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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
policy has reportedly resulted in complaints to the Justice Department. Google
declined to comment on this aspect.
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
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.
often got criticized for treating all partners the same, whether they were
doing great work or mediocre work," Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg
"Google seems to have no problem with playing favorites."
bottom line from the report: "Despite grumblings, Google's Android mobile
operating system is still open—it's just getting more heavily policed."
quote: If Google didn’t act, it faced a draconian future where one man, one phone, one carrier were our choice. That’s a future we don’t want. […]So if you believe in openness, if you believe in choice, if you believe in innovation from everyone, then welcome to Android.
quote: From now on, companies hoping to receive early access to Google’s most up-to-date software will need approval of their plans. And they will seek that approval from Andy Rubin, the head of Google’s Android group.