A few days back, it was reported that Google may have gone into panic mode since last month as Samsung has informed the company that it may be considering switching to Microsoft Bing for the default search engine on Samsung smartphones. However, it seems like Samsung cannot ditch Google Search for Microsoft Bing, thanks to a Google’s agreement called MADA. Here’s what MADA is all about and how it impacts the Korean smartphone manufacturer, Samsung.
What is Google’s MADA?
As pointed out by Andreas Proschofsky on Twitter, all Android OEMs, including Samsung, have to sign a Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA) with Google if they want to pre-install the Google services, such as Play Store and other Google apps on their phones.
One such rule in the agreement says that the OEMs will have to set Google Search as the default search engine on their respective smartphones. If any manufacturer fails to do so, they simply won’t get access to the Play Store and other Google apps, meaning they won’t be able to pre-install these services on their smartphones.
Another instance of such rules is where Google mandates the OEMs to place “Google Phone-top Search and the Android Market Client icon at least on the panel immediately adjacent to the Default Home Screen” and that all other Google apps “will be placed no more than one level below the Phone Top”. This rule is pulled put from the 2011 version of the agreement and Google doesn’t detail as to how the agreement has changed since.
How does MADA affect Samsung (and other manufacturers)?
As mentioned, all OEMs who want access to Google’s services, which are a vital part of the Android operating system, require to sign the MADA. Now, if Samsung were to switch from Google Search to Microsoft Bing as the default search engine on its phones, it would be breaching one of the clauses of the agreement which in turn, restricts Samsung from even installing the Google Play Store and other Google services on its devices.
In other words, switching to Microsoft’s Bing would result in Samsung dropping support for Google Play Store which is something the company cannot afford. This not only stands for Play Store but for a bunch of other Google services as well.
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Are MADA rules different for anyone?
Yes, MADA rules can be altered according to the country’s law and how the country’s government decides how it should be. For example, Google changed the MADA rules in Europe back in 2018 after it was fined for $5 billion over antitrust laws. As a result, the company had to unbundle Google Search and Chrome from the suite of Google apps that need to be installed by Android phone OEMs in the European region.
Even in India, the government may be working with Google to create the nation’s own MADA which could be called Indian Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (IMADA). In IMADA, Google, as directed by the Indian government, would be required to make all Google apps optional for pre-installation by brands, except for the Play Store.
The standard agreement requires the pre-installation of 11 vital Google apps, according to a tipster, while the IMADA only requires the installation of the Google Play Store. He says that Google will purportedly offer a “per-app bounty” to smartphone makers who pre-install any of these 11 apps.
In February, the tipster further leaked that the Indian agreement also won’t require smartphone makers to include a Google search bar, Google app folder, or Play Store icon on the main screen. He also mentions that IMADA will follow in Europe’s footsteps by allowing Indian users to choose their default search engine while the user sets up his/her device. This option will apparently appear in Q2 this year, which means it shouldn’t be far.
This brings us back to Samsung and Google’s situation, where the former could easily provide Bing as an option for selecting the default search engine in countries with an altered MADA version. It would be their choice whether they want to list Google for setting it as default search engine. Google could make sure they do by paying Android OEMs in such countries to keep Google Search intact.
However, in most countries, Google’s standard MADA is in place, meaning Samsung cannot switch to Microsoft Bing just yet.