A Look at Google’s Not-Always-Secret Contracts With Android Phone Makers
Google’s arrangements with Android phone makers have been all over the news in recent weeks, showing up first in the Apple-Samsung patent trial and then again this week, in a consumer class-action suit.
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.
Other terms include the requirement that Google search be the default and specifics as to where the Google search box and various applications are placed in relation to the home page. 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.”
Google also agrees as part of the contract to legally indemnify device makers for their use of the apps, an issue that cropped up in the current Apple case, with Google agreeing to cover Samsung’s defense of at least two of the five patents that Samsung is accused of infringing.
Those that don’t want to use Google’s apps can just use the open source version of Android which has much less restrictive licensing terms.
The agreements cited in the class-action suit date back to 2011 and cover Google’s pacts with HTC and Samsung. They were made public as part of a trial between Google and Oracle.
Google declined to comment on how the MADA has evolved since then, but the company has definitely been increasing the number of apps that are included as well as taking other steps to ensure the prominence of its apps.
Obviously, Google is not alone in having contracts with hardware makers that use its software.
Microsoft, for example, has this to say about the use of other search providers in Windows Phone.
“By default, the only search provider included on the phone is Bing,” Microsoft says. “The search provider used in the browser is always the same as the one launched by the hardware search button. However, in certain markets OEMs must specify a different search provider as the default search provider for Windows Phone ”
Here is Google’s 2011 MADA with Samsung:
And here’s the one with HTC: