Google Are Passive Leaders, Not Regulators
(This is a guest post by Michael Heller from ThisGreenMachine.com. The original article can be found at this link.)
I have tried over and over to write this column, but it never seems to come out right. Originally, I wanted to talk about how the coming wave of proprietary app markets from Verizon, Android, and others would be stifling choice, and hampering the interconnectivity of the Android community. I wanted to talk about how the mobile carriers are inherently untrustworthy, and any scenario that allows them more control is dangerous and should be fought.
The more I consider it, the harder it is to draw the line between exclusivity and proprietary, as I did before. There is a longstanding tradition in the tech world of proprietary software on PCs. But, in the mobile world I have been trying to delineate between proprietary (custom UIs & widgets), and exclusive (Skype/Verizon). However, this thinking has been pushing me away from the real issue, which is that Google is trying to have its cake and eat it too. It is hard to accept that Google’s motto “Don’t be evil,” does not extend to “Don’t let others be evil with our products.” Google wants to be the arbiter of Open, but doesn’t want to take responsibility for it.
Google created Android and introduced a truly open market, but never took responsibility in making sure “open” did not mean “lawless”. Google brought in many quality manufacturers to make great Android handsets, but will not take responsibility  for a consistent UI (skins & button layouts) or user experience. Google wants to be on every device, but has lagged behind in providing an optimized OS  for new hardware. Most recently there have been multiple announcements of proprietary Android Marketplaces from companies like Verizon and Amazon; and, while I’d love to see Google regulate these markets, it seems like false hope. But, maybe it’s not as terrible a future as I’d originally believed.
Maybe this hands-off approach is actually the best way to follow in the footsteps of Windows and create an OS that can appeal to Luddites and power-users equally, an OS for all niches. For those who are less technologically inclined, you have the safe harbor and rounded edges of Verizon handsets. You won’t find an unmodified OS, but there will be a clean, curated Marketplace. For those with a little more tech savvy, you can still get the wild-west Android Market. Then, for power-users, there will always be an option for stock Android as we’ve seen with the G1, Nexus One and G2, as well as a rich OS mod community. 
To quote my colleague Dave,  “Just because an option isn’t one I personally enjoy doesn’t give me the right to tell others they can’t have it either.” I may not trust carriers, and I may not like how they are moving to close off an open system, but obviously Google, the only company able to reverse the trend, is unwilling to regulate their creation. So, what reasonable solution can I really expect to the problem? Maybe the answer is both the cause of and solution to most of Android’s problems: choice.
Google isn’t the company to mandate OS upgrades, but they are the company to release the Nexus One and indirectly bring the issue to a head by showing how fast updates could be. Google won’t regulate a unified user experience, but they will try to improve their product to make skins pointless.  Google likely will not stop the coming proprietary app markets, but, if history has taught us anything, they will take control of their own Android Market and give a better experience. They will always make sure there is a clean and authentic Google experience with options like the Nexus One and G2. Google, as always, wants to lead by example, and not regulate the user-experience like other companies. The best we can do as users is to choose the best experience, and push everyone to keep improving.
References:  Nanocr  Search Engine Land  TG Daily  XDA  This Green Machine  TechCrunch