Reports emerged yesterday that Samsung is considering replacing Google with Bing as the default search provider on its devices.
However, those concerns may be unwarranted.
Samsung can’t drop Google as its preferred default search engine, at least not in the US, because of Google’s Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA).
Google’s MADA requires all Android original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to pre-install Google Search and use it as the default.
Smartphone manufacturers who refuse to sign the MADA, such as Huawei, can’t use the Google Play Store and Android platform.
Andreas Proschofsky, Editor at Der Standard, took to Twitter to clarify the situation.
Why Samsung Can’t Drop Google
Proschofsky highlights that most countries require Google Search as the default search engine, as per the MADA.
Android OEMs have to sign a thing called "Mobile Application Distribution Agreement" (MADA) if they want to get a license to use the Play Store and other Google apps. This includes a bunch of rules which includes – in most countries – setting Google Search as default.
— Andreas Proschofsky (@suka_hiroaki) April 17, 2023
Proschofsky’s thread continues:
“Android OEMs have to sign a thing called “Mobile Application Distribution Agreement” (MADA) if they want to get a license to use the Play Store and other Google apps. This includes a bunch of rules which includes – in most countries – setting Google Search as default.
If you don’t do that, you simply won’t get the Play Store and other Google apps. You might like this or not. Or even find this highly problematic. But those are Googles standing rules in return for giving Android and its services away for free.
So if Samsung would switch to Bing that would mean: no Play Store, no Gmail, no Maps, no you name it. So basically going the Huawei route. I doubt that Samsung wants to do that.
Now about that “most” countries reference: In Europe and India things are a bit different as regulators have struck down that default search requirement. But that also means that Samsung “switching” to Bing wouldn’t amount to much.
In all those countries users are already presented with a mandatory search engine choice screen during setup of Android devices. So there simply is no default to switch to anymore.
So where is that rumor coming from? It could be a simple misunderstanding. It could be Samsung trying to do leak PR to get a better revenue sharing deal from Google. And there are definitely OTHER areas where Samsung could put pressure on Google. No doubt.
But all of that is just speculation, nothing else. What’s not speculation are the licensing terms for Android OEMs. So don’t hold you breath for Bing being the default search on Samsung devices anytime soon.”
What Else Is In Google’s MADA Agreement?
Google’s MADA agreement (PDF link) sets forth strict conditions and requirements that Android OEMs must adhere to, including the following key provisions:
- Devices may only be distributed if all Google Applications are pre-installed (MADA section 2.1).
- The phone manufacturer must preload all Google Applications approved in the applicable territory on each device (MADA section 3.4(1)).
- The phone manufacturer must place Google’s Search and the Android Market Client icon (Google Play) at least on the panel immediately adjacent to the Default Home Screen. All other Google Applications must be placed no more than one level below the Phone Top (MADA Section 3.4(2)-(3)).
- The phone manufacturer must set Google Search as the default search provider for all Web search access points (MADA Section 3.4(4)).
- Google’s Network Location Provider service must be preloaded on the device and set as the default (MADA Section 3.8(c)).
The current rules for Android device makers make it unlikely that Samsung will drop Google as its default search provider in the US.
The Google MADA ensures that Google Search stays the main search engine for most Android devices.
A switch could happen in places like Europe and India, where the rules differ. However, that’s not expected to have as significant of an impact on Google’s market share.
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