Hard to Find – Google + Samsung, Mobile Application Distribution Agreement

I figured this was worth posting. It took me some time to track it down. I wanted it to be more publicly accessible. So here you go. Compliments of Benjamin Edelman.

Google & Samsung, Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (PDF)

Google & HTC, Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (PDF)


The agreement is basically a laundry list of “dos and don’ts” for licensing Google apps. The terms at the time covered the “Set-up Wizard, Google Phone-top Search, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, YouTube, Google Maps for Mobile, Google Street View, Contact Sync, Android Market Client (not products downloaded from Android Market), Google Voice Search, and Network Location Provider.” The “Android Market Client” has since been renamed to the “Google Play Store,” and “Google Phone-top Search” is referring to the Google search widget. Google uses the term “Phone-top” to mean the main page of the home screen. The agreement has no doubt changed since these documents were signed, and the document states that Google can change many of these requirements at any time. Many more Google applications have come out since 2011 that seem to be part of this mandatory apps package, like the Google Play content apps (movies, music, books, etc.), Google+, Google Play Services, and Chrome.

The most important clause states that “Devices may only be distributed if all Google Applications… are pre-installed on the Device.” Google apps are an all-or-nothing affair. If you want Google Maps or the Play Store, you must also take things like Google+ and Google’s network location provider. There are two tiers of Google apps, the primary ones listed above, and “Optional Google Applications,” a list which includes “Orkut, Google Goggles, Google Earth, Finance, News & Weather, Google Buzz and Google Voice.”

The agreement places a company-wide ban on Android forks, saying OEMs are forbidden from taking “any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android” and specifically disallows distributing or encouraging a third party to distribute “a software development kit derived from Android.” Google has full control over the countries its apps are released in and distribution methods used to distribute the apps. This allows Google to restrict its apps to the Play Store and will keep them out of competing stores like Amazon and Samsung. Google also stipulates that the Google apps must be distributed free of charge, and they cannot be modified, reverse engineered, or used to make a derivative work, and ads are not allowed to be placed in, on, or around Google’s apps.

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