When you buy an Android phone, you would normally expect Gmail, Google Maps, the Play Store, and the rest of the Google software suite. However, this may no longer be the case in Turkey. After a dispute with the country’s anti-trust authority, Google has told its partners that Google apps for phones in Turkey will most likely be discontinued.
Turkey opened the investigation after a complaint from the Russian search and postal operator Yandex. Google’s problems in Turkey came to a head in September 2018 when the country fined 93 million lira ($ 17.4 million). That’s pocket money for Google, but the fine wasn’t the problem. Together with the fine, the Turkish competition authority ordered Google to allow device manufacturers to include alternative search engines.
Google has made changes to the way Google Apps are licensed in Turkey. However, the country’s regulators have decided that this is not enough early last month. Google has worked with the competition authority to find an alternative, but has not yet found a solution. For this reason, Google assumes that licensing of Google Apps will have to be stopped soon. Turkey has fined 0.5 percent of the company’s sales per day until the problems are resolved. However, she has 60 days to contest the judgment.
While Android itself is open source, Google’s revenue-generating apps and services are not. Without a Google license, device manufacturers cannot bundle the Play Store and Google Play Services, so users only have the option to download software from third-party repositories. In the meantime, a company like Yandex could offer its services to OEMs who no longer have access to Google’s proprietary software.
The good news is that existing Android phones in the country will continue to work and updates will be received. Turkey does not block Google services to China. Consumers can also import phones from other countries that have Google Apps pre-installed.
Google is still in communication with Turkish competition regulators and hopes to be able to work out a deal. Android device manufacturers may delay some phone starts and then continue as if nothing had happened. However, it is also plausible that Google will not reach an agreement with the country. In this case, OEMs have to start cell phones without the Googley bits.