Editor in Chief
- Dec 30, 2010
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- Austin, TX
In a pattern of behavior that has several mobile partners upset, Google appears to be tightening it's control of the open nature of "open source" in regards to the Android OS. An article from Bloomberg/Businessweek indicated that several executives working for companies within the Android community of mobile partners have expressed frustration with Google recently over this pattern.
The Bloomberg article described the last few months as a message from Google to its partners,
We recently reported on one example of their behavior, that Google will be holding back the source code for Honeycomb indefinitely. Another example is that Facebook is apparently trying to come up with its own Android handset and that Google has made them jump through several hoops and must allow Google to review any custom tweaks to Android. Supposedly, there have even been complaints to the U.S. Department of Justice from Microsoft claiming that Google has held up certain Verizon handsets because they came with the MS Bing search engine onboard.There will be no more willy-nilly tweaks to the software. No more partnerships formed outside of Google's purview. 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 Andy Rubin, the head of Google's Android group.
Google's partner system that was once truly easy and truly "open source" has since grown harder to navigate. Apparently, Google is attempting to regain control of a "final say" over any customizations made to the Android OS. Now, Google is demanding that its partners abide by its "non-fragmentation clauses" to stem the tide of junky software ruining the Android experience. Google has publicly stated that it is simply seeking to stabilize the platform and ensure quality control as well. The Bloomberg article said Google had this to say,
Google says its procedures are about quality control, fixing bugs early, and building toward a "common denominator" experience, says John Lagerling, director of global Android partnerships at Google. "After that, the customization can begin."
It's easy to see both sides of the equation. From Google's standpoint, they want to improve the Android experience as much as possible to remain competitive with iOS and others. On the other hand, too much control completely ruins the idea of "open source". It's a fine tight-rope they have to walk, and for now it seems, their balance has swung a bit more on the "less open" side of things.
Source: Android.net via Bloomberg - Businessweek