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Google loses control over Android

19 September 2010 | Posted by: M Anthony | File Under: Technology | | 31 Comments


Verizon installs on its Android device the Bing search engine. That’s the price Google is paying for openness.

American cellular operator Verizon, one of Google’s senior partners in spreading its mobile operating system, Android, started selling the Samsung’s S Galaxy smartphone last weekend. But the coveted device arrives in Verizon with a substantial difference: Google’s search engine was not installed in the device, and instead Microsoft’s Bing was installed.

American technology blogs were surprised b the dramatic change. After all, one of the most significant features for users is of Android is Google’s search engine, who also developed Android for the same purpose – to take over the mobile search domain.

On the iPhone 4 iOS , for example, the default search engine is Google, Bing and Yahoo are offered as alternative search engines. But on Verizon’s Galaxy, Bing is the only option. Moreover, the Galaxy will not be the only Android in Verizon with Bing implemented in it – others will follow due to an agreement signed with Microsoft in late 2009. Later in the week it became apparent that in an a coming update the device will be installed with Google’s search engine, but Bing remains the default.

Allegedly, it stands in total contradiction to the openness and freedom that are the bread and butter of Android. But it is becoming apparent, that it is not about freedom from users, but the operator’s freedom to do as they wish with the devices they market. Unlike the iPhone, dominated by Apple solely, each operator can put in the Android an advertising application that cannot be removed, replace the search engine without the possibility of change, and even implement a competing application store.

In most cases these are measures that damage the users experience, but this week it became clear that Google itself is not immune. And the worst part of it – it can’t do anything about it, if it wants Verizon to continue to sell and promote Android devices. Most of them, hopefully, will contain the Google search engine. Still, even the search giant needs to make something out of the free OS it developed.


  • jordangsu said:

    Google allows competition on their platform, and competition is a good thing. I personally do not use the search widget…usually end up opening the browser, where I have google as my homepage. Every verizon customer will still have this option. As more customers rebel and insist on finding ways around using Bing and MS maps, VZW will be forced to give up this lucrative deal with MSFT and actually give people options. I’ve got a feeling that in the long run this will drive more people to Google than Bing

  • Deon said:

    Why so surprised? AT&T did the same thing w/ the backflip and yahoo maybe 6 or so months ago. It’s open-source, it can be changed. I can’t believe Verizon though, the biggest advertiser of Android phones just back-stabbed Google like that by secretly signing an agreement with Microsoft in 2009, that’s business I guess.

  • ro said:

    so what is your point? Google’s infant monopoloy is preferable to Microsoft’s aging monopoly?

    Personally I find the irony delightful.

  • Anonymous said:

    “That’s the price Google is paying for openness.”
    “And the worst part of it – it can’t do anything about it”

    Google said 2 years ago Yahoo may build a Yahoo Android phone including Yahoo search, mail etc.
    If at all it’s suprising it took so long for someone to take the offer.
    It’s simply the price you pay if you want to be a de-facto standard like windows.

  • Scott said:

    Ha ha, funny title. Not unlike writing “Microsoft loses control of Windows” because they allow OEMs to customize Windows installations and add their own software.

  • Evan said:

    I don’t see how installing Bing instead of Google is against openness. If anything it shows that Android is totally open. You can still change the search to Google, so who cares if it starts with Bing. If anything this is like the European anti trust lawsuits against MS over the IE browser. Perhaps they should just allow for the choice when you first start up the phone.

  • Jay said:

    Well, I have been looking for a new cell company, and Verizon just lost out. I hate Bing with a passion, and refuse to use it EVER. It is the worst search engine around, and is getting even worse as they develop it. If someone tries to force me to use any one search engine, they are out of the running.

  • Tubsturtle said:

    Well how about that!

    Should create a few support jobs somewhere.

    We need more of this kind of thing.

    Perhaps I could order a Jag with a Porsche engine.

    Could start a new trend.

    Lets call it Twit week.

  • lfarbes said:

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive”. Google Rules–back off BING!

  • chase said:

    i wish that you could use it with a mac

  • ADbntly said:

    Never like bing search engine. Tried it and always going back to google. good thing that Android is available on more than one device. If I were to go with Android I would pick the one that allow me to choose my own default search engine.

  • Required said:

    Google’s control is gained by technological and market leadership, not by medieval barriers imposed by the likes of Apple & Microsoft. Let’s not forget, people LIKE to use Google.
    Surely, people who buy Android phones would be only too eager to kick Bing out asap.

  • mickeysoft said:

    This is a scare tactic article. Google left it open for all, if it had made choices then it is not OPEN for all. In fact it is all subscriber’s choice who they want to stay. If I don’t like the way Verizon is doing, I get out.

    Ultimately is the user’s choice…

  • Impartial viewer said:

    “But it is becoming apparent, that it is not about freedom from (sic) users, but the operator’s freedom to do as they wish with the devices they market.”
    “In most cases these are measures that damage the users experience, but this week it became clear that Google itself is not immune.”

    It seems petty to imply that users are being harmed by the inclusion of Bing as the default search engine without explaining why you believe this move reduces their freedom and damages their experience.

    Bing is a solid alternative to market leader Google, who enjoys a near monopoly in the search market. Remember that the anti-Microsoft sentiment that some people have because they want choice in the desktop market can equally be applied to Google in the search market.

    More options and freedom of choice is a good thing. Competition brings benefits to users.

  • SAJP said:

    “Verizon installs on its Android device the Bing search engine. That’s the price Google is paying for openness.”

    Yeah but you can choose ‘iGoogle’ in the browser — not many waste their time with Bing, esp since Bing’s regional/international localization is way dumb, ineffective, MS-centric, and thus largely impractical.


    Don’t believe Google can do no harm. Google has done plenty of harm to the internet.

    The internet use to be free of chartfunk advertising. Google ads has raped the commons, spewing garbage ads all over websites en masse that never were cluttered with them before, all for the promise of a few pennies given to website owners.

    Just look at YouTube. Everyone celebrated the buy out of Youtube by Google who was flush with cash. But as soon as it happened, I knew bad things were in store. First they’d take soft measures to exploit it, and then as time wore on, these would become more invasive. Now any Youtube video you click to watch, you have to sit through a paid advertisement before the video will start. You can thank Google for that.

    As a hardcore geek in the early days I use to advocate Mac, and Google, until these companies went crooked and started screwing their users.

  • Jerry said:

    Sort of makes me not want to pursue a device on Verizon… I am not impressed by Bing… but I am less impressed with Verizon screwing around with android… At the very least, the search provider should be optional and user selectable… I choose not to use Apple because they are so controlling… Verizon is about to make that list also…

  • Superman said:

    “Bing” is TOTAL crap; even the name itself is moronic. The simple fix is that I’d NEVER buy an S Galaxy–or any other phone that didn’t come installed with the Google search engine. In this case, Samsung is the ultimate loser.

  • BenR said:

    This was already explained. If the phone is being marketed as a Droid (ie. X, 2, Incredible) then it says ” With Google ” and ships with their software as the default but if it’s not marketed as part of the Droid brand on VZW then their contracts stipulate that it has Bing on it as the Blackberry’s do. This is a sad attempt at ginning up a controversy that was beaten like a dead horse on every Android site when the Fascinate was released. Also, with the 2.2 update the user can install all the Google bits if they wish. And if one uses the root that was released DAY 1 then one can also get rid of Bing if one so chooses.

    This is a non-issue and if Google was “losing control” then you just won the law suit Skyhook has against Google for Google. :) Can’t have a monopoly if there is no monopoly, eh?

  • red_flair said:

    Some one had to feed sorry for microsoft, and use their lowly bing. Open source will prevail no matter what happens to google, android and such. Unix/Linux is growing despite the media saying otherwise. There is other search engines outthere that work very well and are going to come of age some day and you will wonder what happened to google, bing, ask and so forth. 10 years from now people will wonder how in the world did we get along with such archic technology.


  • Scott said:

    Bing is the default search option for all pc computers out of the box, and yet most people end up using Google. Mainly because Google has a better product.

    If Verizon and others start trying the same lock-in the cell companies have been using for so long, people will begin moving. They’ve tolerated it for a long time, but most are tired of it now.

  • shawn smith said:

    And its just this type of behavior that was the reason I left Verizon years ago. When they had the technology to play MP3 and Blue tooth. They want to FORCE end users to do things their way. Well I am not going to PAY them more money for things that should be included free.

  • max said:

    Google really hasn’t made too many mistakes and this defiantly isn’t one… I mean look at the growth of android

  • Steve said:

    [i]“Allegedly, it stands in total contradiction to the openness and freedom that are the bread and butter of Android.”[/i]

    I find it funny how easily the “tech” community is led by the nose by the word [b]open[/b]. Google formed the OHA with the concept of an [i]open[/i] OS for carriers and handset makers to use. It was never designed to be open for the end user. Of course Google hoped that most carriers and handset makers would happily be led to the slaughter house and use Android unchanged and ceed all control to Google. Google knew the techies that think they know something but don’t would worship Android for being [i]open[/i] without understanding what open means. Oh well.

    Then users would have no choice. Handset makers would have no choice. Carriers would have no choice. All under the guise of “open”.

  • Ian said:

    Why is having Google Android “open” a bad thing for Google? Yes, you’re right – maybe Verizon and other cellphone carriers are taking advantage of its openness, but, in no way, does that mean Google is loosing. The basis of Google Android was to create an environment where developers and cellphone carriers could do ANYTHING with the operating system, for the good or for the bad of Google. That is the mission of Google.

    Ultimately, Google Android is a REVOLUTION. People will realize that cellphone carriers can NOT do this to them. Cellphone carriers like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile cannot force their consumers into 1 search engine. That is the Apple way. Google Android, by continuing to allow carriers to alter their operating system as they wish is a win for Google and for consumers in the long run.

    @jordangsu is right about EVERYTHING that he says. In the long run, as stated in my post, consumers will realize the cellphone carriers do not have the power to do this – and, they will revolt – and it is already starting NOW.

  • Jake said:

    Verizon’s decision to put Bing on their phones is an evil, yet tactical business decision. The Android operating system is the “great equalizer” of the mobile carrier industry, giving all the carriers full-featured phones that blur the technological lines between Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.

    As long as Google remains “open” with their platform, the leading carrier’s position as top dog is threatened due to technological parity of smaller carriers who can push out similar phone feature-sets with their own android models.

    Including Bing on the Android platform is Verizon’s way of punishing Google for being so open, because a closed platform doesn’t pose as much of a threat to Verizon, the nation’s largest carrier.

  • Throx said:

    Haha, but users have their own choice, no big deal. We are not forced to purchase a bing phone.

  • Mouse said:

    Google search is has and always will be available on the android market… So no you don’t have to use bing and furthermore there are options to change which application you want to be default for anything.

  • Chris Ellis said:

    Of course all these shenanigans are about one thing and one thing only – the pot of gold called online advertising. What happens if this pot of gold simply disappears? This is about to happen and will cause a seismic shift in the future development of the Internet – post-Google.

    The ad-supported Internet is DEAD! Long live the OPEN, FAIR & FREE Internet! Post-Google Internet

  • jojo said:

    It doesn’t matter that much for 2 reasons. With the next update of Android OS Google will be included from the choices of engine. Also with Google Instant to be incorporated into Google Search this fall, people will use Google anyway.

  • sam said:

    Thats the beauty of open source software. Verizon only wants to offer the customer more options and they are free to do that. Customers are also free to not buy it if they don’t want bing. I see no problem with it.

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