Couch analytics #75. How much does free Android cost

In a crisis, many people try to invest their money and time in more promising areas than those they are engaged in. These people have rich business experience behind them, developed horizons, and often they want to do something in the field of electronics, for example, a smartphone! The idea is not very fresh, but looking at the dominance of B / C-brands on store shelves and their sales volume, one might get the impression that the market is able to digest a dozen more companies. Hence, it is quite a natural question, why not become such a company. This is usually how I get to know these people and explain the basics of the market, how it works and why the emergence of another brand of smartphones is not such a great idea at all. Someone takes advice and listens to them, someone believes that they are being fooled in favor of existing players so that a young and aggressive company does not destroy someone's plot from which they collect gold bars. Everyone has their own ideas about the world order, which have a very indirect relation to reality. But almost every one of these people knows for sure that Android is a free operating system, it can be used by any manufacturer and there are no payments for it. I take my hat off to Google (now I should probably take it off to Alphabet as well), they managed to convince a huge number of people that Android in all its variants is free. And now I have to prove things that are not at all obvious from time to time. Let's see together how much Android costs for different companies and why it cannot be considered free for manufacturers.

Armchair analytics #75. How much does free Android cost

Manufacturer Android Options - Three Paths

Before the conflict between Yandex and Google in Russia, few people in the market thought about what versions of Android as a platform from Google exist. The court debate drew attention to this issue, but did not add order to the minds of people. Let's reiterate the obvious and describe what options electronics manufacturers have to choose which version of Android to put on their devices. So here are the three Android versions:

  • The basic version, it does not have any services from Google, the functionality is minimal, the music player is implemented very ascetically, as well as other services. There is no support for the app store, it is officially impossible to install the Google app store on such a device. Google does not impose any hardware requirements in such devices, take it and use it as you like. There is no interaction with Google.
  • Version with Google services, including the app store, Chrome, YouTube, Gmail and more. It also includes development tools and, as a result, support for most applications created for Android, which makes compatibility simple and effortless. It is also distributed free of charge, but requires signing an agreement with Google, in which the manufacturer assumes a number of obligations, we will talk about them later.Often this type of Android is referred to as including a GMS (Google Mobile Services) license, but de facto it is described in another contract - MADA (Mobile Application Distribution Agreement) and is an integral part of it. Below we will talk about this option, since it is the main one for almost all Android device manufacturers in the world.
  • The third option is technically the same as the second, the difference is in the division of income, when the manufacturer undertakes not to install programs that compete with Google services, but in return receives part of the income from advertising or the sale of applications, in each case these agreements are individual.< /li>

Within our history, we can conditionally consider the second and third options to be identical, they do not affect the cost of Android for the manufacturer, except that in the third option, part of the costs can be offset by the profit that the manufacturer receives in the future. But the initial amount of expenses and their types are identical in these situations.

Does anyone need an Android smartphone or tablet that doesn't have Google's app store? The obvious answer is no. All users want an app store to automatically download all their purchases and apps instead of scouring for them. And this is quite a healthy desire. The manufacturer, in order to ensure the availability of Google services, needs to sign an agreement with Google, the same MADA agreement. In this contract, the manufacturer assumes a number of duties and responsibilities, but does not bear any direct costs, does not pay anything to Google. And this creates a deceptive impression that this holiday is paid for by someone else, and the manufacturer can only create tablets or smartphones. But it's not.

Firstly, Google puts forward specific technical requirements for each version of Android, describing how much RAM devices should have, what screen resolution can be, how much memory should be free after download for applications. These are not very complex specifications, but they describe in detail what exactly a manufacturer can create. For example, by signing such a contract, you will not be able to officially release a smartphone with Android 6.x and 512 MB of RAM, as this is prohibited in the specifications. And unofficially, it will be difficult to do this, since you will not be certified by Google. And here we come to the first expenses for "free" Android.

Google has a worldwide network of laboratories that test various devices, the methodology is open and available to every manufacturer. First, you run a test program in your office, it produces results and shows the weak points of the device, if any. This is a check not only of the hardware of the device, but also of how the work of Android itself is implemented, how integration with hardware is performed. If the hardware specifications do not match the minimum possible by Google, then it is impossible to receive GMS services on this device. They will simply refuse you.

Depending on the country and laboratory, the cost of certification varies greatly, in the last year it has dipped a lot, but averages about 10-15 thousand dollars per model (any hardware changes, and you certify again). This is the money that a Google-licensed lab takes to test your device. Based on the results of the check, you are shown weaknesses, critical errors that need to be fixed. For Google, this is an easy way to control the quality of devices, while shifting most of the work to laboratories, consider a third party.

By signing MADA, you automatically deprive yourself of the opportunity to produce both licensed and left-handed devices with firmware from Chinese factories, where there may be a Google app store, but unofficially. In this way, Google brings manufacturers out of the shadows, and the contract gives leverage to put pressure on companies, which they are slowly starting to use.

Of the obvious disadvantages of MADA for manufacturers, I note that by subscribing to these rules of the game, you will not be able to effectively produce small batches of smartphones, for example, a thousand pieces will become gold, since you still have to license these devices and spend at least 10,000 dollars for this process. That is, the cost of each device will increase by $10, which, with the average cost of a smartphone in China at $42, looks like an impossibly high increase.

In the past, and even now, many Chinese factories offered a "left" way to get GMS on smartphones, they connected through local players who registered phones with Google for themselves. Or they didn’t register them at all, but simply adapted the firmware so that the services worked. The cost of the work of these craftsmen ranged from 20 to 50 thousand dollars. That for batches of 5-10 thousand pieces is also a lot. Gradually, such intermediaries are being cleared out, and in the future, "left" smartphones may receive messages on the screen that they do not comply with Google's rules, in a word, manufacturers will be driven into MADA contracts, spoiling their perception in the eyes of end consumers. So far, there has not been a single such case, but Google employees are already openly saying that they do not exclude such a possibility in the near future.

Another indirect point that limits you. The lifespan of certain versions of Android is clearly defined by Google through its work with labs. For example, the deadline to apply for Android 5.x certification was May 15, as these devices can no longer receive certifications as of June 1, 2016. Accordingly, if some cheap smartphones on Android 5.x suddenly appear on the market in October, then with almost one hundred percent probability they did not receive official GMS, and all services were delivered bypassing Google. And Google knows about it.

For Google, this tight control allows it to push the market in the right direction, ensure that OS generations are interchangeable, and also pull device specs up one level. And manufacturers are forced to create devices with a filling no worse than the minimum described in the specifications. I am sure that in the next couple of years, Google will be able to get most companies outside of China to directly certify their devices, and the market will change. This suggests that, one way or another, when creating Android devices, you will have to take into account the cost of their certification before Google.

It should be mentioned separately that in Russia, as in most other countries of the world, there is a local electronics certification process, which can cost from 200 to 500 thousand rubles, depending on the device, terms and other variables. This certification has nothing to do with Google and is subject to local regulations. It should not be confused with Google's certification for Android compatibility and how devices work in practice.

Microsoft Patent Troll - Get Your Money

One day in Beijing, I was sitting on the R&D floor discussing the future models of a Chinese manufacturer when I was asked to come up to the legal department. There was a heated meeting in the meeting, as the company received an official letter from Microsoft stating that Android uses Microsoft intellectual property, which means it's time to pay the bills. It was proposed to give Microsoft 2% of the retail price of each phone, even some calculations were given. Robbery in broad daylight, you can't say otherwise. The letter of happiness caused strange sensations, it did not look sufficiently prepared and justified. Moreover, Microsoft's claims should have been addressed to Google, not to the company that used Android and did not receive the rights to the intellectual property of this platform.

The strategy of this major Chinese manufacturer turned out to be ridiculous, they acted like an ostrich and simply did not respond to the letter. During the year, more than two dozen letters were received, a hundred calls, during which people were speechless and forgot English, and sometimes Chinese. And do you know what happened next? The law firm that sent those letters just disappeared. No lawsuits, no attempts to ban the sale of equipment in any country.

This situation surprised me, especially since Microsoft in 2014-2015 informed the whole world that they had reached an agreement with the largest manufacturers of Android smartphones and they were paying hundreds of millions of dollars for the company's patents. For example, according to Microsoft, in 2013 Samsung paid the company a billion dollars for patents related to Android, which amounted to $3.41 Foton from the device. I was always surprised by this figure, as well as the ease with which Samsung allegedly paid these bills, like other companies. The secret was revealed very simply - those partners who had a joint business with the corporation "paid" Microsoft. The scheme looked surprisingly simple, Microsoft gave a discount on the software sold to these companies, and buyers returned this money as patent payments. It turned out that they, as it were, were paying for patents, although de facto no changes were taking place, Microsoft was simply shifting money from one pocket to another. Microsoft's logic in this story is clear, they wanted to create a precedent, show that large manufacturers pay, and make small and medium-sized factories pay. They even approached Hon Hai, which makes the iPhone, to pay patent fees too! Madmen. Misunderstanding of how the market works in China, how profit is formed on devices and the attitude towards IP, all together played a cruel joke. None of the small and medium-sized manufacturers began to pay Microsoft. An attempt to reduce volume discounts on software was instantly reflected in payments for patents, they decreased.I haven't seen any contracts on this topic, but they're obviously crafted in such a clever way that they link one to the other. In April 2016, Microsoft reported in a financial report that patent royalties fell 26% from a year earlier. It is clear that these are not only deductions for Android, but the fall is associated exclusively with Android manufacturers, they simply stopped paying, because they see no point in it. The inflated story has come to an end.

In addition to Microsoft, many people want to cash in on the success of Android, in our country this is a Mikhalkov tax on storage media, when manufacturers are trying to force them to pay an additional few percent of the cost of the device. Most do not pay, and lawyers even try to sue for this money, as a rule, manufacturers emerge victorious from such courts. In other countries, there are also a large number of people who want to grab a piece of Android smartphone sales, and they come up with fees that they come to manufacturers. My advice is simple - ignore these companies and people, they are just trying to scam you and your company so that you pay them. A good, high-quality lawyer, if necessary, will fight off such attacks. You just need to analyze the threat and understand how real it is.

Cost of localization - why use Russian if it already exists

Android has language packs for most countries in the world, and many people think that no software localization is needed, since everything is already built into the system. This is another common mistake that can hurt the manufacturer's image. Android has a Russian language, it's true. But those versions of Android that come out of the Chinese factory are not always finished to a digestible state, not always correctly configured, which causes problems with displaying standard texts on the screen. Firstly, localization means that you check how systems and fonts work, do not forget to put them in the Android image or someone screwed up. Secondly, you need to check all the settings so that there are no adventures with the language and its switching in the system. Most Chinese factories do not bother with such checks, which often leads to not the best results.

Armchair analytics #75. How much does free Android cost

Also, Chinese manufacturers often have additional programs that are not system ones, you need to check their localization and capabilities. Often there are also pitfalls. Depending on the Chinese partner, the cost and time of such localization may differ. Somewhere it is less than a month and small costs per employee, somewhere a few months, a lot of nerves and a full load for several people. With a responsible approach to the product, localization becomes a necessary part of the production of the device, and it must be taken into account in the cost of Android, localization is never free. Although this is insignificant money even for a batch of 10,000 pieces, it is noticeable in overhead costs. I do not describe the cost of testing the solution, checking network operation, board quality and other points, they do not directly relate to the software, we talked about this in other materials.

The cost of drivers, or we pay for a flight of fancy

Most of the devices offered by Chinese factories are typical, they differ little from each other, there are variations in the quality of screens, case design and other points. Sometimes an inexperienced customer finds some inexpensive components and decides to buy them in order to gain in price, without specifying how compatible they are with the current software. Only pin to pin compatibility is specified so that there are no hardware problems. And they are not! But from the point of view of drivers, everything is not so simple, as a rule, dancing with a tambourine begins. Therefore, my advice to you is not to change device specifications unless you are absolutely sure what you are doing and what result you will get. One Russian project of an innovative device lost about three months because of such a problem, while looking for those who could write drivers for another chipset and finish the device. As a result, time was lost, the cost of the project increased, and “compatible with most Android components” turned out to be not so compatible at all. But this is a completely different story, which will have to be told separately.

The bottom line is that Android is an excellent semi-finished product that turns into a finished product with minimal effort, and an ecosystem for such a transformation, which takes into account any budget and taste, already exists. These are Chinese factories. But there are no miracles in the world, and the fact that Android is free for the manufacturer is a myth. You somehow pay for each manufactured device, even if the amount of payments is rather small for production of 10,000 pieces, and this is the minimum lot that is justified to be put into production. I hope, after this material, you will have an understanding that free Android requires certain investments in order to get the right product at the end. This is the cheapest and fastest product to prepare, but still it costs some money. It is worth remembering this in order not to fall into the trap of stereotypes that in Android everything is always free. It's not.

Couch analytics #75. How much does free Android cost

In a crisis, many people try to invest their money and time in more promising areas than those they are engaged in. These people have rich business experience behind them, developed horizons, and often they want to do something in the field of electronics, for example, a smartphone! The idea is not very fresh, but looking at the dominance of B / C-brands on store shelves and their sales volume, one might get the impression that the market is able to digest a dozen more companies. Hence, it is quite a natural question, why not become such a company.This is usually how I get to know these people and explain the basics of the market, how it works and why the emergence of another brand of smartphones is not such a great idea at all. Someone takes advice and listens to them, someone believes that they are being fooled in favor of existing players so that a young and aggressive company does not destroy someone's plot from which they collect gold bars. Everyone has their own ideas about the world order, which have a very indirect relation to reality. But almost every one of these people knows for sure that Android is a free operating system, it can be used by any manufacturer and there are no payments for it. I take my hat off to Google (now I should probably take it off to Alphabet as well), they managed to convince a huge number of people that Android in all its variants is free. And now I have to prove things that are not at all obvious from time to time. Let's see together how much Android costs for different companies and why it cannot be considered free for manufacturers.

Armchair analytics #75. How much does free Android cost

Manufacturer Android Options - Three Paths

Before the conflict between Yandex and Google in Russia, few people in the market thought about what versions of Android as a platform from Google exist. The court debate drew attention to this issue, but did not add order to the minds of people. Let's reiterate the obvious and describe what options electronics manufacturers have to choose which version of Android to put on their devices. So here are the three Android versions:

  • The basic version, it does not have any services from Google, the functionality is minimal, the music player is implemented very ascetically, as well as other services. There is no support for the app store, it is officially impossible to install the Google app store on such a device. Google does not impose any hardware requirements in such devices, take it and use it as you like. There is no interaction with Google.
  • Version with Google services, including the app store, Chrome, YouTube, Gmail and more. It also includes development tools and, as a result, support for most applications created for Android, which makes compatibility simple and effortless. It is also distributed free of charge, but requires signing an agreement with Google, in which the manufacturer assumes a number of obligations, we will talk about them later.Often this type of Android is referred to as including a GMS (Google Mobile Services) license, but de facto it is described in another contract - MADA (Mobile Application Distribution Agreement) and is an integral part of it. Below we will talk about this option, since it is the main one for almost all Android device manufacturers in the world.
  • The third option is technically the same as the second, the difference is in the division of income, when the manufacturer undertakes not to install programs that compete with Google services, but in return receives part of the income from advertising or the sale of applications, in each case these agreements are individual.< /li>

Within our history, we can conditionally consider the second and third options to be identical, they do not affect the cost of Android for the manufacturer, except that in the third option, part of the costs can be offset by the profit that the manufacturer receives in the future. But the initial amount of expenses and their types are identical in these situations.

Does anyone need an Android smartphone or tablet that doesn't have Google's app store? The obvious answer is no. All users want an app store to automatically download all their purchases and apps instead of scouring for them. And this is quite a healthy desire. The manufacturer, in order to ensure the availability of Google services, needs to sign an agreement with Google, the same MADA agreement. In this contract, the manufacturer assumes a number of duties and responsibilities, but does not bear any direct costs, does not pay anything to Google. And this creates a deceptive impression that this holiday is paid for by someone else, and the manufacturer can only create tablets or smartphones. But it's not.

Firstly, Google puts forward specific technical requirements for each version of Android, describing how much RAM devices should have, what screen resolution can be, how much memory should be free after download for applications. These are not very complex specifications, but they describe in detail what exactly a manufacturer can create. For example, by signing such a contract, you will not be able to officially release a smartphone with Android 6.x and 512 MB of RAM, as this is prohibited in the specifications. And unofficially, it will be difficult to do this, since you will not be certified by Google. And here we come to the first expenses for "free" Android.

Google has a worldwide network of laboratories that test various devices, the methodology is open and available to every manufacturer. First, you run a test program in your office, it produces results and shows the weak points of the device, if any. This is a check not only of the hardware of the device, but also of how the work of Android itself is implemented, how integration with hardware is performed. If the hardware specifications do not match the minimum possible by Google, then it is impossible to receive GMS services on this device. They will simply refuse you.

Depending on the country and laboratory, the cost of certification varies greatly, in the last year it has dipped a lot, but averages about 10-15 thousand dollars per model (any hardware changes, and you certify again). This is the money that a Google-licensed lab takes to test your device. Based on the results of the check, you are shown weaknesses, critical errors that need to be fixed. For Google, this is an easy way to control the quality of devices, while shifting most of the work to laboratories, consider a third party.

By signing MADA, you automatically deprive yourself of the opportunity to produce both licensed and left-handed devices with firmware from Chinese factories, where there may be a Google app store, but unofficially. In this way, Google brings manufacturers out of the shadows, and the contract gives leverage to put pressure on companies, which they are slowly starting to use.

Of the obvious disadvantages of MADA for manufacturers, I note that by subscribing to these rules of the game, you will not be able to efficiently produce small batches of smartphones, for example, a thousand pieces will become gold, since you still have to license these devices and spend at least 10,000 dollars for this process. That is, the cost of each device will increase by $ 10, which, with the average cost of a smartphone in China at $ 42, looks like an impossibly high increase.

In the past, and even now, many Chinese factories offered a "left" way to get GMS on smartphones, they connected through local players who registered phones with Google for themselves. Or they didn’t register them at all, but simply adapted the firmware so that the services worked. The cost of the work of these craftsmen ranged from 20 to 50 thousand dollars. That for batches of 5-10 thousand pieces is also a lot. Gradually, such intermediaries are being cleared out, and in the future, "left" smartphones may receive messages on the screen that they do not comply with Google's rules, in a word, manufacturers will be driven into MADA contracts, spoiling their perception in the eyes of end consumers. So far, there has not been a single such case, but Google employees are already openly saying that they do not exclude such a possibility in the near future.

Another indirect point that limits you. The lifespan of certain versions of Android is clearly defined by Google through its work with labs. For example, the deadline to apply for Android 5.x certification was May 15, as these devices can no longer receive certifications as of June 1, 2016. Accordingly, if some cheap smartphones on Android 5.x suddenly appear on the market in October, then with almost one hundred percent probability they did not receive official GMS, and all services were delivered bypassing Google. And Google knows about it.

For Google, this tight control allows it to push the market in the right direction, ensure that OS generations are interchangeable, and also pull device specs up one level. And manufacturers are forced to create devices with a filling no worse than the minimum described in the specifications. I am sure that in the next couple of years, Google will be able to get most companies outside of China to directly certify their devices, and the market will change. This suggests that, one way or another, when creating Android devices, you will have to take into account the cost of their certification before Google.

It should be mentioned separately that in Russia, as in most other countries of the world, there is a local electronics certification process, which can cost from 200 to 500 thousand rubles, depending on the device, terms and other variables. This certification has nothing to do with Google and is subject to local regulations. It should not be confused with Google's certification for Android compatibility and how devices work in practice.

Microsoft Patent Troll - Get Your Money

One day in Beijing, I was sitting on the R&D floor discussing the future models of a Chinese manufacturer when I was asked to come up to the legal department. There was a heated meeting in the meeting, as the company received an official letter from Microsoft stating that Android uses Microsoft intellectual property, which means it's time to pay the bills. It was proposed to give Microsoft 2% of the retail price of each phone, even some calculations were given. Robbery in broad daylight, you can't say otherwise. The letter of happiness caused strange sensations, it did not look sufficiently prepared and justified. Moreover, Microsoft's claims should have been addressed to Google, not to the company that used Android and did not receive the rights to the intellectual property of this platform.

The strategy of this major Chinese manufacturer turned out to be ridiculous, they acted like an ostrich and simply did not respond to the letter. During the year, more than two dozen letters were received, a hundred calls, during which people were speechless and forgot English, and sometimes Chinese. And do you know what happened next? The law firm that sent those letters just disappeared. No lawsuits, no attempts to ban the sale of equipment in any country.

This situation surprised me, especially since Microsoft in 2014-2015 informed the whole world that they had reached an agreement with the largest manufacturers of Android smartphones and they were paying hundreds of millions of dollars for the company's patents. For example, according to Microsoft, in 2013 Samsung paid the company $1 billion for Android-related patents, which amounted to $3.41 Foton from the device. I was always surprised by this figure, as well as the ease with which Samsung allegedly paid these bills, like other companies. The secret was revealed very simply - those partners who had a joint business with the corporation "paid" Microsoft. The scheme looked surprisingly simple, Microsoft gave a discount on the software sold to these companies, and buyers returned this money as patent payments. It turned out that they, as it were, were paying for patents, although de facto no changes were taking place, Microsoft was simply shifting money from one pocket to another. Microsoft's logic in this story is clear, they wanted to create a precedent, show that large manufacturers pay, and make small and medium-sized factories pay. They even approached Hon Hai, which makes the iPhone, to pay the patent fees too! Madmen. Misunderstanding of how the market works in China, how profit is formed on devices and the attitude towards IP, all together played a cruel joke. None of the small and medium-sized manufacturers began to pay Microsoft. An attempt to reduce volume discounts on software was instantly reflected in payments for patents, they decreased.I haven't seen any contracts on this topic, but they're obviously crafted in such a clever way that they link one to the other. In April 2016, Microsoft reported in a financial report that patent royalties fell 26% from a year earlier. It is clear that these are not only deductions for Android, but the fall is associated exclusively with Android manufacturers, they simply stopped paying, because they see no point in it. The inflated story has come to an end.

In addition to Microsoft, many people want to cash in on the success of Android, in our country this is a Mikhalkov tax on storage media, when manufacturers are trying to force them to pay an additional few percent of the cost of the device. Most do not pay, and lawyers even try to sue for this money, as a rule, manufacturers emerge victorious from such courts. In other countries, there are also a large number of people who want to grab a piece of Android smartphone sales, and they come up with fees that they come to manufacturers. My advice is simple - ignore these companies and people, they are just trying to scam you and your company so that you pay them. A good, high-quality lawyer, if necessary, will fight off such attacks. You just need to analyze the threat and understand how real it is.

Cost of localization - why use Russian if it already exists

Android has language packs for most countries in the world, and many people think that no software localization is needed, since everything is already built into the system. This is another common mistake that can hurt the manufacturer's image. Android has a Russian language, it's true. But those versions of Android that come out of the Chinese factory are not always finished to a digestible state, not always correctly configured, which causes problems with displaying standard texts on the screen. Firstly, localization means that you check how systems and fonts work, do not forget to put them in the Android image or someone screwed up. Secondly, you need to check all the settings so that there are no adventures with the language and its switching in the system. Most Chinese factories do not bother with such checks, which often leads to not the best results.

Armchair analytics #75. How much does free Android cost

Also, Chinese manufacturers often have additional programs that are not system ones, you need to check their localization and capabilities. Often there are also pitfalls. Depending on the Chinese partner, the cost and time of such localization may differ. Somewhere it is less than a month and small costs per employee, somewhere a few months, a lot of nerves and a full load for several people. With a responsible approach to the product, localization becomes a necessary part of the production of the device, and it must be taken into account in the cost of Android, localization is never free. Although this is insignificant money even for a batch of 10,000 pieces, it is noticeable in overhead costs. I do not describe the cost of testing the solution, checking network operation, board quality and other points, they do not directly relate to the software, we talked about this in other materials.

The cost of drivers, or we pay for a flight of fancy

Most of the devices offered by Chinese factories are typical, they differ little from each other, there are variations in the quality of screens, case design and other points. Sometimes an inexperienced customer finds some inexpensive components and decides to buy them in order to gain in price, without specifying how compatible they are with the current software. Only pin to pin compatibility is specified so that there are no hardware problems. And they are not! But from the point of view of drivers, everything is not so simple, as a rule, dancing with a tambourine begins. Therefore, my advice to you is not to change device specifications unless you are absolutely sure what you are doing and what result you will get. One Russian project of an innovative device lost about three months because of such a problem, while looking for those who could write drivers for another chipset and finish the device. As a result, time was lost, the cost of the project increased, and “compatible with most Android components” turned out to be not so compatible at all. But this is a completely different story, which will have to be told separately.

The bottom line is that Android is an excellent semi-finished product that turns into a finished product with minimal effort, and an ecosystem for such a transformation, which takes into account any budget and taste, already exists. These are Chinese factories. But there are no miracles in the world, and the fact that Android is free for the manufacturer is a myth. You somehow pay for each manufactured device, even if the amount of payments is rather small for production of 10,000 pieces, and this is the minimum lot that is justified to be put into production. I hope, after this material, you will have an understanding that free Android requires certain investments in order to get the right product at the end. This is the cheapest and fastest product to prepare, but still it costs some money. It is worth remembering this in order not to fall into the trap of stereotypes that in Android everything is always free. It's not.

Couch analytics #75. How much does free Android cost

In a crisis, many people try to invest their money and time in more promising areas than those they are engaged in. These people have rich business experience behind them, developed horizons, and often they want to do something in the field of electronics, for example, a smartphone! The idea is not very fresh, but looking at the dominance of B / C-brands on store shelves and their sales volume, one might get the impression that the market is able to digest a dozen more companies. Hence, it is quite a natural question, why not become such a company.This is usually how I get to know these people and explain the basics of the market, how it works and why the emergence of another brand of smartphones is not such a great idea at all. Someone takes advice and listens to them, someone believes that they are being fooled in favor of existing players so that a young and aggressive company does not destroy someone's plot from which they collect gold bars. Everyone has their own ideas about the world order, which have a very indirect relation to reality. But almost every one of these people knows for sure that Android is a free operating system, it can be used by any manufacturer and there are no payments for it. I take my hat off to Google (now I should probably take it off to Alphabet as well), they managed to convince a huge number of people that Android in all its variants is free. And now I have to prove things that are not at all obvious from time to time. Let's see together how much Android costs for different companies and why it cannot be considered free for manufacturers.

Armchair analytics #75. How much does free Android cost

Manufacturer Android Options - Three Paths

Before the conflict between Yandex and Google in Russia, few people in the market thought about what versions of Android as a platform from Google exist. The court debate drew attention to this issue, but did not add order to the minds of people. Let's reiterate the obvious and describe what options electronics manufacturers have to choose which version of Android to put on their devices. So here are the three Android versions:

  • The basic version, it does not have any services from Google, the functionality is minimal, the music player is implemented very ascetically, as well as other services. There is no support for the app store, it is officially impossible to install the Google app store on such a device. Google does not impose any hardware requirements in such devices, take it and use it as you like. There is no interaction with Google.
  • Version with Google services, including the app store, Chrome, YouTube, Gmail and more. It also includes development tools and, as a result, support for most applications created for Android, which makes compatibility simple and effortless. It is also distributed free of charge, but requires signing an agreement with Google, in which the manufacturer assumes a number of obligations, we will talk about them later.Often this type of Android is referred to as including a GMS (Google Mobile Services) license, but de facto it is described in another contract - MADA (Mobile Application Distribution Agreement) and is an integral part of it. Below we will talk about this option, since it is the main one for almost all Android device manufacturers in the world.
  • The third option is technically the same as the second, the difference is in the division of income, when the manufacturer undertakes not to install programs that compete with Google services, but in return receives part of the income from advertising or the sale of applications, in each case these agreements are individual.< /li>

Within our history, we can conditionally consider the second and third options to be identical, they do not affect the cost of Android for the manufacturer, except that in the third option, part of the costs can be offset by the profit that the manufacturer receives in the future. But the initial amount of expenses and their types are identical in these situations.

Does anyone need an Android smartphone or tablet that doesn't have Google's app store? The obvious answer is no. All users want an app store to automatically download all their purchases and apps instead of scouring for them. And this is quite a healthy desire. The manufacturer, in order to ensure the availability of Google services, needs to sign an agreement with Google, the same MADA agreement. In this contract, the manufacturer assumes a number of duties and responsibilities, but does not bear any direct costs, does not pay anything to Google. And this creates a deceptive impression that this holiday is paid for by someone else, and the manufacturer can only create tablets or smartphones. But it's not.

Firstly, Google puts forward specific technical requirements for each version of Android, describing how much RAM devices should have, what screen resolution can be, how much memory should be free after download for applications. These are not very complex specifications, but they describe in detail what exactly a manufacturer can create. For example, by signing such a contract, you will not be able to officially release a smartphone with Android 6.x and 512 MB of RAM, as this is prohibited in the specifications. And unofficially, it will be difficult to do this, since you will not be certified by Google. And here we come to the first expenses for "free" Android.

Google has a worldwide network of laboratories that test various devices, the methodology is open and available to every manufacturer. First, you run a test program in your office, it produces results and shows the weak points of the device, if any. This is a check not only of the hardware of the device, but also of how the work of Android itself is implemented, how integration with hardware is performed. If the hardware specifications do not match the minimum possible by Google, then it is impossible to receive GMS services on this device. They will simply refuse you.

Depending on the country and laboratory, the cost of certification varies greatly, in the last year it has dipped a lot, but averages about 10-15 thousand dollars per model (any hardware changes, and you certify again). This is the money that a Google-licensed lab takes to test your device. Based on the results of the check, you are shown weaknesses, critical errors that need to be fixed. For Google, this is an easy way to control the quality of devices, while shifting most of the work to laboratories, consider a third party.

By signing MADA, you automatically deprive yourself of the opportunity to produce both licensed and left-handed devices with firmware from Chinese factories, where there may be a Google app store, but unofficially. In this way, Google brings manufacturers out of the shadows, and the contract gives leverage to put pressure on companies, which they are slowly starting to use.

Of the obvious disadvantages of MADA for manufacturers, I note that by subscribing to these rules of the game, you will not be able to effectively produce small batches of smartphones, for example, a thousand pieces will become gold, since you still have to license these devices and spend at least 10,000 dollars for this process. That is, the cost of each device will increase by $10, which, with the average cost of a smartphone in China at $42, looks like an impossibly high increase.

In the past, and even now, many Chinese factories offered a "left" way to get GMS on smartphones, they connected through local players who registered phones with Google for themselves. Or they didn’t register them at all, but simply adapted the firmware so that the services worked. The cost of the work of these craftsmen ranged from 20 to 50 thousand dollars. That for batches of 5-10 thousand pieces is also a lot. Gradually, such intermediaries are being cleared out, and in the future, "left" smartphones may receive messages on the screen that they do not comply with Google's rules, in a word, manufacturers will be driven into MADA contracts, spoiling their perception in the eyes of end consumers. So far, there has not been a single such case, but Google employees are already openly saying that they do not exclude such a possibility in the near future.

Another indirect point that limits you. The lifespan of certain versions of Android is clearly defined by Google through its work with labs. For example, the deadline to apply for Android 5.x certification was May 15, as these devices can no longer receive certifications as of June 1, 2016. Accordingly, if some cheap smartphones on Android 5.x suddenly appear on the market in October, then with almost one hundred percent probability they did not receive official GMS, and all services were delivered bypassing Google. And Google knows about it.

For Google, this tight control allows it to push the market in the right direction, ensure that OS generations are interchangeable, and also pull device specs up one level. And manufacturers are forced to create devices with a filling no worse than the minimum described in the specifications. I am sure that in the next couple of years, Google will be able to get most companies outside of China to directly certify their devices, and the market will change. This suggests that, one way or another, when creating Android devices, you will have to take into account the cost of their certification before Google.

It should be mentioned separately that in Russia, as in most other countries of the world, there is a local electronics certification process, which can cost from 200 to 500 thousand rubles, depending on the device, terms and other variables. This certification has nothing to do with Google and is subject to local regulations. It should not be confused with Google's certification for Android compatibility and how devices work in practice.

Microsoft Patent Troll - Get Your Money

One day in Beijing, I was sitting on the R&D floor discussing the future models of a Chinese manufacturer when I was asked to come up to the legal department. There was a heated meeting in the meeting, as the company received an official letter from Microsoft stating that Android uses Microsoft intellectual property, which means it's time to pay the bills. It was proposed to give Microsoft 2% of the retail price of each phone, even some calculations were given. Robbery in broad daylight, you can't say otherwise. The letter of happiness caused strange sensations, it did not look sufficiently prepared and justified. Moreover, Microsoft's claims should have been addressed to Google, not to the company that used Android and did not receive the rights to the intellectual property of this platform.

The strategy of this major Chinese manufacturer turned out to be ridiculous, they acted like an ostrich and simply did not respond to the letter. During the year, more than two dozen letters were received, a hundred calls, during which people were speechless and forgot English, and sometimes Chinese. And do you know what happened next? The law firm that sent those letters just disappeared. No lawsuits, no attempts to ban the sale of equipment in any country.

This situation surprised me, especially since Microsoft in 2014-2015 informed the whole world that they had reached an agreement with the largest manufacturers of Android smartphones and they were paying hundreds of millions of dollars for the company's patents. For example, according to Microsoft, in 2013 Samsung paid the company a billion dollars for patents related to Android, which amounted to $3.41 Foton from the device. I was always surprised by this figure, as well as the ease with which Samsung allegedly paid these bills, like other companies. The secret was revealed very simply - those partners who had a joint business with the corporation "paid" Microsoft. The scheme looked surprisingly simple, Microsoft gave a discount on the software sold to these companies, and buyers returned this money as patent payments. It turned out that they, as it were, were paying for patents, although de facto no changes were taking place, Microsoft was simply shifting money from one pocket to another. Microsoft's logic in this story is clear, they wanted to create a precedent, show that large manufacturers pay, and make small and medium-sized factories pay. They even approached Hon Hai, which makes the iPhone, to pay patent fees too! Madmen. Misunderstanding of how the market works in China, how profit is formed on devices and the attitude towards IP, all together played a cruel joke. None of the small and medium-sized manufacturers began to pay Microsoft. An attempt to reduce volume discounts on software was instantly reflected in payments for patents, they decreased.I haven't seen any contracts on this topic, but they're obviously crafted in such a clever way that they link one to the other. In April 2016, Microsoft reported in a financial report that patent royalties fell 26% from a year earlier. It is clear that these are not only deductions for Android, but the fall is associated exclusively with Android manufacturers, they simply stopped paying, because they see no point in it. The inflated story has come to an end.

In addition to Microsoft, many people want to cash in on the success of Android, in our country this is a Mikhalkov tax on storage media, when manufacturers are trying to force them to pay an additional few percent of the cost of the device. Most do not pay, and lawyers even try to sue for this money, as a rule, manufacturers emerge victorious from such courts. In other countries, there are also a large number of people who want to grab a piece of Android smartphone sales, and they come up with fees that they come to manufacturers. My advice is simple - ignore these companies and people, they are just trying to scam you and your company so that you pay them. A good, high-quality lawyer, if necessary, will fight off such attacks. You just need to analyze the threat and understand how real it is.

Cost of localization - why use Russian if it already exists

Android has language packs for most countries in the world, and many people think that no software localization is needed, since everything is already built into the system. This is another common mistake that can hurt the manufacturer's image. Android has a Russian language, it's true. But those versions of Android that come out of the Chinese factory are not always finished to a digestible state, not always correctly configured, which causes problems with displaying standard texts on the screen. Firstly, localization means that you check how systems and fonts work, do not forget to put them in the Android image or someone screwed up. Secondly, you need to check all the settings so that there are no adventures with the language and its switching in the system. Most Chinese factories do not bother with such checks, which often leads to not the best results.

Armchair analytics #75. How much does free Android cost

Also, Chinese manufacturers often have additional programs that are not system ones, you need to check their localization and capabilities. Often there are also pitfalls. Depending on the Chinese partner, the cost and time of such localization may differ. Somewhere it is less than a month and small costs per employee, somewhere a few months, a lot of nerves and a full load for several people. With a responsible approach to the product, localization becomes a necessary part of the production of the device, and it must be taken into account in the cost of Android, localization is never free. Although this is insignificant money even for a batch of 10,000 pieces, it is noticeable in overhead costs. I do not describe the cost of testing the solution, checking network operation, board quality and other points, they do not directly relate to the software, we talked about this in other materials.

The cost of drivers, or we pay for a flight of fancy

Most of the devices offered by Chinese factories are typical, they differ little from each other, there are variations in the quality of screens, case design and other points. Sometimes an inexperienced customer finds some inexpensive components and decides to buy them in order to gain in price, without specifying how compatible they are with the current software. Only pin to pin compatibility is specified so that there are no hardware problems. And they are not! But from the point of view of drivers, everything is not so simple, as a rule, dancing with a tambourine begins. Therefore, my advice to you is not to change device specifications unless you are absolutely sure what you are doing and what result you will get. One Russian project of an innovative device lost about three months due to such a problem, while looking for those who could write drivers for another chipset and finish the device. As a result, time was lost, the cost of the project increased, and “compatible with most Android components” turned out to be not so compatible at all. But this is a completely different story, which will have to be told separately.

The bottom line is that Android is an excellent semi-finished product that turns into a finished product with minimal effort, and an ecosystem for such a transformation, which takes into account any budget and taste, already exists. These are Chinese factories. But there are no miracles in the world, and the fact that Android is free for the manufacturer is a myth. You somehow pay for each manufactured device, even if the amount of payments is rather small for production of 10,000 pieces, and this is the minimum lot that is justified to be put into production. I hope, after this material, you will have an understanding that free Android requires certain investments in order to get the right product at the end. This is the cheapest and fastest product to prepare, but still it costs some money. It is worth remembering this in order not to fall into the trap of stereotypes that in Android everything is always free. It's not.

Couch analytics #75. How much does free Android cost

In a crisis, many people try to invest their money and time in more promising areas than those they are engaged in. These people have rich business experience behind them, developed horizons, and often they want to do something in the field of electronics, for example, a smartphone! The idea is not very fresh, but looking at the dominance of B / C-brands on store shelves and their sales volume, one might get the impression that the market is able to digest a dozen more companies. Hence, it is quite a natural question, why not become such a company.This is usually how I get to know these people and explain the basics of the market, how it works and why the emergence of another brand of smartphones is not such a great idea at all. Someone takes advice and listens to them, someone believes that they are being fooled in favor of existing players so that a young and aggressive company does not destroy someone's plot from which they collect gold bars. Everyone has their own ideas about the world order, which have a very indirect relation to reality. But almost every one of these people knows for sure that Android is a free operating system, it can be used by any manufacturer and there are no payments for it. I take my hat off to Google (now I should probably take it off to Alphabet as well), they managed to convince a huge number of people that Android in all its variants is free. And now I have to prove things that are not at all obvious from time to time. Let's see together how much Android costs for different companies and why it cannot be considered free for manufacturers.

Within our history, we can conditionally consider the second and third options to be identical, they do not affect the cost of Android for the manufacturer, except that in the third option, part of the costs can be offset by the profit that the manufacturer receives in the future. But the initial amount of expenses and their types are identical in these situations.

Does anyone need an Android smartphone or tablet that doesn't have Google's app store? The obvious answer is no. All users want an app store to automatically download all their purchases and apps instead of scouring for them. And this is quite a healthy desire. The manufacturer, in order to ensure the availability of Google services, needs to sign an agreement with Google, the same MADA agreement. In this contract, the manufacturer assumes a number of duties and responsibilities, but does not bear any direct costs, does not pay anything to Google. And this creates a deceptive impression that this holiday is paid for by someone else, and the manufacturer can only create tablets or smartphones. But it's not.

Firstly, Google puts forward specific technical requirements for each version of Android, describing how much RAM devices should have, what screen resolution can be, how much memory should be free after download for applications. These are not very complex specifications, but they describe in detail what exactly a manufacturer can create. For example, by signing such a contract, you will not be able to officially release a smartphone with Android 6.x and 512 MB of RAM, as this is prohibited in the specifications. And unofficially, it will be difficult to do this, since you will not be certified by Google. And here we come to the first expenses for "free" Android.

Google has a worldwide network of laboratories that test various devices, the methodology is open and available to every manufacturer. First, you run a test program in your office, it produces results and shows the weak points of the device, if any. This is a check not only of the hardware of the device, but also of how the work of Android itself is implemented, how integration with hardware is performed. If the hardware specifications do not match the minimum possible by Google, then it is impossible to receive GMS services on this device. They will simply refuse you.

Depending on the country and laboratory, the cost of certification varies greatly, in the last year it has dipped a lot, but averages about 10-15 thousand dollars per model (any hardware changes, and you certify again). This is the money that a Google-licensed lab takes to test your device. Based on the results of the check, you are shown weaknesses, critical errors that need to be fixed. For Google, this is an easy way to control the quality of devices, while shifting most of the work to laboratories, consider a third party.

By signing MADA, you automatically deprive yourself of the opportunity to produce both licensed and left-handed devices with firmware from Chinese factories, where there may be a Google app store, but unofficially. In this way, Google brings manufacturers out of the shadows, and the contract gives leverage to put pressure on companies, which they are slowly starting to use.

Of the obvious disadvantages of MADA for manufacturers, I note that by subscribing to these rules of the game, you will not be able to efficiently produce small batches of smartphones, for example, a thousand pieces will become gold, since you still have to license these devices and spend at least 10,000 dollars for this process. That is, the cost of each device will increase by $ 10, which, with the average cost of a smartphone in China at $ 42, looks like an impossibly high increase.

In the past, and even now, many Chinese factories offered a "left" way to get GMS on smartphones, they connected through local players who registered phones with Google for themselves. Or they didn’t register them at all, but simply adapted the firmware so that the services worked. The cost of the work of these craftsmen ranged from 20 to 50 thousand dollars. That for batches of 5-10 thousand pieces is also a lot. Gradually, such intermediaries are being cleared out, and in the future, "left" smartphones may receive messages on the screen that they do not comply with Google's rules, in a word, manufacturers will be driven into MADA contracts, spoiling their perception in the eyes of end consumers. So far, there has not been a single such case, but Google employees are already openly saying that they do not exclude such a possibility in the near future.

Another indirect point that limits you. The lifespan of certain versions of Android is clearly defined by Google through its work with labs. For example, the deadline to apply for Android 5.x certification was May 15, as these devices can no longer receive certifications as of June 1, 2016. Accordingly, if some cheap smartphones on Android 5.x suddenly appear on the market in October, then with almost one hundred percent probability they did not receive official GMS, and all services were delivered bypassing Google. And Google knows about it.

For Google, this tight control allows it to push the market in the right direction, ensure that OS generations are interchangeable, and also pull device specs up one level. And manufacturers are forced to create devices with a filling no worse than the minimum described in the specifications. I am sure that in the next couple of years, Google will be able to get most companies outside of China to directly certify their devices, and the market will change. This suggests that, one way or another, when creating Android devices, you will have to take into account the cost of their certification before Google.

It should be mentioned separately that in Russia, as in most other countries of the world, there is a local electronics certification process, which can cost from 200 to 500 thousand rubles, depending on the device, terms and other variables. This certification has nothing to do with Google and is subject to local regulations. It should not be confused with Google's certification for Android compatibility and how devices work in practice.

Microsoft Patent Troll - Get Your Money

One day in Beijing, I was sitting on the R&D floor discussing the future models of a Chinese manufacturer when I was asked to come up to the legal department. There was a heated meeting in the meeting, as the company received an official letter from Microsoft stating that Android uses Microsoft intellectual property, which means it's time to pay the bills. It was proposed to give Microsoft 2% of the retail price of each phone, even some calculations were given. Robbery in broad daylight, you can't say otherwise. The letter of happiness caused strange sensations, it did not look sufficiently prepared and justified. Moreover, Microsoft's claims should have been addressed to Google, not to the company that used Android and did not receive the rights to the intellectual property of this platform.

The strategy of this major Chinese manufacturer turned out to be ridiculous, they acted like an ostrich and simply did not respond to the letter. During the year, more than two dozen letters were received, a hundred calls, during which people were speechless and forgot English, and sometimes Chinese. And do you know what happened next? The law firm that sent those letters just disappeared. No lawsuits, no attempts to ban the sale of equipment in any country.

This situation surprised me, especially since Microsoft in 2014-2015 informed the whole world that they had reached an agreement with the largest manufacturers of Android smartphones and they were paying hundreds of millions of dollars for the company's patents. For example, according to Microsoft, in 2013 Samsung paid the company a billion dollars for patents related to Android, which amounted to $3.41 Foton per device. I was always surprised by this figure, as well as the ease with which Samsung allegedly paid these bills, like other companies. The secret was revealed very simply - those partners who had a joint business with the corporation "paid" Microsoft. The scheme looked surprisingly simple, Microsoft gave a discount on the software sold to these companies, and buyers returned this money as patent payments. It turned out that they, as it were, were paying for patents, although de facto no changes were taking place, Microsoft was simply shifting money from one pocket to another. Microsoft's logic in this story is clear, they wanted to create a precedent, show that large manufacturers pay, and make small and medium-sized factories pay. They even approached Hon Hai, which makes the iPhone, to pay patent fees too! Madmen. Misunderstanding of how the market works in China, how profit is formed on devices and the attitude towards IP, all together played a cruel joke. None of the small and medium-sized manufacturers began to pay Microsoft. An attempt to reduce volume discounts on software was instantly reflected in payments for patents, they decreased. I haven't seen any contracts on this topic, but they're obviously crafted in such a clever way that they link one to the other. In April 2016, Microsoft reported in a financial report that patent royalties fell 26% from a year earlier. It is clear that these are not only deductions for Android, but the fall is associated exclusively with Android manufacturers, they simply stopped paying, because they see no point in it. The inflated story has come to an end.

This situation surprised me, especially since Microsoft in 2014-2015 informed the whole world that they had reached an agreement with the largest manufacturers of Android smartphones and they were paying hundreds of millions of dollars for the company's patents. For example, according to Microsoft, in 2013 Samsung paid the company $1 billion for patents related to Android, which amounted to $3.41. Foton Foton from the device. I was always surprised by this figure, as well as the ease with which Samsung allegedly paid these bills, like other companies. The secret was revealed very simply - those partners who had a joint business with the corporation "paid" Microsoft. The scheme looked surprisingly simple, Microsoft gave a discount on the software sold to these companies, and buyers returned this money as patent payments. It turned out that they, as it were, were paying for patents, although de facto no changes were taking place, Microsoft was simply shifting money from one pocket to another. Microsoft's logic in this story is clear, they wanted to create a precedent, show that large manufacturers pay, and make small and medium-sized factories pay. They even approached Hon Hai, which makes the iPhone, to pay patent fees too! Madmen. Misunderstanding of how the market works in China, how profit is formed on devices and the attitude towards IP, all together played a cruel joke. None of the small and medium-sized manufacturers began to pay Microsoft. An attempt to reduce volume discounts on software was instantly reflected in payments for patents, they decreased.I haven't seen any contracts on this topic, but they're obviously crafted in such a clever way that they link one to the other. In April 2016, Microsoft reported in a financial report that patent royalties fell 26% from a year earlier. It is clear that these are not only deductions for Android, but the fall is associated exclusively with Android manufacturers, they simply stopped paying, because they see no point in it. The crazy story has come to an end.

In addition to Microsoft, many people want to cash in on the success of Android, in our country this is a Mikhalkov tax on storage media, when manufacturers are trying to force them to pay an additional few percent of the cost of the device. Most do not pay, and lawyers even try to sue for this money, as a rule, manufacturers emerge victorious from such courts. In other countries, there are also a large number of people who want to grab a piece of Android smartphone sales, and they come up with fees that they come to manufacturers. My advice is simple - ignore these companies and people, they are just trying to scam you and your company so that you pay them. A good, high-quality lawyer, if necessary, will fight off such attacks. You just need to analyze the threat and understand how real it is.

Cost of localization - why use Russian if it already exists

Android has language packs for most countries in the world, and many people think that no software localization is needed, since everything is already built into the system. This is another common mistake that can hurt the manufacturer's image. Android has a Russian language, it's true. But those versions of Android that come out of the Chinese factory are not always finished to a digestible state, not always correctly configured, which causes problems with displaying standard texts on the screen. Firstly, localization means that you check how systems and fonts work, do not forget to put them in the Android image or someone screwed up. Secondly, you need to check all the settings so that there are no adventures with the language and its switching in the system. Most Chinese factories do not bother with such checks, which often leads to not the best results.

Also, Chinese manufacturers often have additional programs that are not system ones, you need to check their localization and capabilities. Often there are also pitfalls. Depending on the Chinese partner, the cost and time of such localization may differ. Somewhere it is less than a month and small costs per employee, somewhere a few months, a lot of nerves and a full load for several people. With a responsible approach to the product, localization becomes a necessary part of the production of the device, and it must be taken into account in the cost of Android, localization is never free. Although this is insignificant money even for a batch of 10,000 pieces, it is noticeable in overhead costs. I do not describe the cost of testing the solution, checking network operation, board quality and other points, they do not directly relate to the software, we talked about this in other materials.

The cost of drivers, or we pay for a flight of fancy

Most of the devices offered by Chinese factories are typical, they differ little from each other, there are variations in the quality of screens, case design and other points. Sometimes an inexperienced customer finds some inexpensive components and decides to buy them in order to gain in price, without specifying how compatible they are with the current software. Only pin to pin compatibility is specified so that there are no hardware problems. And they are not! But from the point of view of drivers, everything is not so simple, as a rule, dancing with a tambourine begins.Therefore, my advice to you is not to change device specifications unless you are absolutely sure what you are doing and what result you will get. One Russian project of an innovative device lost about three months because of such a problem, while looking for those who could write drivers for another chipset and finish the device. As a result, time was lost, the cost of the project increased, and “compatible with most Android components” turned out to be not so compatible at all. But this is a completely different story, which will have to be told separately.

The bottom line is that Android is an excellent semi-finished product that turns into a finished product with minimal effort, and an ecosystem for such a transformation, which takes into account any budget and taste, already exists. These are Chinese factories. But there are no miracles in the world, and the fact that Android is free for the manufacturer is a myth. You somehow pay for each manufactured device, even if the amount of payments is rather small for production of 10,000 pieces, and this is the minimum lot that is justified to be put into production. I hope, after this material, you will have an understanding that free Android requires certain investments in order to get the right product at the end. This is the cheapest and fastest product to prepare, but still it costs some money. It is worth remembering this in order not to fall into the trap of stereotypes that in Android everything is always free. It's not.