Google Tightening Grip on Android - Less Open, "Open Source"

This is a discussion on Google Tightening Grip on Android - Less Open, "Open Source" within the Android News forums, part of the Android.net category; 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" ...

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Thread: Google Tightening Grip on Android - Less Open, "Open Source"

  1. #1
    Editor in Chief dgstorm's Avatar
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    Google Tightening Grip on Android - Less Open, "Open Source"


    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,
    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.
    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.

    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: Bloomberg - Businessweek

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  3. #2
    Android Enthusiast RayBan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgstorm View Post
    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.
    If I understand this correctly, it seems that Android is becoming no less open source than before, but instead Google is trying to exhibit some control over the manufacturers and carriers in an effort to improve the end-user experience on their customized skins/ROMs and to limit bloatware that I don't think anyone ever actually wants.

    I don't see their branches disappearing off of github anytime soon or anything... Likewise, I don't see it changing anything at all about custom ROMs made by the dev community or the public's ability to write apps. There is nothing about this that compromises its openness. Google is doing a very difficult thing and cracking down on complacent manufacturers whose ideal would be putting 300 apps on a phone which they get paid for and "so what" about the end-user experience and never fixing bugs in their own code or ever pushing out updates. These are also the same manufacturers that had people waiting for Froyo for months on end and who blatantly drag their feet on fixing bugs.

    Why? Because it's not a priority for manufacturers or carriers. We bought the phone, we're on a 2-year contract. There's nothing WE can do about it. But Google CAN do something about it, and they are. Because they don't want Google and Android to be associated readily with the borderline negligent and exploitative business practices of carriers and manufacturers alike. And good for them for trying to put an end to bloatware and just overall bad business.
    alostpacket likes this.

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    Super Moderator/RS furbearingmammal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgstorm View Post
    ... too much control completely ruins the idea of "open source".\
    Um, open source means the code is available for public review, comment, and editing -- all of which is at the discretion of the original publisher. They can allow or deny any edits they see fit, or publish whenever they feel it's read. There's no real timeline on publishing the code; in fact, many applications become "open source" years after they've been sold as "closed source". Android is Google's baby and if they want her to mature a bit before turning her over to the ravening, exploiting horde, that's their business.
    RayBan likes this.
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    Android Lurker dtdlurch's Avatar
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    I'm sure Google is under a ton of pressure to control the beast that is Android from competitors, carriers, and the government commerce dept. I don't think it can all be blamed on Google wanting to control it. Sure, that's part of it. But this platform has grown fast. And many others are jumping on board to get a piece of the pie. Google should try to implement some controls, but they must be careful in doing so otherwise they will destroy the advantages that Android brings to the market.

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    App Developer alostpacket's Avatar
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    I think this is great. The carriers and manufacturers were getting greedy. They were starting to see Android as the way to get back to the $2 15-second ringtone days where they could gouge the consumer at every turn. I think it's perfectly reasonable to expect some compliance from the OHA when they are being given a viable competitor to iOS. Differentiation is great, but custom chargers, unremovable skins, and bloatware that prevent security updates, just cause problems for the brand as a whole.
    Last edited by alostpacket; 04-01-2011 at 11:48 AM. Reason: typpppoozzz
    furbearingmammal likes this.

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    Android Addict alphawave7's Avatar
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    $Y%#T Bloomberg..no one reads their propaganda anyway. :|
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    Android Enthusiast RayBan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphawave7 View Post
    $Y%#T Bloomberg..no one reads their propaganda anyway. :|
    lol suuuuure they don't

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