HP Claims Someone Snuck Android Onto Its TouchPads, Opens Investigation
October 6, 2011 9:51 AM
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Android on TouchPad team dealt a setback in their efforts
TouchPad's fire sale
, which saw units selling for as little as $88 USD, the short-lived Hewlett-Packard Comp. (
) webOS tablet is chic again. Given that webOS, appears on its last legs in terms of support from HP,
developers are rushing to port
Google, Inc.'s (
) Android OS to the device to extend its lifetime.
shipped several TouchPads
mysteriously running an Android 2.2 "Froyo" kernel. The Android porting teams reached out to HP inquiring about these units. They argued that under Android's open source licens, HP must release the source code for these devices, including the firmware that drives multi-touch and wireless functionality on the device.
, HP's Phil Robb, director of HP's open-source program office, claims ignorance of the Android build -- or at least feigns it.
But rather than leaving it at that, he goes on to say that HP is launching an investigation into how Android made its way onto those tablets. He writes, "We presently believe that some person or persons unknown may have facilitated the delivery of these Android-based units strictly against the policy and authorization of HP."
"Regarding your specific request for source code below, I must decline at the present time. HP has never authorized the distribution of any binaries for Android in association with the HP Touchpad. Therefore, HP is not under any license obligation to provide any corresponding Android source code to you."
Mr. Robb requested any information on the devices, to help it track down who put the supposedly unauthorized Android build on them.
HP's comments seem to infer that component supplier Qualcomm, Inc. (
) illegitimately and possibly illegally put the OS on the devices. The Android-endowed units flash the logo QuIC, or Qualcomm Innovation Center, a Qualcomm engineering subsidiary that works on optimizing open-source software for Qualcomm and its partners' products.
But QuIC at least claims to be oblivious to where the units came from as well. It sent a letter to developers denying that it manufactured or distributed the tablets in question.
Thus an interesting "Whodoneit?" mystery has emerged in the case of the Android TouchPads. Hopefully the Android development team gets to the bottom of this.
That said, HP's vows to "investigate" the incident feel a bit like beating a dead horse. After all, HP essentially said loud and clear that it didn't care about TouchPad or webOS fans, when it discontinued the device and began
laying off the webOS team
. So why would HP care if someone put Android on it?
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RE: Android on a TouchPad, gasp
10/6/2011 12:00:37 PM
I got one, and I will install Android when it becomes available, for two reasons:
1) I have an Android smart phone and apps already, so being able to use apps I'm familiar with and access the larger app store is a big draw.
2) As much as I like WebOS, it's about 90% finished. It's still buggy in places, very slow in others, and in general just lacking polish in a lot of areas. The Apps aren't much better in all, both the included and the market ones. I'd be willing to stick it out knowing these issues would evetually be fixed, but they won't. So why get frustrated with an "almost" that will never improve?
"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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