- Android phones in India will receive a version of Google Mobile Services (GMS) that will have optional Google apps.
- The change will be a part of the Indian Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (IMADA) between OEMs and Google.
- IMADA only requires the installation of the Google Play Store and search engine choice at the initial setup.
Android phones in India are soon going to witness some major changes. Tipster Kuba Wojciechowski has uncovered some major changes to Android’s licensing terms in the country after a ruling by the competition watchdog. The tipster claims to have obtained access to Google documentation that shows Android phones in India could be different from global devices. Specifically, Wojciechowski says India will receive a version of Google Mobile Services (GMS) that will have optional Google apps.
This change will be a part of the Indian Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (IMADA) between OEMs and Google. This is different from the regular MADA terms in other markets.
If they decide to use IMADA, however, they can only release the specific device variant in India. If they go for MADA instead, they can release the same exact device (with identical software) to most of the world. pic.twitter.com/BNIF6lJeXQ— Kuba Wojciechowski 🌺 (@Za_Raczke) February 18, 2023
Google’s Android in India
The standard agreement requires the pre-installation of 11 key Google applications, while the IMADA only requires the installation of the Google Play Store. Furthermore, Google will purportedly offer a per-app bounty to smartphone makers who pre-install any of the 11 apps. The Indian agreement doesn’t require smartphone makers to include a Google search bar, Google app folder or Play Store icon on the main screen.
Furthermore, Wojciechowski opines that IMADA will follow Europe by allowing Indian users to choose their default search engine during the initial setup process. This option will apparently land in Q2 2023.
Why is this change happening in India?
This change comes after Google was fined by the CCI (Competition Commission of India) back in October for abusing its dominant position in implementing Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA). This is an agreement that Google made with manufacturers to agree to launch Android devices with pre-loaded Google apps like Search, YouTube, Gmail and others. CCI says that this offers a “significant competitive edge to Google’s apps and services over its competitors, given how vast the Android market is in India.”
CCI in a statement said, “The competitors of these services could never avail the same level of market access which Google secured and embedded for itself through MADA…create significant entry barriers for competitors of Google to enter or operate in the markets concerned.”