Google attempts to clean up fragmented Android mess; mobile ‘partners’ unhappy, complain to DOJ

“Playtime is over in Android Land. Over the last couple of months Google has reached out to the major carriers and device makers backing its mobile operating system with a message: There will be no more willy-nilly tweaks to the software. No more partnerships formed outside of Google’s purview,” Ashlee Vance and Peter Burrows report for Businessweek. “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 [former Apple engineer] Andy Rubin, the head of Google’s Android group.”

“This is the new reality described by about a dozen executives working at key companies in the Android ecosystem,” Vance and Burrows report. “Some of those affected include LG, Toshiba, Samsung, and even Facebook, which has been trying to develop an Android device. There have been enough run-ins to trigger complaints with the Justice Dept., according to a person familiar with the matter.”

“When Android hit the scene in 2008, Google had a tantalizing pitch: Android was ‘open source.’ That is, Google would do the hard work of developing the code, and hardware and software makers were free to use the system at no charge. Carriers and device makers relished the idea of not paying royalties,” Vance and Burrows report. “As Google introduced Android updates, each named after a sweet, devices of varying capabilities flooded the market… It isn’t easy for consumers to keep up—and the same goes for software makers, who have to retool apps for every version and device to give their products a consistent look and feel.”

MacDailyNews Take: Fragmandroid.

Vance and Burrows report, “Google owes it to its partners and consumers to prevent Android from running amok. And yet murmurs abound that Android’s master has tightened up too much—that its policies limit licensees’ ability to differentiate their products. “The premise of a true open software platform may be where Android started, but it’s not where Android is going,” says Nokia Chief Executive Stephen Elop, a former Microsoft executive who recently inked a deal with his former employer instead of Google. He says he did so in part because he thought he would have more opportunity to innovate atop Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 software.”

MacDailyNews Take: You don’t get high up in the executive ranks at Microsoft without being able to shovel bullshit by the truckload.

Vance and Burrows report, “Google has also tried to hold up the release of Verizon Android devices that make use of Microsoft’s rival Bing search engine, according to two people familiar with the discussions. It’s these types of actions that have prompted the gripes to the Justice Dept., says a person with knowledge of the matter.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “Open” in name only, yet still a royal mess.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “jmmx” for the heads up.]

52 Comments

  1. Sounds like Google’s realized that their “open” marketing spin hasn’t helped them in the marketplace. So they’ll toss it aside to better serve their business interests.

    It’ll be interesting to see the tortured rationalizations that the open-source Google fans will have invent to justify this move. They already have to eat crow regarding their denial of Android fragmentation, as Google themselves have acknowledged it, according to the linked article:

    Over the past few months, according to several people familiar with the matter, Google has been demanding that Android licensees abide by “non-fragmentation clauses” that give Google the final say on how they can tweak the Android code—to make new interfaces and add services—and in some cases whom they can partner with.

  2. This new restrictions isn’t really about ‘better for user’ but rather ‘try to get more money for Google’.

    Google doesn’t really care about Fragmentation if they can still sell ads and services , they DO care when Fragmentation means OEMS are loading up on Yahoo, Bing, Baidu or hijacking Android code to make variants like OMS that don’t run Google services or Android Apps (where it makes no money). That’s why they are restricting Honeycomb to stop hijacks by chinese tablet makers.

    New rules is to help Google keep making money of android : ‘OEM want to use Bing? Feel the Pain’.

  3. I’m drinking an RC cola and admiring my cousin’s Plymouth from the stoop of my sister’s double-wide while I type this on the Android that Pa got with some chickens when he agreed to marry my uncle’s ex.

      1. No doubt, as Faux correct the lies coming from the All Obama Network brought to you by the failed Air America Democratic Liberal Losers that are now televised on MesSNBC funded by leftist hack GE who probably gets funding from the anti-American George Soros and let’s not forget the most NOT trusted name in stupidly politically incorrect news that couldn’t keep anything or anybody honest if they tried!…

  4. The adage “If it looks too good to true, it probably isn’t.” pretty applies here. These phone companies, desperate to compete with the iPhone, fell for the old “bait and switch”.

    Shame on the phone companies for being so gullible to think the the free ride would last forever. And shame on Google for pretending to be an altruistic band of really cool people, when it is simply another corporate entity attempting to maximize its own profits.

    1. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but the saying is actually,

      “If it sounds (seems/looks) too good to be true, it is.”

      Explanation:
      When the full thought is expressed, this is how it reads;
      “If it seems ‘to good to be true’, it is ‘too good to be true’, so it’s not true.

      It’s a valuable cautionary phrase, and I wouldn’t want to see it bastardized.

  5. Open source my ass. This has turn in a total cluster f**k for Google but especially is device makers. The only direction for Android OS is onward and downward, hopefully straight to the toilet.

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