FairSearch.org Claims Android is a Trojan Horse (not the Malware Type)

FairSearch.org Claims Android is a Trojan Horse (not the Malware Type)

I have been a News Writer (among many other things) on XDA-Developers for a little over 3 years and have written well over 1,000 articles. I have covered topics ranging from themes and icon packs, development news, and even some more intricate stories, which have had a much greater reach than I would have thought. I have ranted against carriers, manufacturers, governments, individual companies, and many more. However, even with all that said, I have not yet once wanted to drive my fist through my screen as much as I did when I read this. I have seen dumb, unfounded statements, but this one takes the cake, eats it, and then cleans the plate while having coffee. But, in case you do not feel like reading the “release” itself, I will summarize it for you below.

Fairsearch.org is a coalition group formed by the following companies:

  • Trip Advisor
  • Expedia
  • HotWire
  • Kayak
  • SideStep
  • Level France
  • Foundem
  • ShopCity
  • Twenga
  • AdMarketplace
  • Travel Tech Association
  • Buscape
  • Allegro
  • The Find
  • Microsoft
  • Nokia
  • Oracle

Much like any group of this kind, they have one thing in their mind. No, it is not advancement, development, or the betterment of mankind as they normally claim. It is a much more tangible concept, one that can be counted and that one can easily check by looking in a wallet. Yup… money. If you look carefully at the companies above, you will notice 3 distinct groups of companies involved: Search Engines, Travel, and OS development. Considering that all of the above are getting battered by Google and their services, they seem to have resourced back to the oldest trick in the corporate book: if you cannot beat them fairly and by virtue of your own products, sue them. The group filed a complaint with the European Union (EU) to look into possible anti-competitive practices done by Google through the use of Android. They are claiming that Android equates to the proverbial Trojan Horse used by the Greeks to gain entrance into Troy to end their long conflict. The large wooden horse was presented to the Trojans as a gift, but it was loaded with a payload of soldiers who, upon successful infiltration into the enemy fortress, proceeded to annihilate the enemy forces from within their base.

In this particular case, the Trojan horse is Android itself, as it is free for anyone to use (read: Google does not sell Android). However, the complaint claims that the OS must be accompanied by Google apps for it to be allowed to be placed in the handset(s) by the manufacturer (much like the soldiers were hidden inside the wooden gift). They say that this requirement from Google hinders any and all competitiveness from other companies due to the dominance of the OS and as a result, they are crying foul. They also added a dash/bit about security, privacy of searches, yadda, yadda, yadda… nothing related to what they are claiming as the issue, but really just trying to use anything they can to label Google as a “bad company.” Well, that is pretty much it. They now have the EU looking into possible antitrust and anti-competitive strategies.

I have no words to describe the utter stupidity under which these accusations are based. Google may not be an angel either and God knows they don’t like XDA a whole lot, but this is just plain stupid. Having said this, let us dissect and take apart this argument, shall we?

Google is using its Android mobile operating system as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to deceive partners, monopolize the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data,” said Thomas Vinje, Brussels-based counsel to the FairSearch coalition.

Those are some strong accusations, Mr. Vinje. You are making a rather bold, very specific and serious accusation. Lets hope that you have some facts to support them. Something like, uhm, I don’t know…. evidence? Lets look at what you present.

“We are asking the Commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market.

No, you are asking the EU to act because all of your partners are getting their behinds handed over to them on a silver platter courtesy of every other operating system in existence, including BBOS and iOS (not just Android). Your members  keep on losing market share because of lousy business decisions and complete and utter inability to adapt to a fast paced environment where services and devices need to offer more.

Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system.

So, let me get this straight. Failure to prevent Google from using Google services to grow its market will only encourage Google to keep on using said services to keep increasing their market share? Do you even read what you are writing? That is analogous to saying that allowing me to wash my underwear will only encourage me to keep on doing it, as I benefit from clean clothes.

Google achieved its dominance in the smartphone operating system market by giving Android to device-makers for ‘free.’

No, Google achieved its dominance of the market because it was an open alternative that invited innovation, promoted social and media integration, and served as an interesting alternative to dying Windows Mobile and Blackberry platforms, both of which were getting hammered by the introduction of iOS back in 2007, which is not free and gives Apple sole dominance over their product (yes, there goes your argument about the “free OS being responsible”). Android essentially came in as a new player into the OS minefield to try and add a new option for people who did not want to switch over to Apple and who were tired of waiting for Microsoft to step up a bit (after all, what we currently know as Windows Phone 7 only took Microsoft at least 3 years to release it). And yes, Android is free… problem? Why would anyone need to pay for a license for an OS when there are free, open source alternatives out there? Same case for Linux based distros for desktop systems. Hey, I know! Since your logic seems valid enough, maybe bottled water manufacturers should sue Mother Nature as she is providing water to us for free and as such she has market dominance.

But in reality, Android phone makers who want to include must-have Google apps such as Maps, YouTube or Play are required to pre-load an entire suite of Google mobile services and to give them prominent default placement on the phone, the complaint says. This disadvantages other providers, and puts Google’s Android in control of consumer data on a majority of smartphones shipped today.

Wow! So, AOSP carries a requirement that forces companies to pre-install Google Apps on the devices? Last I checked, Android (core Android) is gapps free. Don’t believe me? Why don’t you try to build a ROM from the AOSP tree. Once you are done and have it booting, we will talk. Android as a whole is governed by two distribution licenses (Apache for the core ROM and GPLv2 for the Linux kernel), none of which requires anyone to include gapps upon building and distributing the OS. In fact, it is the other way around. Manufacturers need permission from Google to distribute gapps. Don’t believe me? Why on God’s green Earth do you think that gapps are not included in AOSP variants such as CyanogenMod? Google essentially told the CM team that they could not cook these in their roms, essentially denying permission to include them in there (ok to be distributed as separate downloads).

Having Google apps in the ROM certainly makes things easier and allows you to jump through less hoops to fully integrate all your digital lives in the palm of your hand. Are they absolutely necessary for the use of the device? Absolutely not.

  • Gmail – Can be replaced with virtually any mail client for Android;
  • Maps – There are 3 hundred options to not installing this, including BING.
  • Search – Same as above…. BING!
  • YouTube – Flash enabled browser… That is all
  • Play – Look for alternative market apps. They exist and they are quite popular (Amazon comes to mind, for starters). Don’t feel like searching for a market app? How about installing APKs by hand?

On that last one, several manufacturers (including Samsung and Sony) offer their own alternative market (Samsung App Store and PlayNow from Sony).

Lastly (on this exert), how are other manufacturers at a disadvantage? Your coalition members also include their own full suite of apps and services in their devices and last I checked, they sure as hell don’t include anything from other manufacturers or even give you the option to disable them/install something else. Have you ever tried to uninstall Bing out of  a Windows Phone 7 device? Or even change it from being the default engine without having to dig through the registry (which requires you to be fully unlocked)? Want to have the Tripadvisor app included in a shipped rom from a manufacturer? Why don’t you sit down with said manufacturer and try to strike a deal that will allow you to have the app included in the final product? That sounds like a far better use of everyone’s time in my opinion. Lets move on…

Google’s predatory distribution of Android at below-cost makes it difficult for other providers of operating systems to recoup investments in competing with Google’s dominant mobile platform, the complaint says.

This is how you sound on this statement: “but we cannot sell our over priced product because there is a cheaper alternative out there. They are evil and must be taken out of the picture so we can profit from this!” Much like you, Google puts a product out there, the only difference being that they are cheaper (not getting into technical differences btw). ANY CONSUMER WITH A PAIR OF WORKING NEURONS WOULD GO FOR A CHEAPER, COMPARABLE PRODUCT THAT DOES WHAT HE/SHE WANTS IT TO DO. IT IS CALLED COMMON SENSE!

Let me twist this for a second, Apple is ALSO kicking your sorry behinds and they are more expensive AND exclusive, closed source, etc. Why are you not suing them for not letting you include the services you are so eager to sell? The fact of the matter is your products and services are lacking, and that is why you are getting beaten to a pulp. Pricing and/or distribution have jack squat to do here. As far as predatory pricing is concerned, that assumes that you are dumping prices or making them low enough to avoid competition. Android (much like any Linux distro) is FREE for consumers because it is developed by people for people.

The FairSearch complaint comes at a crucial time in the Internet’s development, with users increasingly shifting their use from desktop to mobile platforms. Mobile Internet usage is expected to overtake desktop usage as soon as 2014, according to MindCommerce.

And you have the release of Windows 8 to thank for this wonderful feat…

Last but not least,

“European consumers deserve a rigorous investigation of Google’s mobile practices, and real protections against further abuses by Google,” said Vinje. “Given Google’s track record of ignoring the law, mobile Internet users should be very concerned.”

Indeed. People MUST be protected from good quality, feature packed, inexpensive software. People NEED to pay $200 per license of Windows 8 and SHOULD be allowed to shell out yet another $200 when the time comes to go to the next version of the OS (within a year’s time)! And having a track record for a large company on something as serious as anti-trust is an awful thing to have for a consumer oriented company, wouldn’t you say?

In summary, instead of wasting the European Union’s time and Euros that could potentially be used to help solve issues across Europe, why don’t you and your coalition friends get together and try to hash out a better strategy/product to take the market by force? Apple and Google did it and they dethroned both Nokia and Microsoft as king and queen of the mobile consumer world.

Grow a pair, make a better product, and stop wasting people’s time already!

You can find the more in the Fairsearch website.

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[Thank you XDA News Writer SammiSaysHello for the tip!]

About author


I have been an active member of xda-developers since 2005 and have gone through various roles in my time here. I am Former Portal Administrator, and currently part of the administrator team while maintaining my writer status for the portal. In real life, I am a Chemical Engineer turned Realtor in the Miami area.