Why Google will remain Samsung’s default search engine
Reports surfaced yesterday that Samsung is considering replacing Google with Bing as the default search provider on its devices.
However, these concerns may be unfounded.
Samsung can’t drop Google as the preferred default search engine due to Google’s Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA), at least not in the US.
Google’s MADA requires all Android Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to preinstall and default to Google Search.
Smartphone manufacturers that refuse to sign the MADA, such as Huawei, cannot use the Google Play Store and the Android platform.
Andreas Proschofsky, editor at Der Standard, clarified the situation on Twitter.
Why Samsung can’t delete Google
Proschofsky emphasizes that most countries mandate Google search as the default search engine, according to MADA.
Android OEMs must sign an agreement called the Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA) if they want to be licensed to use the Play Store and other Google apps. This includes a set of rules which – in most countries – includes setting Google search as the default.
— Andreas Proschofsky (@suka_hiroaki) April 17, 2023
Proschofsky’s thread continues:
“Android OEMs must sign an agreement called the Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA) if they wish to be licensed to use the Play Store and other Google apps. This includes a set of rules which – in most countries – includes setting Google search as the default.
If you don’t, you simply won’t get the Play Store and other Google apps. You may or may not like that. Or even find this highly problematic. But that’s Google’s permanent rules in exchange for making Android and its services available for free.
So if Samsung were to switch to Bing, that would mean: no Play Store, no Gmail, no maps, no whatever. So basically the Huawei route. I doubt Samsung wants that.
Now for that “most” country reference, things are a bit different in Europe and India, as regulators have removed this default search requirement. But that also means that a “switch” from Samsung to Bing wouldn’t mean much.
In all of these countries, users are presented with a mandatory search engine selection screen during the setup of Android devices. So there is simply no longer a standard to switch to.
So where did this rumor come from? It could be a simple misunderstanding. It could be Samsung trying to 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 this is just speculation, nothing else. What is not speculation are the license terms for Android OEMs. So don’t hold your breath because Bing will soon be the default search on Samsung devices.”
What else is in Google’s MADA agreement?
Google’s MADA agreement (PDF link) sets out strict terms and requirements that Android OEMs must comply with, including the following important provisions:
- Devices may only be distributed if all Google applications are preinstalled (MADA Section 2.1).
- The phone manufacturer must preload all Google applications permitted in the respective territory on each device (MADA Section 3.4(1)).
- The phone manufacturer must place the Google search and Android Market client (Google Play) icon at least in the space immediately adjacent to the default home screen. All other Google applications must not be placed more than one level below the top of the phone (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 pre-installed 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 the default search provider in the US.
The Google MADA ensures that Google search remains the main search engine for most Android devices.
A switch could happen in places like Europe and India, where the rules are different. However, it is not expected to have such a large impact on Google’s market share.
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