This afternoon, we came across a report from The Guardian which stated that Google might be licensing out Google Mobile Services, or GMS, to OEMs for use on their phones. They stated that they may be charging at least one OEM as much as $0.75 per device shipped. Which would cost the OEM about $75,000 on a shipment of 100,000 phones or tablets. Which isn’t a ton, when you think about it especially compared to Microsoft. Who gets about $15 off of every Android device shipped, which in-turn brings in about $2 billion for Microsoft. For those that aren’t aware, there are two separate parts of Android that OEMs use. There’s the Android Open Source Project, which is the code for building Android for their device. Then there’s the Google Mobile Services which is closed source, and gives manufacturers the right to include the Play Store, Gmail, Google Search and other Google apps on the device out-of-the-box.
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Google, today, confirmed to 9to5Google that this report from The Guardian was untrue. Google has always had, and probably always will have, certain steps for an OEM to get their device certified with Google to get Google Mobile Services on their device. As 9to5Google points out in their article, it could entirely be possible that The Guardian’s sources are related to an arrangement with Google, but the search giant doesn’t charge OEMs specifically for access to Google Mobile Services on their devices. Another part of the Google Mobile Services is Google Play Services, which has become pretty popular over the past year. Mostly because Google is able to push all kinds of new API’s into the Google Play Services “app” and bring certain updates to all Android devices running Android 2.3 and up without pushing out an OTA. Which is a pretty huge deal on Android seeing as the OEMs and carriers are responsible for the updates and not Google (except on the Nexus line). So it appears that Google indeed does not charge OEM’s for Google Mobile Services, which is a sigh of relief, since Android is an open source platform, and that’s not all that “open”.