Europe

The Specter of Fragmentation is Back

Google’s compliance with the European Commission’s decision on the Android antitrust case risks increasing market fragmentation and costs for developers and consumers

 

Contact: Michela Palladino - michela@developersalliance.org

 

Brussels – App developers and publishers are an economic engine in Europe and globally. In support of the two million Europeans whose jobs and livelihoods are intertwined with the App Economy, the Developers Alliance is closely following today’s announcement regarding how Google will comply with the European Commission’s Android decision.

The Commission’s decision challenged clauses in Google’s Android licenses. As Bruce Gustafson – President and CEO of the Developers Alliance – explained in July, these clauses have led to an open and accessible platform, which “has strongly benefited developers and consumers over the years.  Thanks to market stability and reduced costs, developers have been able to focus on bringing new and innovative products to consumers.

The Alliance understands that Google plans to comply by altering contractual requirements in its partner agreements while seeking to maintain an open and attractive Android ecosystem.  As required by the decision, Google will allow its partner phone makers to develop phones in the EEA based on incompatible versions of Android while also selling similar handsets using compatible versions.  

Google’s compliance with the decision raises anew the specter of fragmentation. There is a risk that diverging versions of Android will lead to devices where apps don’t work for users. Developers may also need to do costly rewrites of apps for multiple incompatible versions. Google’s efforts to limit this sort of fragmentation have led to a better platform for users, developers, and phone makers.

The Developers Alliance hopes that clear labelling will help to reduce the potential for user confusion between compatible and incompatible Android devices.  

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The Developers Alliance is the world’s leading advocate for software developers and the companies invested in their success. Alliance members include industry leaders in consumer, enterprise, industrial, and emerging software development, and a global network of more than 70,000 developers.

 

 

On-the-record quote: “There is a risk that diverging versions of Android will lead to devices where apps cost more to develop and may not work for all users. Google’s efforts to limit fragmentation have led to a better platform for users, developers, and phone makers. The Developers Alliance hopes that clear labelling helps to reduce the potential for user confusion between compatible and incompatible Android devices.” – Bruce Gustafson, President & CEO, Developers Alliance

 

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Developers Alliance joins other stakeholders calling for caution and urgent consideration on the tackling of illegal content

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Developers Caution European Commission Against Fragmenting Mobile Market

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Contact: Michela Palladino - michela@developersalliance.org

BRUSSELS -- Today the Developers Alliance, joined by dozens of mobile application developers, sent a letter to the European Commission cautioning against actions that could fragment the mobile ecosystem, reduce competition by raising costs for developers and consumers, and undermine Europe’s success in the global digital economy.

The European Commission has been investigating Google’s Android mobile operating system for the past years and could potentially require Google to modify its business practices in ways that would compromise Android’s free, open source model. Such changes, warned the letter, “could adversely impact European businesses and the EU’s global leadership in app economy.” A 2016 report by the Progressive Policy Institute showed that Europe has more than 1.6 million Android developers, nearly the same number as the United States[1]. In addition, Android apps created by European developers are downloaded more than 2.5 billion times per month by users around the world, a significant percentage of the global total.

At stake for developers is a growing global ecosystem, that the app market analyst App Annie believes will surpass $110 billion in 2018, a 30 percent increase from last year[2]. Currently, developers can build applications on Android that are seamlessly integrated into 24,000 unique Android devices made by 1,300 brands. Such diversity allows application developers to reach 2 billion users in 190 countries.

But developers expressed concern that changes to Android’s business model “could undermine the consistency of various Android devices, which would be lethal to our businesses,” as “it does not make business sense to develop different versions of our applications for each of the thousands of Android devices.”

Boris Kolev, Vice-President for Business Development at Digimark, a Bulgarian fast-growing mobile app studio, stated: "Relying on an open and secure Android platform is essential for our business. We fear that the European Commission's investigation will have as a result a more fragmented Android, and that will make developing more expensive for clients and harder for us."

Developers believe that the current mobile ecosystem is healthy and competitive, and that free, open-source platforms like Android allow them to innovate and create exciting new products and services.

"Android’s contribution to the open source community has been responsible for the creativity and innovation in the European mobile economy, giving developers the tools and platform to create, and maintain new businesses disrupting traditional market sectors.", said Ash Davies, Senior Android Developer for ImmobilienScout24, Germany's leading digital real estate marketplace.

"Beard Brothers dot global is opposed to measures that risk fragmenting an open system, like Android. We call on the EU to ensure the mobile space is free and open. Europe's digital future and the profitability of many EU businesses, small and large, are at stake. This includes our clients and collaborators in France.", added Adam LG Ring, Co-founder at Beard Brothers dot global, a startup-oriented global digital agency.

The European Commission is expected to issue a finding from this investigation later this year.

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About the Developers Alliance

The Developers Alliance is the world’s leading advocate for software developers and the companies invested in their success. Alliance members include industry leaders in consumer, enterprise, industrial, and emerging software development, and a global network of more than 70,000 developers.