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Android Phone Makers’ Backup Plans Get an ‘F’

For years, Android handset makers have been trying to reduce their dependence on Google’s mobile software. So far, they get a failing grade.

After years of leaning on Android to power almost all their smartphones, manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics, Sony and HTC are dipping their toes into alternatives from Microsoft, Mozilla and others. The phone makers’ fear is that being dependent on Google’s software hurts their negotiating power with Google over what kind of features and apps they can add to devices or how to split revenue generated by Google’s mobile services such as Web search. Google is competing with them directly through its acquisition of smartphone manufacturer Motorola Mobility. And HTC, which was the leading Android phone maker a few years ago and now is a laggard, has shown that an Android-heavy strategy isn’t without risks.

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