Android without Google: Is it possible?

Sergei Terekhov

Written by Sergei Terekhov | Thursday, 13 March 2014

My dear readers, can you imagine your Android smartphone without Google services? As for me, Google and Android are almost synonyms. I’ve got accustomed to Google services on my phone and use them pretty much, e.g. Gmail, Google Maps, Google Play. Of course, all of them were pre-installed. However, I’m aware of the fact that a lot of my private information is available to Google. But I always accepted it as kind of “necessary evil”, or fee for the possibility to use their wide-functional services on my smartphone as really good products of mobile software development. 

But recently I’ve found a very interesting article in the Net telling about an issue that might become a great problem for Google. Consumers of the world's largest mobile phone market in China prefer to choose Android smartphones not from leading manufacturers, but no-name devices – with Google services stripped out. 

We can watch this tendency at the following diagram presenting mobile traffic in the first nine months of 2012. Data consuming from smartphones produced by large corporations like Samsung or HTC are decreasing since December 2011. At the same time, people are using phones from “other” manufacturers more and more. Who are these mysterious “others”?


There are more than 1,000 manufacturers selling devices on Android in China today. Some of them are just imitations of popular Western brands; but a significant part is produced by small nameless manufacturers. I found very impressive that such phones are sold not only in shops, but just by “backpackmen” walking from village to village and selling devices literally from a basket. 

And the point is that the most of them don’t work with Google. All functionality responsible for communication with Google is just missing on such phones. It means that Google receives no information from these devices at all. Just imagine that Google DOESN’T KNOW your location and information you’re searching for. Sounds promising, doesn’t it? 

Actually, I’ve already read some user reviews about these Chinese phones. And surprisingly, they all sound quite positively. Such smartphones are described as reliable and quickly working, with good hardware for an affordable price; many of them have slots for 2 sim cards what is very convenient for many people. And as for missing Google services… I think it is a reasonable way out from Google influence area, even if only partially. Of course, there were already attempts to exclude Google services from Android (like some versions of CyanogenMOD). But I think that a complete system update can be performed only by mobile software developers or other specialists. An ordinary user (like a blonde marketing manager :) ) is hardly able to carry out such operations. That’s why a Chinese smartphone could be an option – if you do really want to get rid of Google in your pocket so badly. 

What may happen if the biggest market in the world will bypass Google? Do you remember how Amazon took Android, said "thank you, Google”, and made its own version of the OS, with a separate content store? And what if other firms like Samsung stretch abilities of their mobile software developers and do the same thing? It is highly unlikely that Google may completely refuse to support Android, but the situation in the mobile industry will be different then.

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