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back to article Google defends drowning Acer's newborn Alibaba Linux mobe

Google exec Andy Rubin has defended his advertising giant's decision to block Acer from launching a mobile phone for Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, claiming the Android ecosystem is quite fragmented enough. The phone was supposed to launch on Friday, but hours before the event Acer, the handset's manufacturer, pulled out …

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WTF?

"what appears, at a glance, to be clear abuse of market power."

Where is this abuse of market power? If Alibaba wants to release a OS that is an android variant, and if manufacturers want to release phones running that OS, they are still free to do so. But if that OS won't run all android apps, and if apps produced for that OS won't run on Android, then don't expect to have google play store on it, and don't expect support from Google.

In what is this abuse of market power?

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Re: "what appears, at a glance, to be clear abuse of market power."

Yes, if Google don't want to support the manufacturer for those devices, that's fine.

But Google told Acer that they would not get support for *any* devices if they released phones running Aliyun. That's anticompetitive, and feels a little like late-80s Microsoft.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "what appears, at a glance, to be clear abuse of market power."

You seem to have missed the bit where Google told Acer that they were out of the OHA, should they release a phone for Alibaba, which would be the abuse of market power.

Imagine if MS told HTC that they couldn't produce phones for Android, if they still wanted to produce phones for Windows?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "what appears, at a glance, to be clear abuse of market power."

Indeed, they wanted to Close the Open Handset Alliance to Acer. The "Open" in that title is clearly just marketing drivel.

But why would Microsoft want to stop HTC selling Android phones? IIRC Microsoft make a pretty penny off every Android device sold by HTC, at least.

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Thumb Up

Re: "what appears, at a glance, to be clear abuse of market power."

"Imagine if MS told HTC that they couldn't produce phones for Android, if they still wanted to produce phones for Windows?"

Yes, they would only ever say exactly those words to Nokia...

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Re: "what appears, at a glance, to be clear abuse of market power."

Mostly correct, you just have to add that OHA members are not allow to support such OSes.

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Re: "what appears, at a glance, to be clear abuse of market power."

Alibaba wern't using Google Play or any of Googles own Apps or for that matter asking for Googles support. They agreed with Acer to design and manufacture a phone for them. Still on a positive note I guess we can now expect Google to insure that all official Android phones can run all the Apps from Google Play and that they will make sure there are no more pirated Apps, good for Android developers if it ever happens.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "what appears, at a glance, to be clear abuse of market power."

Googles version of OPEN, you free to make any phone we agree you can make.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "what appears, at a glance, to be clear abuse of market power."

I wasn't saying MS would want to do that, just think about what would be said if they did do that.

It often helps to imagine the same scenario with other companies involved as some companies are rather emotive and others get support despite what they do. The whole "don't be evil" thing does make lots of people think that Google are a nice, fluffy group of guys who aren't in any way a massive ruthless corporate multinational. MS are often thought of as a ruthless corporate multinational and tend to get talked down, no matter what they do.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "what appears, at a glance, to be clear abuse of market power."

So how do you explain the Google Apps in their "store" along with copies of Angry Birds and other apps (which the developers never gave permission to be distributed).

It sounds like Alibaba were on very dodgy ground.

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Coat

Re: "what appears, at a glance, to be clear abuse of market power."

"Imagine if MS told HTC that they couldn't produce phones for Android, if they still wanted to produce phones for Windows?"

I sometimes have a feeling that that is what MS did with NOKIA.

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Flame

Speaking of Nokia...

...don't Alibaba have their number? If WinPho tanks any further Nokia may not give a stuff what M$ say to them.

But for the record, as an Android user and advocate this is yet another totally sucky thing done by Google. Not evil but monopolistic anti-competitive practice for sure.

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Re: "what appears, at a glance, to be clear abuse of market power."

It would seem that Google are saying that Acer can't stay in the OHA if they are also going to work with this company. That doesn't mean they can't make Android phones although it probably does mean they wouldn't be able to preload them with the key Google apps. Now introduce the fact that Acer is producing it for a company that is blatantly pirating Google apps and frankly I'm surprised that Acer are doing business with them. It would be a bit like building a media player for The Pirate Bay...

Whether that is an abuse of market power or not really depends on the contracts between Acer, Google and the OHA. You can bet that with at least two sets of high-powered lawyers drawing up those contracts there would be little room to shoehorn in terms amounted to an abuse of market power. I repeat - Google couldn't stop Acer building Android hardware if it left the OHA, it just wouldn't be able to licence the Google apps and therefore preload them.

Would Microsoft licence WP8 to a company that was producing nearly-WP8 handsets for a company that was distributing pirate copies of Microsoft WP8 apps? I don't think so.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "what appears, at a glance, to be clear abuse of market power."

"So how do you explain the Google Apps in their "store" along with copies of Angry Birds and other apps (which the developers never gave permission to be distributed)."

The only Apps that Google make, need their services so they are happy, you try using Google mail without access to googles severs. Or are you saying that Google suddenly want to stop piracy in any store but their own?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "what appears, at a glance, to be clear abuse of market power."

Google just told Acer that it would not be allowed to build Android phones if it built a phone for a compatitor based on "the so called open Android" software. Google also declined to mention what "pirated" Apps were in the store.

Microsoft and BMW along with others have proven that the Chinese govenmeant are willing to come down hard on IP theft, this isn't the cowboy days of the 80's and 90's. With so much manufactoring being done in China they realise that having strong IP protection is in their interest, just as the Japanese did before them.

The simple fact is that Google used it's power to stop a competitor from being able to compete with it by threatening a suplier.

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anticompetitve?

Is it the same PC manufacturer that would not reimburse you an imposed anticompetitive Microsoft bundled license, unless you ship the machine to their facility at your own expense?

Google told Acer that they would not get support for *any* devices if they released phones running Aliyun. Not a big deal? Acer gets the Android code free, right? Why not getting the source and develop it on their own?

There might be a possible problem of Aliyun that uses Linux kernel to not comply with GPL though, since no one has heard of them publishing the code.

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Re: anticompetitve?

Way to miss the point eulampios: Acer being shite and failing to seriously address the Windoze tax doesn't exonerate Google from flagrantly using their monopoly position to further their own interests at the expense of a potential competitor and ultimately end users.

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Re: anticompetitve?

Ian, I don't find any anti-competitiveness in how Google reacted. Google is not perfect, e.g., using Apache license instead of GPL was not the best solution here that allowed so much proprietary junk in the ARM kernel builds. Google doesn't sell its Android, it gives it for free, but it asks something in return. Unfortunately, GPL does not protect Android from this kind of "rip-offs", forks would be OK though

Were Aliyun free, It'd be another matter...

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Facepalm

Hmmmmmm....

And yet Apple is a walled garden lol

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Re: Hmmmmmm....

"And yet Apple is a walled garden lol"

Indeed. However, it doesn't let OEMs use it's OS and then use blackmail when the OEM is so dependent on it and then does something that might compete (or reduce the dependency.

Google really are starting to pick up where Microsoft left off - bullying hardware outfits into submission. Microsoft got it's bottom spanked by the courts - I wonder if Google will get that far?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmmmmmm....

Apple never bleeted on and on about how "open" they were.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmmmmmm....

"Google really are starting to pick up where Microsoft left off - bullying hardware outfits into submission. Microsoft got it's bottom spanked by the courts - I wonder if Google will get that far?"

I'm an Android dev and up until this whole mess had quite a high standing for Google. It had started to dither except that now we find out this Aliyun is distributing pirated Android applications (Google's included) on their store - this I think is a borderline good reason for this. We'll see if Google pressure Acer over WP8 phones.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Sock puppet

Shame Google don't care about the pirated apps they get paid to distribute in their own store.

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Linux

MS vs Google

Doesn't MS sell its OS to their partners and Google gives it for free? See the difference? Where's the analogy then?

Another matter is that Aliyun is not open and might not comply with GPL, hence I don't give damn.

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Meh

Perhaps

Alibaba were going to be saying something that implied it was Android when it was really only mostly Android and not running an official version which would be passing off as Android when it wasn't really?

Who knows, there doesn't really seem to be enough information to say, not that it'll stop some demographics having a go ;o)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Perhaps

Or they didn't and there is more than enough information from Andy rubin himself but hypocrites have to justify being hypocrites.

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Re: Perhaps

Alibaba were going to distribute a phone that was 'almost' android and were stocking up their app store with pirated copies of Google apps. In other words they were going to surf off the back of Google, paying no licensing fees but creating an unholy mess and discrediting Android further in the process - by making it look totally crap and incompatible with itself.

I would much rather Google cracked open the big guns and pointed them at Alibaba, they could have been much more circumspect about the whole Acer thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Perhaps

Nice Lie, Googles apps dont work without access to Googles servers, when have Google cared about anyone elses IP. Why didn't they take action against Amazon which is doing the same thing? You now Amazon which is selling more tablets than all other Android tablets combined?

They didn't take on Alibaba because they knew they couldn't make a case against them, Alibaba has a simple IP policy "if we are hosting pirated IP, tell us and we will remove it", thats the same policy Google has with Youtube and their App store. Thats why they went after Acer.

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Anonymous Coward

Good Thing

Android adoption is skyrocketing in Asia (just got back from Taiwan and Hongkong) and my subway who is using what metric shows 90% Android adoption, vs 10% iOS.

In otherwords, there is no need for the "AlibabaOS", everything is just fine as it is.... It will only hurt consumers.....

What Google did was in their own interest, for sure, but it was ALSO in consumers interests....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good Thing

So choice is now bad?

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Re: Good Thing

Why is it in consumers interest that the only OS available for phones in Asia is that delivered by an ad broker?

People so ingrained to "Apple = EVIL, Google = GOOD" that when something comes up to contradict that, they have to pervert it so that it is a positive.

Google shutting down competition is not good for consumers. You've argued long enough that Apple shutting down competition is not good for consumers, so why when Google do it is it "in consumers interests"?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good Thing

So 90% market share is a good thing? it's always worked for Microsoft eh?

Choice is good or would you rather that 90% of food on-sale was just McDonalds burgers?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good Thing

Choice is only good if Android is the only option it seems.

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Anonymous Coward

"TechInAsia argues that Google should see Alibaba in court"

"TechInAsia argues that Google should see Alibaba in court"

Yes, because that's worked so well in the past, we all know the Chinese legal system's record on IP or copyright issues involving western companies.

So really, Google's options were:

1. Let Aliyun OS run, Acer (and others) release products based on it, let it get some kind of foothold in China, while they slog through the courts wasting money towards the inevitable loss.

or

2. Use their weight and influence to nip it in the bud, by leaning on someone heavily reliant on the Android ecosystem, done.

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Re Good Thing

"What Google did was in their own interest, for sure, but it was ALSO in consumers interests...."

Wouldn't it be better if consumer's made that choice, rather than Google (who I suspect might be a little biased?)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re Good Thing

Why that's crazy talk! Next you will be expecting governments to go in favour of consumers instead of the various lobby groups.

(Previous posts have compelled me to tag on a message stating that THE ABOVE IS SARCASM)

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Pirate

Yarr!

Got to laugh at the owners of youtube complaining about piracy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yarr!

At least on YouTube there's the DMCA/legal routes. Try resolving piracy in China.

While you may snigger at "the owners of youtube complaining about piracy", it's not just Google's applications being pirated, but a whole range of Android applications - many of those developers have no hope of doing anything about it. Google's weight and the OHA threat are backing all of those developers too.

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Meh

AlibabaOS

and whilst I can see why Google might want to hold OHA members responsible for adhering to the conditions of that partnership... I can't fully grasp why you would act so aggressively. If anything, they should put pressure on Alibaba to contribute meaningfully to the ecosystem.

A major part of the problem for Google is that most punters have no clue what various license agreements mean, and when something is "open" you reasonably expect people should be able to muck about with it. But sadly that isn't really the case for companies like Alibaba seeing $473 billion in sales last year, and basically taking other people's work and plagiarising it... oh wait. etc

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Re: AlibabaOS

You can do anything you want with Android code, like the Russians and countless others have done, but OHA members are not allow to release hardware with that modified code on it.

However even their, Google may have limited that hardware clause to only phones an tablets, several OHA members have release hardware in other categories with modified version of Android an have not been threaten with expulsion from the OHA.

It seem to me that this is a case of aCER not reading the fine print of the membership forms they signed to join OHA. Google stamp on them so hard because they are a minor player and them going off sulking about it is of little threat to Google Android plans.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AlibabaOS

AlibabaOS was the threat to Google in China, Google has removed that threat and made it clear that they wont allow anyone to make an Android phone if they make an AlibabaOS phone. So much for "Choice" & "Open".

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Mushroom

..........."Google's response is to argue that while Aliyun isn't Android it does make use of Android frameworks and tools, and includes an Android runtime which has really upset the Googleplex:

"Aliyun uses the Android runtime, framework and tools. And your app store contains Android apps (including pirated Google apps)," says the blog posting from Andy Rubin, concluding: "If you don't want to be compatible, then don't expect help from OHA members.".........."

As I see it Google looked at this OS, said to themselves "They are using our IP without our OK to produce an OS and App store with apps that they don't have permition to use" That is blatant theft, Google then saying to Acer that if they are part of the theft of Googles IP then they can no longer use that IP seems to be to be far and resonable.

If Alibaba want to have their own OS they should not be using Googles Android and donig a parcial rewrite but like others should take Android and add their own extras like HTC sence etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Keep drinking the Kool-Aid

Alibaba didn't use any of Googles IP, all Google has is a claim of some pirated IP in the online store. Will Google shutdown youtube and remove all the pirated IP there, no chance. It's a crock of shit to stop a competitor but since it's Google, well everything is OK.

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Facepalm

Re: Keep drinking the Kool-Aid

"Alibaba didn't use any of Googles IP"

So you're saying Rubin has just slandered Alibaba by directly accusing them of doing things you know for a fact are false?

I'd love to see your evidence for that.

You don't make such a bullish statement (Rubin, that is) when part of a large company without several lawyers seeing it first...

Steven R

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Re: Keep drinking the Kool-Aid

Actually, they're both right.

Alibaba, clearly has nothing to do with Android and only modified their O/S so that it could run some (not all) android apps. There's no issue about copying or otherwise.

Google, is right to use membership of OHA to threaten Acer. If you're a member then don't go about doing incompatible stuff.

Simple solution 1: Go the Amazon way, fork it and build it NOT using an OHA member as your OEM. (Surely there must be others willing to do the job)

Simple solution 2: Go the Samsung way, have Acer build your stuff but make your O/S distant and not overlapping with Android (a-la Bada)

P.S. Morality, ethics and values play no role whatsoever when it comes to commercial decisions whether it's Google, Apple, Microsoft or Mr. Patel's cornershop.

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Anonymous Coward

Open Souce?

"the definition of open: "mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make""

Anyone can check out and build code, but it seems Google has the last say on if you can release your product. That's not very open source like is it?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Open Souce?

Not at all, my friend!

A lot of other companies are doing this, including some obscure one called Amazon and, what do you know, Google has nothing against that. Even Acer is free to do it, all they have to do is give Google a finger and sign off from OHA if they don't like the rules.

See, a little bit of accurate information could take you very far down the rational thinking path. I know, going along the line "look how evil Google can be" is way much easier on your brain.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Open Souce?

No, your OHA membership which states you will not build incompatible versions of the OS are what have last say of if, as an OHA member, you can release your product which breaches your OHA membership. Get it?

Acer, an OHA member have created an in-compatible Android product. Yes, Google may be using this fact as leverage because of the pirate software, but that doesn't mean Acer aren't breaching their OHA membership agreement.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Open Souce?

Google pretends to be open and give people freedom. They even show you how easy it can be to get their code and make it.

But in reality it is their code and they tell people what they can and can't do with it.

So Android is hardly the platform of freedom if the only people who can create Androids builds or use Android code without being controlled are underground hobbyists.

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