I have just watched Marton Barcza’s latest “The Friday Checkout” video, and it reminded me of why HMD Global used to partner tightly with Google. After participating in the Android One program, HMD became Google’s Premier partner company. In fact, HMD Global was a part of Google’s Premier Device program starting in December 2019. I am not sure whether HMD is still in this program since Android One seems to be a thing of the past on Nokia devices.
The program required that all “Premier” devices use “Google exclusivity and defaults for all key functions.” The benefit of becoming a member of the Premier club was increased revenue from Google. Partners would receive 8% of search revenue earned on the device, but under the “Premier” agreement, search revenue would be bumped up to 12%. This was a logical move since Google Search money was used partially to fund HMD.
But that is not the focus of the story. The true point is that Google paid 36% of search-generated revenue through the Safari web browser to Apple. This damaging information (for Google) recently came out during testimony from Google’s main economics expert, Kevin Murphy, during the Department of Justice’s monopoly trial examining Google’s search business.
As you may know, Apple does not use the Android OS on its devices but receives a significant share of search revenue just to use Google’s search engine. Google’s most valuable partners, which keep Google’s OS ecosystem alive on their devices, receive three times less.
It seems to me that Google is paying more significant amounts to those that matter or those that can easily jeopardize Google’s golden egg, its search engine. Apple and Samsung are powerful enough to reduce their reliance on Google, and by distancing from these two, Google would undoubtedly start to lose its power in the smartphone market, which is becoming increasingly dominant.