I know I’m a weirdo: I run my own NextCloud, I use Mastodon and Pixelfed but not Facebook, I run Linux (Mint flavoured) on my notebook, and I have UK English as my default spellcheck language (see? “flavoured”). But maybe you’ll still agree with me when I say the EU antitrust decision against Google (which they just appealed while also complying) is an important milestone.
Because yes, now Samsung can start developing their own search, or Amazon can put Play store and Google Maps on their Fire devices… but there’s more, and again, I know I’m a weirdo, but bear with me.
I believe in a future where privacy is more important to people; where the Facebook leaks and election meddling have an effect on how people choose their mobile devices. Not all of them, but let’s say a noticeable minority.
And to these people, with the EU’s decision (or rather the resulting business model change at Google), there is now a world where quality phone makers, and not only the Doogees, and the Cubots, the Koogeeks, you know, TomTop’s and GearBest’s finest, can provide devices without the Play Store.
The way I understand the ruling is that for example a company like HMD Global (I like what they are doing with the Nokia brand) can now offer a good Android One phone with Play Store and all, plus, for the privacy minded, offer a phone with AOSP, without Google’s bells-n-whistles, but also without the tracking-n-ad-targeting that comes with it. So the new thing is: the fact that you want to offer an e.g. privacy minded choice, should not limit you to otherwise offer a “popular” choice as well. You don’t lock yourself out of that market. And better yet, customers could now have options that are quality builds and focus on privacy… and Google can not hinder this with a contract or licanse agreement.
Maybe somebody (-ies) that currently buy a phone just to basically OEM unlock it and install Lineage or some other OS would be interested in basically having the same experience, but without the tweaking and losing your warranty. Maybe the ship has sailed so far in the past 9-10 years towards “lack of privacy as business model” (see also: Facebook) that it’ll be hard to bring it back. But at least there’s corrective action now. Any more would be distorting the market in the other way which would impact competitiveness of the EU I guess (even for this decision I read damning American commentaries), and just wouldn’t be right.
So: we’ll see. I, for one, will welcome our AOSP Nokia and Huawei phones… if/when they become available.