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.]


  1. Anyone know if Netflix has delivered an app for Android yet? They haven’t been able to create one due to the fragmentation. Man, I love watching an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus before falling asleep each night. Crisp and clear on my iPhone 4.

    1. Being closed isn’t bad. Claiming your open so you can dupe people into using your software is kinda bad…it’s at least underhanded. The only thing Android had going for it was it’s seeming openness (though that was really a fantasy anyway). Without even that perceived openness they have no chance against iOS.

      Really Google doesn’t care about android that much, they do but then they also don’t. They only care about selling ads, Android lets them sell ads and collect info about folks for better adds, but so does iOS (though iOS gives them less data). They win either way. For them the only important thing about Android is that it sells ads for them.

  2. if FaceBook in particular comes up with its own smartphone, it will certainly “fork” Android – like OPhone in China – with a non-Google version of its own design. maybe making a deal with Amazon for its app store.

    why? because those guys are totally arrogant and think they are the next Google.

    and very possibly the OEM’s will begin to do this too. the Amazon app store was what they all needed to go rouge.

    Fragmentation? you ain’t see nothin’ yet!

  3. Don’t you see?!
    Get your so-called enemy to throw out cheap, poorly built, fragmented product to the desparately drowning hardware companies. Give them a defunct, crippled, weapons to compete. All the while the “Old PC Alliance” crumbles, infighting spreads and their whole world emplodes. (Could it have been the strategy all along while Steve and Eric were having coffee one day, planning the end of the dark days of the PC Alliance?)

    “scrambled the enemy has become” – Yoda

    1. This conspiracy theory has been posited here before, and although I’m sure it’s bogus, it sure is fun to think about, isn’t it? What if Jobs and Schmidt colluded to create this whole scenario in advance, even planning the impending law suit agains HTC?

      Naw. Never happened.

      1. Yeah I agree it’s not likely to be true and if it was a bunch of people would be in very serious trouble. It is fun though. I often thought that must be what Microsoft is doing with Apple but really it’s just Microsoft’s own incompetence. It’s like they couldn’t do worse if they tried.

  4. technically Facebook doesn’t even need to fork Android

    just use OS, but create a Dalvik VM runtime (a true one, not the stupid Playbook one) so all Android apps would be instantly compatible

    then people with so little social skills that they don’t know how to make a proper phone call would buy a Facebook phone

    1. Exactly. Android is Open Source and Google are stuck with it that way. If Google does one little thing contrary to their Open Source licensing, they’re screwed.

      Possible outcome: If Google get ticked off enough, they could abandon Android. No one else is going to pick it up and run with it! The hardware companies are all FreeTards.

      And maybe: Google would then come up with some alternative OS that they DON’T make Open Source. If that becomes the case, I see much hilarity in our future from loads more FreeTard contentiousness. 😀

  5. What happen to this stupid geeky response to sjobs?

    “mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git:// ; repo sync ; make”

  6. Maybe some of the Android phone makers will just make plain old regular cell phones (you know… the kind of phone that the vast majority of cell phone users actually need), instead of so-called “smart” phones that busy bodies who can’t leave their work at work insist on using to impress themselves and others. The only other functions I’ve used on any cell I’ve had are the clock (I haven’t had to wear a watch for years) and alarm (which has been convenient, but isn’t absolutely necessary).

    BTW, does anyone know how the non-Apple community is taking this Goog Android news? I don’t normally check PC sites, but I do get a ZDnet ezine newsletter almost every day and have yet to read anything in it that indicates they are even aware of this. Obviously, they are but have yet to comment on it.

    I wonder why (naah… not really).

  7. I read the first few comments and jumped to the end seeing the way this has been taken. Google has the right to limit when its code reaches people open source means the ability to change and modify the way someone wants to you can even charge for open source. Now Google wanting to get rid of as much fragmentation as possible is not closing the source or making it remotely close to how apple operates(so fanboys keep saying thats why you want an android device). All these companies will still be able to modify and alter the code in anyway they want. Some may just have to wait longer for the opportunity to modify it.

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