According to the recent news, google apps are closed source and one cannot use it after forking android.

But, as I understand, I can fork Android, create my own OS and then install Gapps manually.

If the users can do it manually, theoretically anyone with any device can use Gapps, than what is the advantage of closing the source if it does not prevent Google from creating other Android alternatives, e.g Cyanogenmod?

EDIT: I am quite aware of the advantages of having closed/open source. The question is that Google wants to get rid of competitors and prevent Android fragmentation. People can fork Android and one day become major OS provider. OF course, forking android without google services has very little value for users and it is extremely difficult to write such services from scratch. So, Google tries to keep its leadership in Android market by closing its service.

But, if one can fork android, customize it, than use Google services (even if installed manually), than this does not help Google at all in reaching its goal, i.e. prevent competitors and Android fragmentation.The Google services still can be very easily used and everyone can have its own alternate Android. So, what is the point to close the services?

Besides this, again, what is the meaning to have Google approved devices?I can manufacture devices and use their services without having the approval.

2 Answers 2


Technically, you are not allowed to "install Gapps manually" unless your phone already comes with them pre-installed. The Google Apps package (that includes Google Play Services, Play Store, and several other apps) is Google's intellectual property, and nobody is allowed to distribute it, except for Google's certified partners that have passed CTS.

For example, CyanogenMod ROM does not include, host, or distribute the Gapps package. Instead, they have scripts built into their tools that back up Gapps that are already installed on your handset prior to installation/upgrade, and restore them afterwards. Any other ROMs and maintainers who do host Gapps packages are doing so illegally, and are infringing on Google's copyright. For the most part, Google chooses to not enforce their copyright against small-time guys, but will not hesitate to unleash their army of lawyers when they deem is necessary.

To answer your question, Google's services are essential for their grip on Android's ecosystem. Only the big guys like Amazon or Samsung can afford to completely steer clear of Google's services with their own offerings. For example, not having access to Play Store on an Android handset is a huge drawback for a smaller manufacturer like HTC, Huawei, Motorola, etc., since the alternatives are usually lacking in both numbers, as well as (perceived) security. Google uses this as both a carrot and a stick.

  • Please see the question update.
    – saakian
    Apr 2, 2014 at 19:52
  • 2
    Answer still applies. Legally speaking, you cannot cannot "use their services" without being certified. It's one thing when a couple of WinZip masters post a file on a forum, and another when a manufacturer wants to bring a new Android device to the market.
    – Chahk
    Apr 2, 2014 at 19:55
  • Is Cynogenmod certified to use them? I did not find any info on the web
    – saakian
    Apr 2, 2014 at 19:56
  • 1
    As I said in my answer, CM no longer provides Gapps. During initial installation and subsequent updates, they back up Gapps that are already present on your phone and restore them after install/update process. This is because Google actually sent them "Cease and Desist" letter back in the day when Gapps were baked into CM. See the drama here.
    – Chahk
    Apr 2, 2014 at 19:59
  • With that said, Cyanogen, Inc. is most definitely certified for Google Apps, and CM on Oppo N1 is fully licensed.
    – Chahk
    Apr 2, 2014 at 20:05

The advantage to closed source apps is that I can write my app and add features and then sell it. This makes me money. But if it is open source, other people can fork the source code for my app and modify it. They might even make it better. But then I'm not getting any money because they are using the better version although I was the first one to come up with it.

Even though the user can manually load up Google apps, they are not able to modify it at all. Companies such as Cyanogenmod can't take Google apps source code and make it better because they don't have that source code.

Lastly, this is very common in software development and you shouldn't expect most things to be open source.

After your edit,

It does help Google. You must understand that Google does not directly generate revenue from Android as an OS. They generate revenue when people use Google services on Android. If you use Google services, Google makes money even if they didn't explicitly tell you so. Google is not going to come after you as an end user using their services.

Now if you are an OEM or company that wants to tack on Google services on your fork of android, you require to be certified as explained in the other answer. Then Google rightly wants a part of the money you make because you are marketing your device with Google services!

  • Please see question edit
    – saakian
    Apr 2, 2014 at 19:52

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