Just last week we shared a story with you about a Chinese company named Alibaba accusing Google strong-arming Acer to stop them from releasing the Aliyun competitor OS. It turns out that the story was partially true, although as is usual in cases like these, the specific details make things a bit clearer.
After Alibaba's public accusation, Google's Andy Rubin weighed in on the subject via Google+. As it turns out, Google really did ask Acer not to continue forward with the Aliyun OS, but the reason wasn't because Google felt threatened by the new OS. Apparently, the Aliyun OS is a knock-off, "forked version" of Android. Google had no problem with Acer wanting to sell their products with competitor OS, and in fact Acer is working on Windows 8 handsets as well. The problem Google had was that Acer is a member of Google's Open Handset Alliance (OHA), and Google sees Acer using the Aliyun OS as a violation of the OHA agreement not to use forked versions of Android. Here is Andy Rubin's initial statements,
Alibaba's vice president of international corporate affairs, John Spelich, responded, claiming that Aliyun was not a "fork" of Android, and that Google was "just speculating." He also said,We were surprised to read Alibaba Groupís chief strategy officer Zeng Mingís quote ďWe want to be the Android of ChinaĒ when in fact the Aliyun OS incorporates the Android runtime and was apparently derived from Android.
While Android remains free for anyone to use as they would like, only Android compatible devices benefit from the full Android ecosystem. By joining the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), each member contributes to and builds one Android platform -- not a bunch of incompatible versions," reads the agreement that phone makers like Acer have signed.
He also criticized Android as not being open, and that because of the distribution system Google incorporates for content they act as a gate-keeper. He elaborated,Aliyunís runtime environment, which is the core of the OS, consists of both its own Java virtual machine, which is different from Androidís Dalvik virtual machine, and its own cloud app engine, which supports HTML5 web applications. Aliyun OS uses some of the Android application framework and tools (open source) merely as a patch to allow Aliyun OS users to enjoy third-party apps in addition to the cloud-based Aliyun apps in our ecosystem.
Of course, Andy Rubin fired back with what seems like the most logical and damning argument,[W]e are an ecosystem that includes other Internet companies, whereas Android does not because it provides apps through downloads. Itís the crux of the whole cloud vs. app debate. Cloud is open, apps system is closed because it is controlled by the operator of the apps marketplace.
What do you guys think? Was Google "being evil" to push Acer away from Aliyun, or where they doing the right thing by protecting the integrity of the OHA?Hey John Spelich ó We agree that the Aliyun OS is not part of the Android ecosystem and youíre under no requirement to be compatible.
However, the fact is, Aliyun uses the Android runtime, framework, and tools. And your app store contains Android apps (including pirated Google apps). So thereís really no disputing that Aliyun is based on the Android platform and takes advantage of all the hard work thatís gone into that platform by the OHA.
So if you want to benefit from the Android ecosystem, then make the choice to be compatible. Itís easy, free, and weíll even help you out. But if you donít want to be compatible, then donít expect help from OHA members that are all working to support and build a unified Android ecosystem.