Google is demanding more from Android, local OEMs in trouble?

Zack Chapepa Avatar


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.

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  1. @n0n

    Lots of proclamations without citing.

    Alot of what you say is your opionion not backed by fact.

    1. Zack Chapepa

      hi, @anon

      Thanks for your comment.

      That is the same reason why there’s a rhetorical heading. Everything is still up in the air and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t speculate. Isn’t that what actually opens our eyes towards what happens in the future?

      And please feel free to point out where there happens to be any gray areas. I will gladly respond to you 🙂


  2. Tindo Mutoko

    This is why the Replicant project is so important:
    Replicant is a fully free (free as in freedom) Android distribution running on several devices,
    a free software mobile operating system putting the emphasis on freedom and privacy/security.

    What is Free Software

    “Free software” means software that respects users’ freedom and community. Roughly, it means that the users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. Thus, “free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer”.

  3. Tindo Mutoko

    Free software was the original “open source”. It was the GNU project of the FSF started by Dr. Richard Stallman. The problem was that a lot of people were confused, thinking free means no cost cash wise. It actually means free as in freedom but a lot of the time the software is free to download ( well most of the time )..

    Then Eric Raymond came along and renamed Free Software and called it Open Source.

    It’s the RMS vs. ESR battle 🙂

  4. Jack Siziba

    The local OEM’S can switch to third party ROMS like. Cyanogenmod. My Samsung Galaxy S1 is running Android Kit Kat 4.4 despite Samsung claiming it only deserves Gingerbread and can’t handle anything better. Installing ANY Google apps is entirely optional on these. You can happily live without Gmail, Maps, Play Store etc if you like. Google may want to monetize android by installing paid for third party apps as standard. If you root a device you can uninstall everything including the dialer app, camera app, etc and replace them with others of your choice. I am sure there are enough bright sparks there that will solve this

  5. BEN

    Its time for local OEMs which are the majority of Android’s market to start switching to “free” OS called windows phone, it may be Proprietary software, but its way less restrictive unlike Google, OEMs apps can be pre installed on the windows phone and can be deleted freely by user and hardware is relaxed and less restrictive in most counterparts, you can port your QUALCOMM android hardware to the windows phone, since all windows phones use QUALCOMM snapdragon chips only.