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Android's head honcho, Any Rubin.  (Source: gizmodo.com)
Beginning to clamp down on fragmentation, seeks oversight

Ever since Google introduced the Android mobile OS to the world in the fall of 2008, the company has advocated an open-source approach to its development and implementation. On one hand, this attitude helped fuel Android's auspicious growth. On the other hand, it also resulted in a fragmented OS. Now, Google is beginning to rein in the rampant tweaking of the software, in an effort aimed at uniformity.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that Google over the last few months has sent this message to the major carriers and device manufacturers that support Android: Playtime is over. Google, particularly Android head Andy Rubin, will have oversight of any future Android partnerships, and anyone who wants early access to the latest iteration of the software will need to seek permission from Rubin himself.

"The Google that once welcomed all comers to help get its mobile software off the ground has become far more discriminating—especially for companies that want to include Google services such as search and maps on their hardware," Bloomberg reports.

Ostensibly, Rubin predicted the fragmentation that would follow a platform as open as Android. That's why the company chooses a chipmaker and device manufacturer when it launches a new product, to show off what it can accomplish. In the past, it was Qualcomm and HTC -- both companies have made huge market gains as a result. 

According to several sources for Bloomberg's report, Google has demanded that Android licensees abide by "non-fragmentation clauses" that grant Google the final word on customization matters. It also means they need approval from Google to partner with others. John Lagerlin, director of global Android partnerships, told Bloomberg that it's about quality control and aiming towards a "common denominator" experience.

And while Rubin claims that a clause has always been part of the license, sources say that Google has been clamping down in recent months. Facebook, which is trying to launch its own Android device, has reportedly been unhappy because of Google's oversight. Google has also gotten involved with an upcoming Android phone from Verizon that incorporates rival Microsoft's Bing search engine, holding up its release. 

This policy has reportedly resulted in complaints to the Justice Department. Google declined to comment on this aspect.

In addition, Google has also begun to withhold code from the public, which hurts developers and smaller companies. According to Bloomberg, Google will not release the source code for the tablet Honeycomb OS anytime in the near future. 

"The premise of a true open software platform may be where Android started, but it's not where Android is going," Nokia Chief Executive Stephen Elop told Bloomberg. Elop, a former Microsoft executive, recently established a "strategic partnership" with his former employer instead of Google because, he says, he would be able to innovate more with Windows Phone 7 than Android.

"Microsoft often got criticized for treating all partners the same, whether they were doing great work or mediocre work," Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg told Bloomberg. "Google seems to have no problem with playing favorites."

The bottom line from the report: "Despite grumblings, Google's Android mobile operating system is still open—it's just getting more heavily policed."



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This kills me...
By SkullOne on 3/31/2011 9:22:56 AM , Rating: 1
Google just can't win it seems.

They get beaten all the time in articles on the web about fragmentation. Oddly enough 90+% of all devices are 2.1 or better and 60% of that is 2.2 or better. Fragmented? Yes, but not horribly so as companies like Apple would have you believe.

So now that they are trying to do something about the fragmentation they get beaten yet again.




RE: This kills me...
By omnicronx on 3/31/2011 10:58:24 AM , Rating: 2
<---Android user here.. I assure you its not only Apple making these statements.

That silly study made me laugh too, considering 100% of those 2.1 devices which account for 30% of devices out there should have absolutely no problem upgrading to 2.2. Manufacturers and carriers just decided not to do the legwork.

As 2.3 phones are released, more 2.2 phones will remain without update.. once again leaving more phones behind.

You can spin numbers anyway you want, for example I can say that 100% of Apple devices got at least an update or are have access to the latest version. 100% of Palm Pre users had access to all updates and most likely 100% of current windows phones will get an update.

See the problem with statistics?


RE: This kills me...
By robinthakur on 4/6/2011 11:30:36 AM , Rating: 2
I would say that the things stopping me getting an Android over an iPhone 4/5 last year (and I expect will be the same again this year) are as follows:

-Fragmentation of base level specs of handsets causing developers not to take advantage of current hardware/software. This is already happening.

-The only viable standard Android handset out there is the Nexus S, on which the build quality is hardly great and the spec is a bit passé. There's no way I'm likely to want to root and update, it just seems like too much effort just to get a basic configuration.

-Battery life does not compare to an iPhone currently. Not sure why when there are so many vendors for Android, perhaps they don't think it's important...

-Apps are nowhere near the quality of an iPhone from what I've seen and I'd have to buy them all again. Not good.

-No program like iTunes which just deals with all the syncing. I understand that dragging and dropping appeals to some people, but prefer that it just does it when I plug it in.

-Non-accelerated UI, it just seems juddery STILL! Not sure I could live with the drop in sharpness from an iPhone 4 either.

My 10 cents.


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