never found any in the last five years at least that I wanted to use as a daily driver. Would be interested in recommendations though.

I doubt developers miss the days of having to make a dozen different builds just to get a single J2ME app working on major phones. Forget about cross platform.

We don't have to miss them, because we live them every single day on Android.

Microsoft Surface Duo is now taking pre-orders and it runs Android

>I also don't think that appeals to "is that legal" are all that satisfying

I've always used the rule of thumb that if the best thing someone can say about their behavior or decisions is that they aren't illegal, that person is probably the arsehole in the situation.

Microsoft is good these days. Was it because they were not right? Some people established a common ground? Maybe regulations?

No, its business was cannibalized by open source - OS by Linux, browser by Mozilla, native software by web applications, shrinking server installations, outflow of developers. And now they are good.

Apple closed this route with proprietary hardware and walled garden.


Was duopoly any different on desktop?

- Apple OS X, Microsoft Windows, custom Windows builds, Linux, BSD, etc

- Apple iOS, Google Android, custom Android builds, postmarketOS, Ubuntu Touch, etc

You can't run Apple OS on generic desktop. Hardware support varies if it is not Windows - good on Linux, worse on BSD, but Plan 9? Haiku OS?

Software support is number 1 reason people stick to Windows. Linux and BSD has essentials covered - editors, browser, office. No modern browser on Plan 9, some run it on remote host, some live without it.

Microsoft (at its height) pushing OEMs, proprietary API, changing storage formats. Apple pushing proprietary hardware, API, closing ecosystem. If you play by their rules you support their decisions.

The only thing that matters is voting with your feet. There is alternative today - PinePhone and Librem 5 has open source drivers (support as long as you wish) [1], LineageOS, F-Droid, postmarketOS, Ubuntu Touch. It is not as polished but you can't have both (at least yet).

[1] https://wiki.postmarketos.org/wiki/Devices

I think in the last thread a bunch of people were adamant Google wasn't a monopolist because plenty of phones shipped with app stores outside of Play. Seems like Google picks and chooses which of those are okay.

It's time to stop lying: Google will absolutely abandon every single rule in the book to ensure they get 30% of Fortnite purchases. It's too lucrative, and Google is too greedy.

This has nothing to do with safety or security. It has nothing to do with playing fair and following their terms. It's about the money.

TBF, this is bleeding fresh new information; I expect most of those arguing in good faith were unaware of this behaviour.

But yes, let's stop pretending that Google is an altruistic, benevolent and freedom-loving company. It's not.

But information wants to be free. And Google wants information to be free too. Especially wants your information. To use, and monetize, and exploit in ways we probably don't know about*

*To be fair, Google provides various conveniences and services in exchange for your data, so it doesn't get it completely for free. But there are three general categories of people on this: 1) People who like those conveniences and services and have little idea or thoughts about what pays for it. 2) People who understand this exchange, and make it willingly, eyes open. 3) People who understand this exchange, don't like it, and avoid as many aspects of it as they can.

I'll be honest: With every purchase at every web site, every account created, every app installed that asks for this little permission or another, I begin to feel more & more that it doesn't really matter, and fall further into #2.

Apple and Google chiming together: "we're not a monopoly, we're a duopoly and that's perfectly legal"

Epic did their homework on the lawsuit, they make it very clear that Apple and Google are each separate monopolies. Because they have exclusive monopolies over app stores on devices that a large portion of people have. But the Play Store and App Store are not competitors: They control different markets.

Furthermore, Epic helped highlight a very important point about Android and iOS: They're not actually competitors. For an OEM building a phone, Android is the only option, it has a complete monopoly on mobile OSes with respect to the market of OEMs who might choose it.

The supermarket on the corner also has a monopoly on what gets on their shelves, and which persons are allowed to get in to buy their stuff.

I don't think your analogy is making any strong points, because there aren't just two supermarkets in the whole world.

I can choose from 4 different supermarkets within walking distance, and an additional 3 if you count online supermarkets that deliver to my area. That is not the case when it comes to choosing a mobile OS/app store.

I bet each one of them has exclusive products not available on the other ones.

Having more than one to choose from is still an option.

Yes, and I know several of my friends and family who shop in different supermarkets for that reason. How many do you know that have both an iPhone and an Android phone?

Plenty, I am one of them, I am Windows/Android user, and get Apple gear from work.

And I also know a few that still use and buy feature phones with their OEM only apps, with "by invitation only SDKs".

Which makes the choice bigger than two actually, when one looks at the actual market distribution, something that a judge will care about.

are anecdotes data, now? does fortnite run on feature phones? how many cases have you tried in federal court?

As many as the wannabe lawyers in HN driving their Apple hate agenda without any legal understanding.

In technical terms, they're not even a duopoly.

Apple has maybe 25% of the market. I say "maybe", because that percentage is decreasing every day. Especially globally. The reality of the situation is that Google is killing Apple in terms of marketshare. And Apple is eating Google in terms of profit. It's a situation that is a bit unprecedented.

did any of these alternatives also ship google play side by side with alternative stores?

unless a company has a special deal with google, then it's either google or alternatives but not both.

i think the only reason there could be a special deal is that google made some concessions when trying to convince a manufacturer to use android. but that would be an older deal.

Samsung can generally fight for special concessions because they're A. One of the largest OEMs and B. Actually have the technical capability, monetary resource, and customer loyalty necessary to fork or replace Android.

Everyone else has really no choice, and Google gives them the my way or the highway approach.

even samsung is limited. they have their alternative OS, but they are not allowed to support android apps on that OS because that would violate their android license which they need on other devices.

other alternative systems have more freedom than samsung because they are not bound by a license from google.

Samsung has the Galaxy Appstore on their Android devices.

> they have their alternative OS

This is Tizen, and it doesn't support Android apps at all. It's a completely different operating system, so not entirely clear why Sumsung would want Android apps on it.

> This is Tizen, and it doesn't support Android apps at all. It's a completely different operating system, so not entirely clear why Sumsung would want Android apps on it.

It would be impossible to launch a new platform without compatibility for existing apps. There's no way to gain enough developer mindshare to become a serious alternative otherwise.

Jolla had Android app compatibility from the launch in addition to the platform native apps, as they knew that's the only option really.

This is all true, but nevertheless this is what Samsung has done.

If you look at the linage of it (Intel Meego) and the time frame they started it (2011) the strategy of HTML5 support for apps kind of made sense.

Allegedly they are adding .NET support to it?

It is still around and actively developed. I believe it's had some success on watches.


well, samsung had no choice really.

on watches and appliances or tvs the android apps don't matter much so android support is less critical there.

and jolla could do that because they didn't have an android license from google to begin with. tizen coudn't.

ok, i was not aware of the samsung galaxy app store. thank you. i do believe that this is on of their early deals however, and google would not make such a deal again.

tizen needs to support android because the tizen app market doesn't offer everything needed. some important apps are only on android. (namely chat apps for example. without those a phones usefulness is very limited) i had a tizen phone years ago. technically it was very nice, but not even having access to f-droid was a problem.

maybe samsung doesn't care, but as a consumer i do care.

technically it was possible to pack android apps into a wrapper to make them run on tizen. but it had to be done separately. a third-party service could do that, leaving samsung free from violating their android license.

Samsung does have an app store though.

> did any of these alternatives also ship google play side by side with alternative stores?

Yes. Samsung and LG have both.

I think we are missing the point here.

I might be wrong, but this is my take on this. Google has an agreement with OEM not to install any app store. What google objected was not default app of Fortnite. However, it was a Fornite's game store kind of.

Still Google does not object the user to install anything on their phone, though that is getting a bit difficult with Android 11.

TLDR; this article SEEMS to talk about Epic Games App Store, rather than Fortnite.

Basically, if you get Fortnite from the Play Store, you get Fortnite. If you get Fortnite outside the Play Store, you get the Epic Games Launcher, which installs Fortnite. The Epic Games Launcher on Windows was updated into the Epic Games Store, when they added support for third party titles.

So yes, Google put a kibosh on an OEM pre-installing a competing store, not just the game.

Their customers are not your right

For example,you are not forbidden from developing for some random Linux distro

They did not build their trust and ecosystem for free,so you should'nt have access to them for free

30% is not unreasonable,costs can be managed,since you are selling a digital product

"Their customers are not your right"

When did I become Google's property to trade and bargain with? Because it sounds like i didnt buy the phone, Google bought me.

You're not an Android user, you're an Android used.

It's kind of a shame the Ubuntu phone never really materialized. At one point a while back I put off a much needed upgrade from a nearly dead phone for about 6 months because their phone was supposed to be "any day now".

I think the OS is still kicking around and technically not dead yet, but it's really hard to believe that it would be able to break into the OEM side of things at this point. If Microsoft couldn't buy their way in to it I don't see much hope for a group that wouldn't be paying massive amounts of money to handset manufacturers and carriers to support the development & deployment. Though I'd be happy if it were simply possible to flash it onto most Android handsets with full hardware compatibility.

You might be interested in the PinePhone https://www.pine64.org/pinephone/

Here it is running phosh: https://youtu.be/mjaJJ6o-mbM

It's pretty close to being a usable GNOME Linux phone

That's pretty great! I hope it gets some momentum and matures a bit. I don't insist on flag-ship level specs & polish, but this it looks a little rough around the edges for my taste.

> Their customers are not your right

> For example,you are not forbidden from developing for some random Linux distro

> They did not build their trust and ecosystem for free,so you should'nt have access to them for free

> 30% is not unreasonable,costs can be managed,since you are selling a digital product

If only Microsoft had been smart enough to demand a 30% cut of Netscape sales instead of going through all that trouble to create IE.

You're not quite seeing the point: This is not a developer trying to use their ecosystem for free, not in the OnePlus example: This is a developer saying "Thanks but no thanks, we'll choose a different ecosystem"

And Google inserts itself into the relationship between the business partner for that other ecosystem and bullies them into cancelling the deal.

Off course it's important to keep in mind that as of right now, we have only Epic's highly self-interested interpretation of events, and the truth may be far different. It seems LG for example had a pre-existing contract with Google to not do the sort of thing it was about to do with Epic.

It's also worth remembeting that contracts forbidding bundling by OEMs got MS into antitrust trouble in the 90s for locking BeOS out of the market.

Ah, that's right, and excellent point!

It's all negotiation on a grand, publicly viewable scale

Reminds me of how Microsoft would make deals with OEMs to only sell PCs with Windows on them, and how that, among other things, was used against them in their antitrust suit 20 years ago.

And because of the great effectiveness of the American government, MS lost their dominance in the PC operating system market and rank nowhere near the top five most valuable companies in the US like they did 20 years ago.

The suit wasn't about their dominance in the PC operating systems market, it was about anticompetitive behavior to maintain that advantage against competitors, and anticompetitive behavior to gain advantages against competitors in other markets.

Had the suit came earlier, we would not have been blessed with the decade of security vulnerabilities that plagued the desktop because Internet Explorer was tightly integrated with Windows, and perhaps Netscape would still be around, along with Be Inc.

It definitely was about MS forcing OEMs to pay Windows license fees for every PC they shipped whether or not the PC ran Windows.

It was also about the the productivity software market and the lack of interoperability

And browser bundling.

And the lack of interoperability with MS’s network stack.

MS had to make minor concessions on all four fronts.

In a world where OS/2 failed, Be wouldn’t have a chance.

The biggest irony to Microsoft’s anti-competitive OEM practices is that they were unnecessary. The network effects of software compatibility proved sufficient to maintain their dominance.

And their temporarily successful attempts to dominate the browser market failed to turn the open standards web platform into the Windows platform’s greatest competitor.

OS/2 failed partially because Microsoft not only made it more expensive for OEMs to ship OS/2 since they still had to pay a licensing fee, they also didn’t give IBM early access to Windows 95 like they did other OEMs. OS/2 actually ran Win 3.1 apps better than Windows 95. I sold IBM PCs running OS/2 at Radio Shack in 1995.

The network effects of software compatibility proved sufficient to maintain their dominance.

Before that point it was common for software to be ported to all the major platforms, so I don't think that caused their dominance, it just helped reinforce it.

You didn’t own a Mac back then did you?

By 2000 there were only two major platforms for desktop operating systems - Macs and Windows.

I'm thinking more DOS era. E.g. all of the different Another World ports.

The DOS era was the Mac era. The Mac came out in 1984. It didn’t see a whole lot of ports.

Because of the effectiveness of the US government, MS wasn't able to behave anti-competitively and other platforms were able to take root. Today, MS is still one of the most valuable companies in the world, but the overall technology landscape is more diverse.

It's hard to say for sure what would have happened without the antitrust case, but from where I sit, the government accomplished exactly what they set out to do, and just about everyone has benefited as a result.

So exactly what did a the government action have to do with

A) Facebook becoming a dominant social network? 10 years later?

B) Apple’s resurgence with first the iPod - it’s not like MS didn’t try repeatedly to compete (Plays4Sure, Zune) and then the iPhone? Again nothing that the government did stopped MS from losing its early lead in smart phones.

3. Google from becoming the most popular search engine.

4. Amazon from becoming dominant?

As far as the landscape being more diverse, Microsoft and Apple still have about the same split in PC operating systems, Google and Apple have about the same split in mobile operating systems as MS/Apple. And now instead of IE being dominant and Netscape being an also ran, now Chrome is just as dominant and Firefox is an also ran - funded mostly by Google.

Meet the new boss...

I'm not disagreeing, but it was a very specific thing that hobbled the antitrust result against MS: the DOJ had won, and then the 2000 election ushered in the Bush Administration. Nine months later, the DoJ decided to abandon seeking a breakup of MS, instead pursuing a toothless negotiated settlement allowing some competitive software presence and better documentation of APIs. It wasn't generic gov't incompetence; it was a specific policy decision by a Microsoft friendly administration.

You mean an administration from the same party as the current administration?

Even worse, the current administration is more concerned about “bias against conservatives” than consumer rights.

You say it like it’s a bad thing. Perhaps if MS had remained so all-powerful, we would not have seen the rise of other US companies, including Google. If Google lost its monopoly stranglehold on Search and mobile, what interesting and useful innovation might emerge?

So an anti trust schedule that ended in 2001 stopped Google’s emergence during the same time period when they had to convince people to come to their website using IE? You could say the same for FB, Amazon and Apple’s resurgence. None of them were helped by the government’s actions.

How do you know? Had MS remained all-powerful, perhaps those entities may not have emerged. That’s the justification for anti-trust legislation. But if you like your markets saturated with monopolies, you’re in luck. The world is full of them and under the current administration anyway, they aren’t going anywhere.

It’s easy.

Google - came to dominance on top of most people using IE. The consent decree did not stop MS from entering the search engine business and there was no indication that the federal government would have stopped them from buying Yahoo if Yahoo had accepted their offer v

Apple emerged from going almost bankrupt by selling music players. MS tried repeatedly to get in the music player business - partially by leveraging Windows Media Player and failed. MS was also early in the smart phone market and failed - not because of government intervention.

Amazon - how did anything that the government do against MS help Amazon?

Facebook - Facebook became popular almost a decade later when no one was worried about MS.

What exactly do you think the government consent decree did that helped any of those companies?

"Google prohibitions on bloatware hurt bloatware deal, claims bloatware vendor"

You mean like how my phone shipped with Google music and Google duo, two discontinued services but with applications i now can't delete?

Do you mean Allo? Duo is very much not discontinued.

It’s telling how Google has so many chat services and so many discontinued services that we can’t hope to keep track of them all.

Do you have any idea how much utter garbage Google forces vendors to ship with a phone simply to have access to a web browser and the Play store?

Or perhaps you're one of the lucky few who haven't been woken at 4am to an urgent notification:


Prohibitions on bloatware, my arse!

Which apps specifically do you classify as "utter garbage"? Looking at my OnePlus, I can't see anything I'd call that. The most annoying part is that I can't completely uninstall Duo and Chrome, but neither one is on a garbage level, I just prefer alternatives. Otherwise... I think I used pretty much every other default app.

I've disabled the vast majority of Google apps that ship with the phone:

- Chrome: privacy related, not necessarily garbage, but if the OS were Chinese we'd effortlessly call Chrome's behaviours spyware. I use Firefox

- Photos: random single-touch dialogs offering to enable sync. This is upsell and another opt-in data grab. Also the source of the aforementioned ITS 4AM WAKE UP AND HAVE A DELETE MEME PARTY notification. I use f-spot but I'm not a huge fan of it

- Messages: can't remember. Probably another notification thrown up without warning. I use Pulse now

- Maps: where to even begin? The app has about one UI element left that actually relates to navigation and the rest is some disguised Google Shopping link. I use the paid version of OsmAnd where possible

- Gmail/Accounts: phone book data-grab. I use Outlook

- Gboard: still using this. Still very aware its forwarding my keystrokes to the mothership for "contextual prediction" or whatever you call it. If Gboard were published by TikTok rather than Google we'd have sent some folk to the electric chair over it already

- Play Services: mandatory back channel to the mothership with root access on your phone. Can wake it up, force install something that listens to you, or update itself to force you to click on WHO adverts^W^W^W^W participate in informational and beneficial COVID-19 contact tracing, so much more

Probably forgotten quite a bit. Mandatory Games app IIRC? That would have been disabled on the first day

I've had Android phones exclusively for at least 8 or 9 years, use Photos, and have no idea what you mean by the DELETE MEME thing. What is that?

Pixel 3a.

Google assistant.

You can't disable it without breaking other things. You can't disable the shortcuts that open it without unnecessarily regressing the rest of the UI. It's bound to "swipe up from a corner" which is an action you accidentally perform on a semi-regular basis. It's utterly and completely useless (to me).

You can literally disable it by setting the assistant app to "None".

Really? Where do I find that setting? I've looked, hard. Edit: Found it - I wonder if this is new or if I missed it when I got the phone - thanks!

Doesn't stop it from being bloatware...

This feature has been around since Ice Cream Sandwich, released 2011


> Certain "System" apps (particularly those pre-loaded by carriers) that cannot be uninstalled can now be disabled. This hides the application and prevents it from launching, but the application is not removed from storage.

Disabling google assistant broke various unrelated features.

What I just found out I can do above is change the "Assistant" default app from being "Google Assistant" to being none - which stops the stupid swipe in the wrong way and it grabs focus and the bottom half of the screen "feature".

Edit: And to be clear this doesn't remove all the places Assitant pops up, just the most annoying one. It still has prominent placement in the "system" settings for instance.

Are you sure you disabled Google Assistant (via one of two settings) and not the "Google" app which contains significantly more functionality than just the Assistant?

Understand that I played with this a year ago, so my memory is a bit hazy.

I believe that what happened was was after looking for any way to disable just assistant (e.g. under the "Assistant" system settings option) and not finding any I have up an tried to disable it at the app level. At the app level I saw (and still see) only a option to disable all of Google.

It probably did not occur to me at the time to check the default app settings.

> via one of two settings

I only found the default apps way, what is the other?

Ah, sorry, I should have been paying better attention.

Been there since Assistant APIs became a thing in Android 6.

You can also disable Google app to stop it from running. You'll lose the other services it provides though.

Deep integration with Assistant is one of the main selling points of Pixel devices. New assistant features come to Pixel first, sometimes only work with Pixel, and the device has been built to have as much integration with Google's services as possible.

There's plenty of bloatware on phones these days, especially with the rate Google kills apps, but I can't honestly consider the Assistant integration with a Pixel phone to be one.

The whole reason I bought a Pixel is Google Assistant, so calling it bloatwear seems a stretch.

Also it doesn't seem bound like that on my phone.

> Also it doesn't seem bound like that on my phone.

Iirc it is enabled when you set System->Gestures->system navigation set to gesture navigation? I recommend setting that for the superior ui it provides.

My experience with the stock Android experience from Pixel phones is a dream of zero bloatware. What I hate is the bloatware that nearly every handset maker puts on their phones, and the additional bloatware wireless providers add on to it, almost none of it uninstallable.

How its dream of zero bloatware when Google itself adds tons of Bloatware starting from Play Music, Books, Duo, Drive what not.

I am even ok shipping them by default and giving an option to uninstall. Any app which I cant uninstall is Bloatware.

Don't forget that Google embedded Duo into the Google Play Framework so even if you disabled or uninstalled the app, people could still call you via Duo.

Google did this with Google+, immediately rendering my Nexus One obsolete because I didn't have enough storage for the framework :( the update basically bricked the phone. Even uninstalling literally everything possible wouldn't fix it.

I miss that phone so much.

You mean Google enabled E2E encrypted calls to every Android device?

That sounds like a good thing. Duo is still pretty much the only E2E encrypted video call app that also works on the web.

Stock Pixel, at the very least, is _packed_ with Google apps that you cannot fully remove.

Projects like Graphene/Copperhead/Lineage are built off AOSP which has no Google apps.


The developer of GrapheneOS seems unhinged. Accusing Mozilla of orchestrating 4chan and all that. [1] I don't trust it's stability.

1 - https://twitter.com/DanielMicay/status/1264528965127024644

Hmm.. Doesn't seem relevant to the quality or longevity of the project.

People often seem surprised when I tell them I sleep withy phone on silent and / or in flight mode.

I believe I can even set some numbers to ring through silent, haven't tried it though.

Sleep is precious.

Typically I sleep with the phone charging in a different room. Is that weird?

I'm trying to parse if you're going after OnePlus, because they build pretty solid phones.

Now of we we're taking about carriers we'd have a different conversation but as someone who's seen a lot of the mobile industry OnePlus is pretty decent on the bloatware in my book.

Lots of the HN crowd are Apple only users and their last Android experience was a 2012 Samsung so that's their point of reference.

Also, HN is also mostly American where carrier bloatware is the norm on Android, something I never saw in Europe.

It seems that those days are gone.

Their recent Nord phone shipped with the full and uninstallable Facebook services suite (1). In a forum post(2) they claim it was done to improve battery life and performance. Reading about this Fortnite launcher deal makes me doubt the honesty of that claim even more.

A few months ago they also started pushing strange and invasive system apps to my OnePlus 6T like "OnePlus Zen Mode", "OnePlus Game Space", their own custom File Manager which - in India - even sent data to a Tencent server for some strange file cleanup functionality that could not be disabled (3)(4)!

I love my OnePlus 6T but writing this out made me realise how distrustful and wary I've become of this company that has access to a huge part of my life through my phone.

I'm now seriously considering replacing this device way early in its lifecycle. No idea what brand to turn to next though.

1. https://www.androidpolice.com/2020/08/05/oneplus-is-poisonin...

2. https://forums.oneplus.com/threads/allow-user-to-choose-whic...

3. https://forums.oneplus.com/threads/petition-against-file-man...

4. https://www.androidpolice.com/2019/05/07/oneplus-6-6t-users-...

Edit: Added link 4.

If it really was prohibitions on bloatware, Samsung would be the first to know.

Interesting that AT&T and Samsung can collude to pre-install AT&T and Samsung bloat on my Galaxy S7 Edge Android device, but Fortnite couldn't collude with OnePlus to pre-install bloat?

(Yes, I see that the carrier and the #1 Android phone seller are involved in one case and not the other, so the Samsung bloat is the more interesting case. If OnePlus were to write its own bloat-ware or acquire/merge-with Epic, would they be allowed to pre-install?)

AFAIK they can pre-install Fortnite. Not, EPIC app store, which was what the deal seemed to be about.

This headline seems sensationalist to me. Google simply enforced its Android/Play Store Terms of Service, which have restrictions on apps being able to sideload other apps on devices that also have the Play Store. This is because if one of those other apps is infected, users don't know whether it came through the sideloaded apps or Play Store (which is supposed to virus scan all apps). You can argue all day about whether Google should be allowed to charge 30% of revenue for providing the value of the Play Store and Android, but seems pretty straightforward that if you sign the ToS, then sign a conflicting deal with an OEM, Google saying that that won't work is not exactly "forc[ing]...to decimate a deal".

why aren't they like, suing sony for not letting you sideload games on playstation or nintendo for not letting you sideload games on the switch

Not Epic, but this has actually happened.


Didn't Tengen actually end up winning in the end?

It's easier to own multiple consoles than it is to own multiple phones. And hey, maybe that's next.

Because they might actually be able to win this one.

That's some aggressive rent seeking right there.

It’s kind of funny how negative/angry people are in the comments section right now, when the similarly ongoing discussion currently happening with Apple[0] has such a large set of apologists and adamant defenders. Cognitive dissonance much?

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24146987

Do you imagine that a significant percentage of HN people support the position of exactly one of {Apple, Google}? Give us some credit, please.

I know that decimate is a colloquialism nowadays but I feel like a publication should know better. Unless Google asked for ten percent of the proceeds or something, as a headline it makes absolutely no sense.

Looks like you're completely incorrect. It's not a "colloquialism", it's just a standard modern meaning of the word. From Merriam-Webster [1]:

> 3a: to reduce drastically especially in number

> cholera decimated the population

> Kamieniecki's return comes at a crucial time for a pitching staff that has been decimated by injuries. — Jason Diamos

> b: to cause great destruction or harm to

> firebombs decimated the city

> an industry decimated by recession

[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decimate

To "decimate" a deal still just sounds bizarre. I don't know, maybe it's because "deal" isn't countable or collective.

"to kill, destroy, or remove large parts of" is the modern usage.

the usage is hyperbolic; it is not nonsensical.

English obscures it a little, but note that verbs in your sentence apply to "large parts of"; differently stated: "to destroy a great number or proportion of".

Decimate means quite specifically to remove or destroy a _portion_ of something, rather than simply to destroy something, even in most modern usage.

I know it's hyperbolic, I just consider it on the same tier as "x person DESTROYS y person".

Not quite as bad as "that is LITERALLY the worst thing ever"

It's not a colloquialism, it's its modern definition. The meaning of a reduction of 10% is just historical. Meanings do change, and this one has a long time ago.

I have only ever seen this usage by people pointing out that this is what it “actually” means.

It would be pretty interesting if all Google had asked was to reduce the apk size by 10%.

Omg, user story “decimate the binary by next release”

As part of our TOS, we will triple-decimate your app fees.

Google triple-decimated Epic's earning potential.

Why hasn't a business approached F-Droid or other App stores to bridge a gap between Play and Android?

Many OEMs ship their own stores (Samsung, Huawei, etc.) which gives them a piece of the pie. Is that what you mean by business?

Approaching F-Droid probably isn't very desirable when the point of the store is to not profit from software.

Hardware/OS vendors should not be allowed to include app stores out of the box, much less prevent sideloading.

We'd be nowhere near where we are today if PCs couldn't run Linux, and earlier PCs couldn't run whatever you wanted from a floppy.

The fact that consumers are lazy and stores are easy shouldn't prevent decisions beneficial to everyone.

I have no idea who’s less wrong, Google or Epic, but I’m not sure I like your idea.

Smartphones and PDAs existed for couple decades now, I’ve got a first PDA in 2000 or so. For many years before iPhone they were very niche products

I’m not sure we had the explosion in popularity (followed by technical improvements of both hardware and software) had it not be the financial incentive from paid content, initially music, apps followed a year later. Hardware design, software development, and marketing are all very expensive, someone had to pay for them or the smartphones would stay being niche products for geeks and corporations.

If what you wrote in the comment would become a law, this would remove motivation to do investments like that.

Would be especially bad for game consoles. The hardware is often sold below the costs in the start of each lifecycle, then technical progress catches up bringing costs down, and vendors are getting their profits. Stores help as well. The strategy ain’t gonna work if the app.store is not linked to the hardware, as soon as the HW costs are down other people would offer compatible hardware for less money. Hardware compatibility within generation is another hard problem to solve.

About Linux, when Torvalds made it, PCs were expensive tools for business and engineers. If you’re a businessperson or engineer, you have access to comparable tools with smartphone hardware. Search the web for “qualcomm snapdragon single board computer” and you’ll find many. There’re even affordable options now, I have 2 single-board computers on my desk next to a bunch of other hardware, both were under $100.

>If what you wrote in the comment would become a law, this would remove motivation to do investments like that.

IPhone sales are profitable as they are, and always were.

Of course not having iOS walled would lower their profits, but that's the whole point, as this profit comes from a detriment for everyone else. Android allows sideloading, yet making those phones is still reasonably profitable.

PCs were expensive tools way before Linux, and it would stay that way if not for IBM were able to protect their walled garden.

> IPhone sales are profitable as they are

The numbers don’t add up.

Apple sold 6 million of iPhone 1 in 2007-2008 season before app.store launch. Assuming the average price was $550 that generated $3.3B turnover.

According to rumors spread by Bloomberg and other sources, Apple spent $2.6B on R&D of iPhone 1 from the moment the initial research began. Not a good business at all, this means Apple paid most of manufacturing and marketing out of their pocket.

After the app.store, apple was able to sell 100 million of iPhone 4 over 2010-2011 season. That’s more than order of magnitude difference. That increase in volume is what allowed Apple recuperate initial R&D costs, earn good profits, and increase their spending on R&D of new products by more than an order of magnitude since 2007.

I’m not sure people would have bought 100 million of iPhones 4 if you could run same apps on equally performing hardware that’s twice cheaper.

By "before" I mean "before you account for royalties from the app store. Of course you wouldn't expect R&D to pay for itself in the first year.

Apple doesn't rely on the royalty revenue to make iPhones profitable (and shouldn't be allowed to).

App store being exclusive to Apple is the main reason why people are buying these devices.

Without that lock, Apple wouldn’t be able to sell $500 worth of hardware for $1500, in huge quantities: https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/how-much-does-it-cost-t...

Very few apps are ios-exclusive.

Do you think that the ability to use other stores would make iphones less valuable for their users?

> Very few apps are ios-exclusive

Many cross-platform apps work better on iOS, due to lack of fragmentation.

> Do you think that the ability to use other stores would make iphones less valuable for their users?

Initially, I answered to this: “Hardware/OS vendors should not be allowed to include app stores out of the box, much less prevent sideloading.”

Now on your new question, yes, I think this may actually happen, here’s how.

If such cross-platform third-party store would be allowed, and would gain traction, many developers gonna stop writing native iOS apps for 2 reasons: development/porting is expensive, and Apple taking their cut from sales.

Apple’s app store has rather strict policies about software quality in general, malware, user’s personal data choices, even battery use (years ago I’ve developed for iOS on my day job). Apple won’t be able to enforce equivalent policies for other stores. For one they can’t technically do that. Even if they could, they are not going to get paid for moderating apps on other stores. Currently, they collect their cut from sales, and collect money from developers for developer program membership. These 2 sources of income pay for these reviews.

Therefore, quality of apps available on iOS is going to decline. Along with security: it’s very hard to design a secure system where users are allowed to run arbitrary native code, the only somewhat reliable way is hardware-assisted hypervisor. Being able to enforce policies by reviewing and rejecting apps helps a lot with that, among other things these policies forbid usage of private APIs or running downloaded code.

I like the idea, but then you have specific-purpose hardware like game consoles, although they're becoming more general purpose devices so I see them less and less as an exception.

But there's still other devices like Fitbits that I'm not so sure about.

It's just the same with consoles, the manufacturers sell them at a loss knowing they'll recover from game tax.

Which is why PC games outnumber console games by a huge factor. Walled gardens are everyone's liability.

Most of these devices could run general purpose siftware just fine if it were not for artificial roadblocks added by the manufacturer.

That is an historical accident because IBM wasn't able to sue Compaq due to their clean room reverse engineering, and they tried to kill PCs with their PS/2 architecture reboot.

Oh my, now Fortnite's lawyers can add conspiracy and racketeering to their lawsuits, how juicy.

But Andy Rubin told us....

  the definition of open: "mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make"

He's been gone from Google for six years, so I don't think we can paint him as a hypocrite or going back on his word over this.

EDIT: In fact it was around the time Android was changing a little bit away from its open source roots that Rubin was sidelined out of the Android division and into robotics, shortly after which he quit.

October 2013...

“Google's iron grip on Android: controlling open source by any means necessary”


It is super worrying that in the 7 years nothing really changed for better in this regard, with Google only making things even less open and removing more user control.

And this was very much when Rubin was still at Google.

He was still at Google, but sidelined from Android into the robotics division, shortly after which he quit. Sure, it's speculation, but perhaps it was precisely because he disliked and objected to the direction Android was taking. Of course the timing isn't proof, but this article was written at nearly the exact time that he was shifted off of Android.

He disliked the direction Android was going and then started a company to sell Android phones?

Plenty of people don't like Microsoft very much but still develop software for it or hardware to run it on. OEM's have had a rocky relationship with them over the years. Rubin may simply have wanted to work on what he saw as an excellent direction for mobile hardware, and Android was about the only option for the OS.

Regardless, my point stands: At the time that Android was undergoing this shift, Rubin was moving away from Android. Without specific evidence of his seal of approval on a more closed-source Android, painting him as a hypocrite amounts to malign assumption. Without evidence to the contrary, giving a benefit of the doubt doesn't seem unreasonable.

So which time in Androids history was Google’s services like the Play Store and Maps part of AOSP and didn’t have to be separately licensed with conditions?

That really doesn't go against what I said: At that time anyone could still fork Android, and if they wanted the open source versions of apps replaced by closed source ones they could use the source code for those old apps were perfectly serviceable alternatives to the closed-source ones Google replaced them with. In fact the article mentions two very prominent examples of successful break-aways of Android from Google: Amazon's devices and some made for the Chinese market.

So my point stands: As of Andy Rubin's departure, Android was very much an open OS.

So if you wanted to sell a phone in China, where you couldn’t use Google Play Services anyway, or you were one of the world’s most valuable companies who could afford to rewrite all of Google Play dependencies, you were set?

Are you also as lenient about iOS? Since the core of it is open source? WebKit?

The EU doesn’t agree with you. They ruled against Google for its practices. Google wouldn’t let a manufacturer both sell a phone using an Android fork that didn’t used Google Play Services and sell a phone that did.

So it's groups with a lot of resources that have the most successful Android forks, so what? What do you think it takes you wanted to start up a new business based on a custom version of Linux? That's a pretty hard market to break into also, but that doesn't mean Linux isn't an open OS. So yes, it makes plenty of sense that deep pocketed groups are the ones that have been most successful at it. There's plenty of other good examples of Android fork too-- less notable sure but certainly popular in some circles: There was Cyanogen, its successor LineageOS, Paranoid Android, Omnirom, GrapheneOS... there's more if you want to go searching.

The EU's issue with Google has nothing to do with whether or not Android is an open system: Their issue with Google is that Google was trying to stifle competition. In fact the precise issue there arose because Android can be forked. The fact that Google tries to stomp on competition doesn't change that. It's no different than when Microsoft did similar things to stop OEM's from offering desktop Linux: It didn't make Linux less open.

And you know very well that iOS isn't in a similar position to Android in this respect. You can't fork iOS, never could, certainly not the way you could with Android earlier on, and not even like you can now. Parts of iOS derive from open source, but it was never an open source OS. Also it's strange to bring up WebKit, which has been successfully forked a number of times.

So Google cared about “openness” with Android, but as soon as a manufacturer took advantage of its “openness”, Google threatened them? You don’t see this as “openness in name only”?

Would you be okay if Apple threatened companies that forked WebKit on other devices that they were forbidden to list their apps on iOS?

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