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. I like Googles services like e-mail, earth, docs, picasa etc. and Chrome is pretty good. But the company seems to be a mess of departments each doing their own thing, like 2 OS’s, and Chrome OS is barely a complete product, and Picasa and Panoramio, seemingly doing similar things, confusion over these too. If Google doesn’t start integrating it’s services, exerting control over it’s products and STOP releasing very “beta” products to the public they will just lose direction.

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