A new report sheds light on Facebook’s doomsday scenario: getting kicked off the Play Store.
The Information’s Amir Efrati reports that Facebook has been weighing its options in case a conflict with Google results in the removal of Facebook apps from the Play Store.
To be clear, there is no imminent threat of Facebook being excluded from Google’s app store. The relationship between Google and Facebook – the largest and most important app developer on Android – is said to be pleasant, at least on the surface.
Nevertheless, a tension reportedly exists between the two Internet giants, caused by their conflicting business imperatives. Facebook wants more freedom to implement features and isworried about its dependency on Google’s API infrastructure. Google is serving billions of notifications for Facebook and may eventually decide it wants to be remunerated for its trouble.
One measure that Facebook has reportedly considered in the eventuality of a war with Google is the creation of alternatives to Google’s cloud services, targeted at devices that are sold without Google’s stamp of approval in China and other countries. This includes the infrastructure for delivering notifications, making payments, and downloading and installing apps and updates. Facebook could even host its own app store for other developers, though according to The Information, the social company isn’t really interested in doing that.
Facebook has also struck deals with many carriers and manufacturers to have its apps pre-loaded on new devices and has even run “war games” to simulate what it would happen if users could no longer download Facebook from the Play Store.
Facebook reportedly removed its main app from the Play Store for an entire, unnamed, country, for around a week, to gauge the reaction of its user base. And, in a slightly unnerving move, the company intentionally induced errors that would make its app unusable for some users, just to see how far it could push users before they give up and stop using Facebook on mobile. Users kept using Facebook, despite of the abuse.
According to The Information, some of these measures were discussed in late 2015, so the situation is in flux. Regardless of what happens, it’s absolutely fascinating to peek inside the high-stakes cold wars going on between some of the biggest technology companies in the world.