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Is bloatware protected under the tenants of open source?  (Source: Optaros)

Google CEO Eric Schmidt, during a recent Q&A session  (Source: YouTube)
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 Motorola's Motoblur, 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 doesn't believe this is a good idea.  He states, "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 market share.  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.


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Android is mostly open for carriers
By Tony Swash on 9/27/2010 7:05:23 AM , Rating: 0
Android is open - but at the moment its mostly open for the carriers.

Google can take two approaches to the future of Android.

a) It can insist on all sorts of common standards, restrictions and requirements of the carriers. If Google goes this way it will create a better end user experience for users (no crap ware, consistent UIs etc) and a large common platform for developers. If it goes this way it will become effectively the Microsoft of the mobile world. If it does become the Microsoft of the mobile world there is no guarantee that it will not, and in my opinion a high probability that it will, use its power to ensure the Google monopoly of key mobile services (search etc, and above all location services). It is unclear at the moment whether Google has the power or the will to take on the carriers in this way.

b) Google can take a hands off approach and let the carriers freely deploy Android how they want, tweak the UI, disable features, bundle services etc. This is currently the approach that Google mostly takes at the moment (it does a bit of approach (b) but is hesitant about fully pursuing the logic of that strategy). If this hands off approach continues its hard to see Android delivering the quality end user experience over time and across the board. There may be pockets of excellent carrier good practice in deploying Android but the overwhelming evidence of past behaviour is that the carriers will find it impossible to resist the temptation to use Android in such a way as to perpetuate their power and all the poor practice that goes along with that power. If this happens then Android will only really be open for the carriers.

My feeling is that at the moment it is that is not clear which way Google is going with all this and that in some ways they are are trying to do both, Android is open but with strings.

Maybe Google can find a genuine third way between open (a) and (b) above but I tend to think they will be forced to choose between the two approaches. Which way all this goes will probably be decided in the near future and especially with how Gingerbread is actually deployed by the carriers.




RE: Android is mostly open for carriers
By bug77 on 9/27/2010 7:48:08 AM , Rating: 2
Let's not forget why Google got in the game in the first place: to sell ads. That's all there is to it. As long as they provide you with a way to browse the internet (and therefore look at their ads), their job is done. Everything else is just icing on the cake. Luckily for us, because of rival platforms, Google still has to provide an enticing user experience.


By Spuke on 9/27/2010 9:27:20 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Google still has to provide an enticing user experience
Which they do. I and others are MORE than happy with Android.


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