AT&T removes Google search from Android

After years of being known as the carrier that has the iPhone, next week, AT&T will step out of its shell into the world of Android. The number two carrier in the U.S. will launch the Motorola Backflip on March 7th. The smartphone is set to cost $99 with a two year contract.

Initially, what set this phone apart was its interesting form factor and behind the screen trackpad. However, Engadget's Chris Ziegler points out something a little more strange about the Backflip in his hands on video (see below).

"Yahoo has replaced Google as the default search provider throughout the phone. It's crazy: the home screen widget, the browser, everything's been programmed to use Yahoo."

Android is Google's open source operating system. Google search and services are tightly integrated into the OS by default. They are the core of the phone's functionality. However, AT&T decided to go out of their way to strip the search feature and replace it with Yahoo. Yahoo. Not Bing, but Yahoo. There seems to be no way to get a Google search widget on the phone. It's mind-boggling.

Perhaps AT&T has a vendetta against Google. Either way, they're really slapping Google in the face. Taking advantage of a free OS which Google has opened up to the world, and then removing their search functionality from it is a ballsy move. Some rumors even suggest that other AT&T Android phones may have Gmail, Maps, and all other Google services removed. AT&T would then replace them with its own apps.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Charlie Miller: Windows 7 + IE 8 or Chrome provides safest computing experience

Next Story

Google begins rolling out website redesign

37 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Stop worrying everyone.. Who cares.. How many people do you think will actually buy this phone? another crap Motorola device. No offence to the Droid.

This should only bother you if you buy it. There are so many other phones that have better Andriod options that this !.

If there are no Google apps, then there is also no Google Market... The Google Market app is not open source, it is Google supplied, not to mention the apps ties to your Google account.

This would imply either the author is wrong, or AT&T also wants to control your access to programs.

bkfist said,
If there are no Google apps, then there is also no Google Market... The Google Market app is not open source, it is Google supplied, not to mention the apps ties to your Google account.

This would imply either the author is wrong, or AT&T also wants to control your access to programs.

No Android Market == FAIL

This is a comeback Google didn't expect.... I wonder why Google is making so many enemies lately. Previous all time lovers like Apple and Firefox now hate Google... maybe because they are a backstabbing company, that first uses others to promote their search engine and the next day they make browsers, phones that directly compete with their previous partners.

In the past, Google haven't really had any competitors outside of advertising and search, but in recent years they've branched out into other markets and started nipping at the heels of all new competitors.

In the past, Apple and Google had a good relationship because they didn't compete, then Google released android, and became a competitor. The same applies to Mozilla, since they were friendly (and to an extent still are) until Google released Chrome to compete with Firefox.

AT&T aren't really competing, they took the source code and stripped out any Google services in favour of Yahoo, which they are allowed to do as-per the fact that it's open source. This probably hasn't got anything to do with competing with Google, its likely that Yahoo! made them a better offer, or that they don't have to pay Yahoo! royalties to add their services to the phone.

Majesticmerc said,
In the past, Google haven't really had any competitors outside of advertising and search, but in recent years they've branched out into other markets and started nipping at the heels of all new competitors.

In the past, Apple and Google had a good relationship because they didn't compete, then Google released android, and became a competitor. The same applies to Mozilla, since they were friendly (and to an extent still are) until Google released Chrome to compete with Firefox.

AT&T aren't really competing, they took the source code and stripped out any Google services in favour of Yahoo, which they are allowed to do as-per the fact that it's open source. This probably hasn't got anything to do with competing with Google, its likely that Yahoo! made them a better offer, or that they don't have to pay Yahoo! royalties to add their services to the phone.

A. Nothing was stripped out because the Andriod OS is not tied to Google. Hence Google licensing.
B. AT&T probably didn't get an offer from Yahoo considering the two companies are still attached at the hip. (SBC Yahoo DSL)

http://dsl.sbc.yahoo.com/

NeoandGeo said,
For not at least giving a choice. Yahoo should be the last thing anyone is using. It's not 1998 anymore. :p

Uh google started in 1998? Don't put google on it either based on your logic?

Nightwind Hawk said,
Yahoo... haha, nice. What a failure this product will be.

The majority of phone users out there aren't the minority of tech savy people who visit this website you know? I know quite a number of people who can use BB's and smartphones in general but know next to nothing about PC's. Those people don't give a flying **** what search provider or email app is on a phone, they probably won't even use the email and some of the other stuff.

The fact is, most phone owners still use them to do the same things, calls, sms/mms, and music. Only now are more starting to go online as well, but look at the % of phones sold and look at the % that are online. It's not 1:1.

Not a big deal, to be honest. I'm sure the functionality of Google Apps could be added back in if the user so chooses to do so, and you should be able to switch the search provider back to Google if you wish with a few simple steps.

I think too many people are misunderstanding Android. There are no Google apps, or tie ins in the Android project. All the Google stuff (i.e. gmail, youtube) is seperate from the platform. That means, if someone is to take the base Android source, they have to add stuff to it. AT&T has decided to add Yahoo stuff instead of Google. I don't see the problem.

MrA said,
I think too many people are misunderstanding Android. There are no Google apps, or tie ins in the Android project. All the Google stuff (i.e. gmail, youtube) is seperate from the platform. That means, if someone is to take the base Android source, they have to add stuff to it. AT&T has decided to add Yahoo stuff instead of Google. I don't see the problem.

Exactly, people forget that the OS and the google stuff ontop are different. That's why Android "With Google" is licensed by Google and they get a cut. Motorola probably made a better deal with Yahoo for their search etc compared to google, so out goes ones apps and in comes anothers.

In that sense, you could even see Android with MS Live apps/services and it wouldn't make a difference.

GP007 said,

Exactly, people forget that the OS and the google stuff ontop are different. That's why Android "With Google" is licensed by Google and they get a cut. Motorola probably made a better deal with Yahoo for their search etc compared to google, so out goes ones apps and in comes anothers.

In that sense, you could even see Android with MS Live apps/services and it wouldn't make a difference.

In this case there probably wasn't even a question of a better deal. AT&T are still tied together with Yahoo. SBC Yahoo DSL was part of the AT&T stuff that was all tied together.

It's more of a catch-22 here.. AT&T is a subsidiary of Yahoo (or is it the other way around? I can't remember with all these name changes!) so I can understand them modifying the OS for Yahoo.. But at the same time, it's.. Google's OS.

ZOMG THE MIND, IT BOGGLES.

Cupcakes said,
It's more of a catch-22 here.. AT&T is a subsidiary of Yahoo (or is it the other way around? I can't remember with all these name changes!) so I can understand them modifying the OS for Yahoo.. But at the same time, it's.. Google's OS.

ZOMG THE MIND, IT BOGGLES.

It's not really googles OS, they just offer it up with their own services/app tie-in and license it to the carriers. In that sense if you want android with all the google stuff on top they do get paid for that. If you just want the OS itself which is open source, then you are free to take it and put whatever apps/services you want on it, google has no say in that at all.

GP007 said,
It's not really googles OS, they just offer it up with their own services/app tie-in and license it to the carriers.

Ah, I was always under the impression that Android was always a project done from Google and wasn't that Android wasn't a stand-alone OS.

Motorola needs to really just give up on making phones or steal some product designers from HTC. How am I supposed to use a touch pad thats on the back of my screen??? REALLY???? IDIOTS!

sk8bit said,
How am I supposed to use a touch pad thats on the back of my screen??? REALLY???? IDIOTS!

Flip it over, hence; Motorola Backflip.

Edited by Wanderermy, Mar 2 2010, 7:24am :

david13lt said,
You buy hardware, format the phone, put the latest release of Android. That's how it is going to be.

You obviously don't have an Android phone... the manufacturers don't make it that simple!

I think as long as you can change the search if you chose to, it's not a big deal. However, removing google applications in total? this may prove to be a mistake depending on the market they're aiming at.

A lot of people use google apps on a daily basis, especially mail, and removing this could prove to be a costly and $59 prepaid binning for this product.

/- Razorfold said,
That phone is hideous...It looks like a badly made child's toy.

Wtf were they thinking?

They were thinking the same thing that they were thinking when they stripped out Google services. Why give people a product that would be REALLY useful, when they can act like Apple and control every aspect of their service to the extreme and limit people's use of the phone they paid hundred(s) of dollars for.

vaximily said,

They were thinking the same thing that they were thinking when they stripped out Google services. Why give people a product that would be REALLY useful, when they can act like Apple and control every aspect of their service to the extreme and limit people's use of the phone they paid hundred(s) of dollars for.

I meant Motorola, but yeh that bit was stupid as well.

Taking advantage of a free OS which Google has opened up to the world

so what? there is nothing in the license that says they can't do that. In fact they could alter it as much as they want and still release it as android or something a whole other name. Either you are open source or you aren't, but don't start complaining about people altering stuff in the source you released (not saying that google is complaining)

XerXis said,

so what? there is nothing in the license that says they can't do that. In fact they could alter it as much as they want and still release it as android or something a whole other name. Either you are open source or you aren't, but don't start complaining about people altering stuff in the source you released (not saying that google is complaining)


Yeah, but Yahoo? Really?

Also

There seems to be no way to get a Google search widget on the phone. It's mind-boggling.

Surely the user should be able to choose. Why remove the choice?

nevann said,

Yeah, but Yahoo? Really?

Also
Surely the user should be able to choose. Why remove the choice?

When Google services are the default everything on a android phone can you get a yahoo search widget on there? If there is one that is? I'm just saying that it does really work both ways doesn't it?

Over here (México/Telcel) my Dext has also Yahoo as the default search engine...

So I don't think it's AT&T...