Android Skins, "Crapware" Protected by Open Source Principles, Says Schmidt
September 27, 2010 4:35 AM
Is bloatware protected under the tenants of open source?
Google CEO Eric Schmidt, during a recent Q&A session
Google CEO says it would be violating one of Google's guiding principles to allow users to revert to stock configs
From skins like HTC's Sense UI and
, to the deluge of apps installed on Android phones by carriers and hardware manufacturers, Android phones can be a bit cluttered at times -- much like their PC brethren.
Many customers have wished in vain that there was a single, easy "reset to stock configuration" option, which will revert their phones to a stock build of Android and delete the excess. Not so fast, says
Google CEO Eric Schmidt
Mr. Schmidt, an opinionated figure in the tech industry and part-time evangelist for Google's philosophy, recently explained in a question and answer session why Google
believe this is a good idea. He
, "If we were to put those type of restrictions on an open source product, we'd be violating the principle of open source."
Of course "open source" is as wide and diverse an umbrella as possible in the tech industry, and Mr. Schmidt's definition of open source may be quite different from the next man's.
So other than taking the open source "moral higher ground", why might Google not want to give customers a quicker way to remove OEM/carrier junk? Well one key reason is
. Google gives away Android for free, hoping that the mass adoption will more than make up for the development costs via advertising and app sales. Part of the equation to convince wireless carriers and hardware manufactures to pick Android over a competitor (Symbian, webOS, Windows Phone 7) is allowing them to free modify their custom Android build to their heart's content.
But curiously, despite Mr. Schmidt's statement and the apparent advantages to adoption that not including a "clean build" option brings, Google reportedly will go in quite the opposite direction with
Android 3.0 "Gingerbread"
. Gingerbread will kill off custom OEM skins, replacing them with a single Google-made skin. Of course the carrier-specific apps/junkware will likely remain, but Google's actions definitely show it to be quietly moving in the opposite direction, even as it defends customized deployments.
"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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