How Google forces Android phone makers to use its apps

The Mobile Application Distribution Agreement, or MADA, is a deal that applies to phone and tablet makers that want to use Android applications such as YouTube or Gmail. Among other things, the MADA requires phone makers that want one of the Google apps to install all of them.

It’s all or nothing.



  • Dmitri

    open always wins!

  • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

    Seems reasonable.

    • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ kyron

      why? what if im a handset maker that wants to use android, including the Play store and Gmail apps, but i also have an exclusive deal w/ Vimeo to use their app on the front screen of my device. how can i do that with the MADA? my only option is to eschew all android apps (including Gmail) which isnt good for my customers but is good for google. yet — wasnt the quoted purpose of android to provide choice? to provide freedom from one dominant force (iOS at the time)? this doesnt seem to jive with that.

      not a great situation, but one the handset makers will put up w/ because theyre too lousy at programming their own apps.

      • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

        Your Vimeo scenario is exactly what is possible right now. There is nothing keeping an ODM from doing such a thing.

        My wife said she wanted an S5 so I just came back from T-Mobile an hour ago. When I turned on the phone the home screen had Lookout and a couple other non-Google apps there. They could have easily put Vimeo there. It also prompted me to register or sign into Dropbox, which is a deal they made w/ Samsung, during the setup process.

        So you attempted to provide a scenario MADA prevents but you explained exactly the state of Android under MADA.

        This isn’t iOS. Android is about choice.

        • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ kyron

          i think you misunderstood my MADA example, so let me be more specific — in my hypothetical deal w/ Vimeo, then dont want to share the front screen w/ YouTube. they want to be front and center, and YouTube to either not be there or be stuck in the back someplace — which the MADA forbids.

          try again.

          • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

            No, MADA doesn’t prevent that entirely. It prevents removing YouTube but not having it tucked in a folder or in the app tray.

            No misunderstanding. Your example is simple stating what Android allows. Your adjustment only has one change to it: removing YouTube [which no use would want].

          • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ kyron

            nope. the MADA doesnt allow me as a handset maker to hide their app icons deep wherever i want:

            The 2011 agreement, for example, requires that the “Google Phone-top Search and the Android Market Client icon must be placed at least on the panel immediately adjacent to the Default Home Screen” and that all other Google apps “will be placed no more than one level below the Phone Top.”

            …thats control. the very same sort of market-dominance control that android’s creators said they were trying to negate by releasing android (as counter to iOS).

          • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

            You do realize Android, depending on the variation, has multiple screens and your Vimeo app can have the prime spot right on the 1st one? YouTube can be gone.

            Google Play [the Market Client] and Search rules don’t apply to other Google apps.

            You’re bonkers thinking this remotely comes close to iOS control.

    • http://twitter.com/matthewwanderer Matthew

      This is a natural continuation of our earlier conversation about Google.

      Since you don’t see the MADA as an “open” 180, in your opinion, at what point in the process of taking control of Android would Google cross the line?

      Preventing Android forks in the future?

      Limiting deployment to only certain manufacturers?

      • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

        Google forked Android. They customize it to their liking and provide their services. How is it an “open 180″ if it is the same exact thing they’ve been doing from the beginning?

        Yes, if they prevent Android from being forked, that is a gross violation of the open nature of Android. If they stop letting ODMs customize Android and force them to use Google’s home screen, etc, I’d mark that as another gross violation.

        This though? Nope.

  • Tvaddic

    I feel like this story comes out every 6 months

    • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

      They keep trying but fail every time. It’s sad to see such silliness from otherwise smart folks.