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Android on TouchPad team dealt a setback in their efforts

With the TouchPad's fire sale, which saw units selling for as little as $88 USD, the short-lived Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ) 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 (GOOG) Android OS to the device to extend its lifetime.

HP 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.

In its response, 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. (QCOM) 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.

TouchPad QuIC
[Source: YouTube]

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?  

Sources: HP, PCWorld





"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad



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