Facebook and Google might seem like allies on the surface, but the Information’s sources say that tension is growing between the two Internet giants. The report suggests that Facebook already has contingency plans in place, should it ever be removed from the Google Play Store. One of those plans involves Facebook building its own app store, so users are able to bypass the Play Store.
So far, neither Google nor Facebook have commented on the report, and it seems unlikely that Facebook would create its own app store any time soon. In fact, the Information writes that although its sources say the relationship between the two is rocky, Facebook doesn’t intend to act on these backup plans unless it has to.
Supposedly, Facebook is just preparing for the worst-case scenario in which its app is removed from the Play Store for violating Google’s app policies. The idea is that as the social network pushes more secretive tests on its users, Google might start to crack down on the social network’s behavior. Future changes to privacy, security, notifications, and app privileges might also force Facebook to make changes outside of the Play Store, the Information noted.
Facebook has supposedly already tested to see if users would bypass the Play Store, asking a small group to download the Android app from a Web link. The test “wasn’t disastrous,” but there were struggles trying to get users to trust mobile links.
Other contingency plans include using the Oculus VR app store, which is pre-loaded on Samsung devices, or working with OEM partners to stay alive on Android, says the report. Interestingly, the openness of Android appears to be a way for Facebook to skirt around a potential ban, something it would be incapable of doing on iOS, which might be why it is performing these tests on Android users.
The report goes into a lot of detail about the various plans, but it’s unclear whether these plans — if they are real — will ever be put into action. It is hard to see how Google could ever remove one of the most popular apps on its store, and Facebook seems equally unlikely to leave the Play Store voluntarily. The report sounds even more unlikely when you consider that Facebook owns Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger — three of the most popular apps in the world.