Android Devices in India Could Soon Ship With Fewer Google Apps

The antitrust case brought upon by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) against Google last year will finally force the tech giant’s hands into amending its software licensing agreements with OEMs in India. According to a leaked report, device manufactures can continue to release Android devices (phones, tablets, etc) in India under the global MADA (Mobile Application Distribution Agreement) licence or opt for the new ‘IMADA’ licence. The latter is said to be the new agreement customised for India where OEMs (such as Samsung, Motorola, etc) can choose to opt out of pre-installing the otherwise, mandatory, 11 Google apps that come with every new Android phone.

It will also not be mandatory anymore to have things like the search bar, folder of Google apps, etc, on the homescreen under IMADA. Users will also be able to choose their default search engine at the time of setting up the phone. Finally, under a section called ‘Indian Placement Agreement’ in IMADA, Google is reportedly setting a “per-app bounty” if an OEM chooses to include one of its apps and have that icon on the homescreen.

Tipster Kuba Wojciechowski (@Za_Raczke) laid out the important details in a recent tweet, and claimed to have access to the relevant document. Under the new IMADA licence, smartphone OEMs are now said to have quite a bit of flexibility as to which Google apps to include, however the catch here is that devices under IMADA can only be sold in India. The app that will need to be bundled would be the Play Store, but everything else such as Search, Chrome, Drive, Gmail, Meet, Maps, YouTube Music, Google Photos, Google Play Movies and TV, and YouTube will be optional, as per the report. Wojciechowski points out that OEMs will still require to include certain “core services” that are essential for Google APIs to function.

Last month, Google issued a blog post where it outlined some of the changes that would be coming to Android devices this year, as a direct result of the antitrust law suit. In October 2022, the CCI ordered a detailed probe against Google for alleged unfair revenue sharing terms with respect to news content, and in the same month, it slapped a Rs. 1,330 crore penalty on Google for abusing its dominant position in multiple markets in the android mobile device ecosystem.

Google’s attempt to block the ruling didn’t pan out, as it even alleged that the CCI had ‘copy-pasted’ the EU’s antitrust order, due to similar wordings. Earlier this month the Supreme Court of India dismissed Google’s plea to modify the final order that was passed.

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