Android is far less ‘open’ than Google’s PR spinners would have you believe

invisibleSHIELD case for iPad“You thought Android was open? The Android governance model consists of an elaborate set of control points that allows Google to bundle its own services and control the exact software and hardware make-up on every handset. All this while touting the openness rhetoric that is founded on the Apache permissive license used in the Android SDK,” Andreas Constantinou blogs for VisionMobile.

“The openness rhetoric and the Google aura has attracted thousands of developers on the platform, at a time when the money equation is sub-par; consider that – compared to the Apple devices – Android handsets are around 9x less in volume and paid-for apps are available in 6x fewer countries,” Constantinou writes. “What’s even more fascinating is how closed Android is, despite Google’s do-no-evil mantra and the permissive Apache 2 license which Android SDK is under. Paraphrasing a famous line from Henry Ford’s book on the Model-T, anyone can have Android in their own colour as long as it’s black. Android is the best example of how a company can use open source to build up interest and community participation, while running a very tight commercial model.”

Google uses 8 control points to manage the make-up of Android handsets:
1. Private branches
2. Closed review process
3. Speed of evolution
4. Incomplete software
5. Gated developer community
6. Anti-fragmentation agreement
7. Private roadmap
8. Android trademark

Constantinou writes, “The Open Handset Alliance is another myth; since Google managed to attract sufficient industry interest in 2008, the OHA is simply a set of signatures with membership serving only as a VIP Club badge… With Android, Google aims to deliver a consistent platform to its own revenue-generating services. For now, this is the ad business. But in the future, Google is aiming at voice (reaching the billions who don’t have a data connection) and Checkout (i.e. becoming the Visa of mobile). Yet whatever the endgame, it’s worth realising that Android is no more open – and no less closed – than Windows Mobile, Apple OSX or PalmOS; it’s the smartest implementation of open source aimed at driving commercial agendas. Android is much less about the do-no-evil rhetoric that the PR spinners in Mountain View would like us to think.”

Much more in the full article, including the 8 point above explained, here.


  1. Between Google, Adobe, Nokia and Microsoft
    Apple looks like U.S. in World War II fighting
    Germany, Japan, and the Fascist symphatizers.

    But just like the U.S. in the 1940s’ Apple too has
    unique weapons, in OS X iTunes and iPhone OS.

    I expect Google, Adobe, Nokia and Microsoft to
    find this out soon.

  2. It’s amusing. Reading this article makes me feel like I’m watching glen beck. Just blatently attacking its competition, twisting facts, and desperetly trying to point out meaningless things that noone actually cares about. All just to put down Android, while not proving anything.

    Android isn’t open becuase everything little thing it’s about it can be changed by anyone. It’s open because people, like Cyanogen, can take most current publicly released verison and play with it as they please without legal issue. Something you can only dream of using an iPhone.
    That and because Google doesn’t charge makers to use it.

    But don’t forget, the ONLY reason Google is doing any of this IS TO MAKE MONEY. That doesn’t make this a closed system, it just makes Google a business.

  3. This article is surely some kind of joke? Apple are so “open” they won’t even allow Flash or 3rd party development suites on their platform! Thank you guys for giving me such a laugh ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  4. Okay — so I have a friend who had a big influence in me switching to a Mac. But this friend is also a Flash Developer (ducks) and he’s really getting pissed off at Apple and he says he’s going to get an Android phone ‘because they’re more open.’

    I told him, “There are over 185,000 apps on the iPhone. How much more open do you need? Name me one app that runs on Android that doesn’t run on an iPhone? I’m sure there are several but now name me one app that anybody really cares about?”


  5. @Switcheroo

    Google Maps Navigation. Show me a free app on the iPhone that matches that. Or the the near perfect voice recognition on the Nexus One. Just because there are 185,000 apps on the iPhone doesn’t make it more open. How many of those apps can you install on an iPhone at once. And how many can you run at the same time? Answer: one ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    Pretty pointless statistic anyway. All useful applications are now available on both platforms, the size of the app market isn’t an issue anymore.

    Google have said they are selling 60,000 Nexus One’s per day now. Enough to make Mr Jobs shit his pants. Add to that 60,000 the huge number of HTC Desire’s being shifted, and the Droid, its pretty obvious the market is at a tipping point.

  6. @Kev

    60k per day? That’s rich. As far as I remember that was what HTC sold in one MONTH.

    Oh wait, ’twas actually 50k. Sorry about that ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    Also… “All useful applications are now available on both platforms, the size of the app market isn’t an issue anymore” and “Or the the near perfect voice recognition on the Nexus One”? Talk about drinking the kool-aid.

    “And how many can you run at the same time? Answer: one “

  7. It really does not matter. Apple’s strategy is not the “closed” or “open” strategy. It’s THE strategy that cares about the user’s experience, as well as the developer’s experience.

    That’s why there are “9x” (or whatever) more iPhone customers compared to Android, and why there are who knows how many “x” iPhone developers compared to all other mobile platforms combined. And how many “x” times more download volume. The number of available apps is one thing; the total volume of downloads for all the available apps is quite another.

    The iPhone (now with iPad) platform is the only one where small developers can work efficiently with minimal resources and be on an equal footing with big developers. Small developers are why there are so many apps for iPhone, and most are going to keep working exclusively on iPhone.

  8. @ Kev

    Google Maps Navigation is a good point.

    But I probably should’ve phrased my questions this way:

    …. name me one app that Ireally care about …

    Google Maps is practically useless unless you have a good cell connection (Unless you want to plan ahead and store maps) so driving cross country or in the mountains requires an app that downloads the entire USA map database. Like TomTom which I have and love. Google Maps “for me” is a big fail.

    Voice Recognition
    Voice Recognition on the iPhone 3Gs works fantastic. Never tried Nexus One (never will, I’m hundreds of dollars into iPhone apps) but it can’t work any better than perfect can it?

    How many of those apps can you install on an iPhone at once
    Well— with iPhone 4.0 that number will be 2160. How many on an Android? 512MB? Have fun carrying around all your little SD cards so you rotate apps. Thats convenient.

    How many apps can you run at the same time?
    Well— after 4.0 as many as you want.

    <b>… the market is at a tipping point.<b>
    Lol. Ya, there will soon be way over 100 million iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices. Ya, I’m sure Jobs is shitting his pants.

    Android open source geeks are so tied into this stupid ass mindset that Apple is this walled garden.

    <b>Your quote:<b> “All useful applications are now available on both platforms …”

    <b>So tell me, just what in the hell is your point again?<b>

  9. I heard (or read) something a little while ago that mentioned how Google was going on a massive data collection binge of personal information and might sell this information to marketers, etc.

    Somebody ought to do a little digging to see if Google is doing this with their Android OS.

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