back to article Google 'clamps down' on world of Android partners

Google has not only decided to keep the Android Honeycomb source code closed for the foreseeable future, preventing all but a few select partners from using the latest version of its mobile OS, it has also clamped down even harder on those select partners, telling them they can't make changes to the platform or form partnerships …


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  1. Blue Buddha

    Yay, Flamewar!

    This should be *fun*!

    1. Ilgaz

      Now Meego wasted too...

      Well, sadly it will get boring after couple of years. Thanks to Nokia puppets and Intel geniuses selected them as partner and _still_ trust them, there are only 2 "smart" platforms left. iOS and Android. Windows phone doesn't count as it is some weird silverlight shell.

      I mean, just couple of years ago the smartphone market was fun to watch like 80s computer market.

      OS flamewars? to prove which is less evil?

      I started to think about a good 3G S40 feature (dumb) phone and a netbook myself. I am not choosing between any of these fake operating systems. It is absurd that J2ME ended up the most open and compatible thing out there. At least it doesn't claim to be heroic savlor of masses. Everyone knew Sun and they know Oracle.

      1. pan2008


        Open Source only for marketing purposes...

    2. RichyS


      I'm looking forward to this. Think I'll grab myself a coffee and settle in for the morning; lobbing in the odd grenade from time to time!

  2. vlc

    Probably a good approach

    Android is still an infant and not ready to be completely weaned from Google's guidance. I don't want incompatible or confusing versions of Android. Until, it has matured some more, Google is on on balance probably correct to take this approach.

    1. Chris Haynes
      Jobs Halo


      Don't you already have incompatible and confusing versions? Each manufacturer adds their own UI and various tweaks.

      1. Paul M 1


        Isn't that the point of why Google are doing this?

        1. Anonymous Coward

          @ Paul M1 in a word... No

          Google is listening to their lawyers.

          They have a couple of lawsuits that are ongoing and being open works against them.

          1. Paul M 1


            Not at all - that makes no sense. As I read it (and really most of Cade's stuff should be labelled "op-ed" - if "the facts paint a very different picture" then please tell us which major vendors are more open than Google) Google want to avoid fragmentation by insisting that, if you want to use their proprietary stuff you must stick to an acceptable interface etc which is reasonable - let's be honest, no Android users want to see a fragmented landscape. And the comparison to Windows desktop software is just so far off the mark - fragmentation doesn't exist in the desktop world where you don't need to run everything in full screen and memory, disk and graphics updates are but a credit card away.

            So you can still use Android to your heart's content and modify it as you see fit - you just can't then take Google's proprietary stuff that, despite the article, is not part of Android.

            Having said that, it does give Google an opportunity to start doing an Apple and arbitrarily ban devices etc that impinge upon its territory and I would prefer to see a definitive set of guidelines that show what is and isn't permitted.

            But at the moment the jury is out and I will personally give them the benefit until I see otherwise...

    2. dave 93
      Jobs Halo

      Google needs a hardware partner...

      ...if it ever hopes to get close to the user experience and price points of Apple iOS devices. My money is on Motorola as an 'all-american' acquisition target. Motorola is worth about 20 billion as of now, which is affordable by Google.

      I guess that if my prediction comes true, there will be a lot of 3rd party Android device manufactures either left out in the cold, or forced to be one or more versions behind the 'official' Googarola devices.

      Oh, I almost forgot - hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha - Steve was right again!

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Assuming you are right

        Which A. You probably arent.

        And B. You are not a trolling fanboi.

        Then HTC are a much more sensible acquisition target. HTC will be a name brand for the Growing Asian markets well in excess of the shot bolt that are Moto

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      That is all...

    4. Anonymous Coward


      You don't want incompatible or confusion versions of Android? You should have voiced your concerns to the carriers modding things long ago. As an enterprise IT service provider supporting at 10-12 different Android-based devices, it's nightmarish, to say the least.

      The great thing about Android is that it's openly modifiable and endlessly customizable. The bad thing about Android is that it's openly get the point.

  3. Eduard Coli
    Gates Horns


    Like Google has anything to worry about, look how much the trust busting did to M$.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      You don't think WP7 is a result?

      While much of the onerous stuff resulting from the judgment vanished almost immediately upon the change of US president, I tend to think that making it much harder to deny that Microsoft had damaged the industry set the stage for their decade of failure to succeed in new markets (the Xbox being the only exception). It's not just because of products like the Zune, out of date almost immediately upon release (as a regular iPod clone just before the iPod Touch came out), but also Windows Mobile - which was around a long time before the iPhone-inspired smartphone boom but failed to gain any traction. I think a contributor to that was an industry consciously resisting a manufacturer with an antitrust track record and consumers being similarly wary of a tarnished brand.

  4. Jolyon Smith

    Avoiding 1984 doesn't necessarily mean a return to the 60's

    Google want to offer a *choice*. There is nothing to say that their alternative to Apple has to be more open than Apple's offer. There mere fact of a Google alternative existing creates choice, and it is the availability of choice that Google see's as A Good Thing™.

    For myself, I think that Apple's control over their platform is a huge factor in their success. You buy Apple, you know exactly what you are getting, consistent content and consistent quality - they are the McDonalds of technology.

    With Android currently you get a local cafeteria experience. Most cafeterias offer very similar menus, but the exact menu and the quality of the delivery varies dramatically from one establishment to the next.

    My take on it is that Google want to ensure that Android doesn't lose it's way but becomes the "Burger King" choice.... the same level of consistent content and quality offered by McDonalds, but a different menu and a different style.

    That intent has become conflated with the degree of "Openness", most often by those with an axe to grind against Google, looking to critique everything that they say..

    But how "Open" or not Google/Android is has little to do with their aim of offering choice.

    Any number of commodity products are created to serve markets with a huge variety of choice, and a vanishingly small number of those products are "open".

    When was the last time we heard anyone criticising Sony (or anyone else) for not being "open" when developing a new TV to compete with Samsung, Sharp, Phillips etc etc ...

    1. Paul M 1


      Quite right. Additionally some people seem to fetishise one particular type of openness without remembering that (IMHO) the most important aspect of openness that Android provides is the ability to run whatever I want on my device (if I had one) rather than only what is available in the one store on the street.

      1. dz-015

        Freedom to run whatever you like??

        "the most important aspect of openness that Android provides is the ability to run whatever I want on my device"

        Sure... just so long as the stuff you want to run doesn't get remotely deleted from your device by Google.

        1. Paul M 1


          "just so long as the stuff you want to run doesn't get remotely deleted from your device by Google"


          That applies to Apple's iOS and most certainly WinPho7 and don't worry, it will be part of OS X, Windows whatever and probably Linux (if you want to connect to our Internet...) within a very few years if it's not already there.

          If that's your worst fear about Google then you must be a very happy chappy (sic).

    2. thecakeis(not)alie


      "When was the last time we heard anyone criticising Sony (or anyone else) for not being "open" when developing a new TV to compete with Samsung, Sharp, Phillips etc etc ..."

      When was the last time Sony tried to create a proprietary interface and ram it down everyone's throats? People rip Sony a new one ALL THE TIME for being proprietary douches. The difference between TVs and phones however is this little thing called STANDARDS. TVs accepts a STANDARD input and proceed to display it. Phone manufacturers/devs/carriers obey few such rules.

      1. Jolyon Smith


        People may well complain at Sony for being douches, but they don't complain that they aren't OPEN!

        As for the "standards" - tablets/phones etc are exactly the same as TV's in this respect.

        Be it GSM, MMS, PXT, GPRS, EDGE, etc etc - THESE are the standards that are comparable to TV broadcast standards.

        What we are comparing with Apple vs Android vs WebOS etc etc is not compatability with those standards, which is just as much a given as TV compatability with broadcast standards, but the user interfaces and firmware in the devices which provide the specific features of the devices that differentiate them from the competition.

        Sony has the XMB in their TV's - love it or hate it, that's their choice. But you can't say "the XMB sucks because it isn't 'Open'" or that Phillips TV firmware is better *because* it is 'open", because NOBODY makes TV's with open firmware!

        But there are dozens of TV manufacturers, all offering choice.

        Google merely want to participate in the offering of choice in the smartphone space - that choice doesn't have to be 'open' in order to be a valid choice.

      2. Martyn Welch


        "The difference between TVs and phones however is this little thing called STANDARDS. TVs accepts a STANDARD input and proceed to display it. Phone manufacturers/devs/carriers obey few such rules."

        Eh?! So if phones don't follow standards, how is it you can buy an unlocked mobile; separately get a SIM card from any of the network operators; whack it in and make a call?

        1. thecakeis(not)alie

          Y'all don't apparently live in North America

          Here, the "standards" phone companies follow are mostly geared towards ensuring lock-in. GSM does exist in a limited fashion, but there are still plenty of carriers using equipment that can't be moved from network to network. There are plenty of manufacturers using proprietary connectors to shuffle data on/off the mobiles…or even charge the bloody things!

          The mobile industry has a few absolutely required standards – such as those used to talk to the base stations. The rest are utterly voluntary and very unevenly implemented. To the detriment of the consumer!

    3. The Taft Hotel

      True Open Source Branch

      With all the recent events, I would like to see developers take the current open source code and create a "true" open source branch from that. One not controlled by Google.

      A lot of the custom android ROM floating around now are much better than the Google stock roms or any from any manufacturer. Google holding back source except for it's key partners really holds back android.

      If they didn't really want to do open source, they should have done it all themselves including the kernel and vm, instead of taking all the code that was developed in the spirit of true open source and then operating as closed source.

      come on! BRANCH!!!!

      1. Ru

        Re: True Open Source Branch

        " I would like to see developers take the current open source code and create a "true" open source branch from that. One not controlled by Google"


        There's no shortage of custom OS images for non-Honeycomb android devices, some more user-friendly than others. Have a peek at some of the work mentioned on modaco or xda-developers. I use streakdroid myself. In theory, one should be able to rebuild the OS images for any android phone of Gingerbread/2.3 vintage or earlier. In practice, as with normal desktop hardware, there are no shortage of closed source binary drivers out there that hamper this activity.

        1. Zolko

          binary drivers

          "In practice, as with normal desktop hardware, there are no shortage of closed source binary drivers out there that hamper this activity"

          put that in light with the recent information about the Android kernel headers.

          I have a Dell Streak too (didn't try Streakdroid though, is it really good ?) and wanted to install MeeGo, but it's not possible because of these binary drivers.

          An a normal desktop, you can install any flavour of Linux even with binary drivers: they're only "blobs" with an open-source interface.... which is lacking in Android *because* of the modified kernel headers.

      2. Paul 135
        Thumb Up

        yep, this would be the best

        A nice fork would be good. all the handset manufacturers could get together (MPEG-style) and define a multi-company standard for a manufacturer-independent application platform.

        Even funnier would be if they got Microsoft on the standards consortium, and did a deal to include Bing Search and Maps. Google would then REALLY have egg on their big arrogant face!! :D

    4. Anonymous Coward

      LMAO !!!!

      i got as far as ....

      "you buy Apple, you know exactly what you are getting, consistent content and consistent quality - they are the McDonalds of technology."

      than you lost all credibility....

      McDonalds sell $H1T... all in a nice package and lots of advertising to tell you its better than it actually is... but its still $h1T!!

      And I would sooner have a Burger King any day of the week to a crapDonalds !!!

      flame, coz mine is a flame grilled whopper !!

      1. RJ


        All he said was that you get consistent quality which is what McDonalds offers.

        He never made a commend on how good that quality was...

        1. Anonymous Coward

          constant quality?

          constant quality is a vary rare commodity, particularly accross fast food chains and dare i say it... mobile phones...

          Not far from where I used to live several years ago was a KFC, but I would drive passed that one to go to another a few miles up the road because The closer one was bad, fries were soggy and cold, they would very rarely get the order correct.

          Same with crapDonalds, go to one and order a mcflurry, one outlet you will get a reasonably filled tub of frozen lard with a generous sprinkle of topping. another outlet (I refuse to use the term restaurant) you get a tiny dollop in the bottom and hardly any sprinkles.

          crapDonalds may claim that "constant quality" is all important, it may be the case that it is important to upper management, but to the staff on the counters on minimum wage as well as treated like shit. (check it out next time your in crapDonalds, they are not allowed to have pockets in their uniforms, unless you are a supervisor), they don't give a shit if your burger is hot or cold. or if your fries are crisp or soggy... they don't pay them enough to care...

          and to get back to the alleged constant quality of crapple products, they dropped the ball a bit on the iphone4 that does not work if you hold it in the wrong hand, unless you add a fugly "bumper" to it. just for starters....

          the crapple fanbois will not accept that crapple products have flaws just the same as the junk food fans wont accept that crapDonalds sell shit...

          mines the one with the htc desire in the pocket, at least I can fix any software flaws i may find !

      2. Anonymous Coward

        I fail to see ...

        where the analogy broke down. Both Apple and McDonald's provide an entirely consistent experience. Every iPhone is exactly the same (ridiculous one button, crap multitasking and memory management, random sad faces) and every McDonald's burger is the same (mysterious gray meat, hot, greasy bun).

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Quote: "There is nothing to say that their alternative to Apple has to be more open than Apple's offer."

      However, that is precisely what Google did say, that they were "open" unlike that nasty, closed Apple lot: it wasn't that they were an "alternative" to Apple, it wasn't that they were a "choice" in addition to Apple, it was that they were "open" and not closed like Apple. Only complete fucking idiots believed them of course but, as the comments on anything iOS or Android will attest to, there is a fucking enormous number of them.

    6. RichyS


      But the problem is that Google banged on about how 'open' Android was, and how this was such a good thing.

      For the record, I think the approach Google are now taking is probably the correct one. However, it does rather make a mockery of their past assertions on the openness of the platform.

      I don't particularly think Google are malicious, or tried to mislead anyone at the outset. I suspect that they did intend for Android to remain open (well, fairly open). But the fact remains, they've gone back on what they said. They've been called on it, and they look a little stupid.

      Google is in the business of making profits. Therefore they only left Android open for as long as it suited Google, not the wider 'open source' community.

      And it turns out that Steve Jobs was right. That must stick in the craw of Droidtards and Penguinistas everywhere!

    7. ThomH Silver badge

      Ummm, not quite right

      The main groups that have continuously shouted about Android being open and that being one of the reasons why it is better are (i) Google; and (ii) a particular, vocal segment of Android users. It's those that support Android that have conflated openness and a bunch of other issues, not those that seek to detract from it.

      I agree that the conflation is unhelpful and often misguided. I strongly disagree that it is mainly the product of "those with an axe to grind".

    8. Paul 135
      Big Brother

      Wrong. It's the classic "bait and switch" con.

      You're completely missing the point that Google constantly touted its OS as "open" to the handset manufacturers. The handset manufacturers jumped upon the bandwagon assuming that they'd be able to customise this "open" OS as they saw fit. Now it appeats that Google seem to want complete control.

      This is good for neither handset manufacturers or consumers, as Google don't always make the best decisions e.g IMO some of Sony Ericsson's latest Android tweaks are better than stock Android.

      A better approach that Google could take would be to require all handset manufacturers selling "Google Experience" Android to provide unlocked bootloaders (as SE say they are going to do), drivers for their hardware, and an easy way for the end-user to install stock Android if they wish.

  5. Graham Marsden

    "According to the report...

    "...Google has also tried to prevent partners from bundling rival services such as Microsoft's Bing search."

    Err, guys, remember how people got the option to install Chrome on their PCs instead of having IE as the default...???

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is going to be a real boost for Amazon's Appstore. Once device manufacturers can outfit Android as they see fit, and not be bound by Google's marketplace, let's see how many are going to remain in the fold.

  7. Carol Orlowski

    How long can Google legally delay

    releasing the Honeycomb Gingerbread source before they fall foul of it's opensource licence?

    1. Paul Shirley

      that's not how copyright or OS works

      Until they release it as Open Source it's not under an OS licence. An OS licence cannot 'infect' the copyright holders private copy, despite Microsoft/SCO/Oracle's best efforts to FUD the issue. And that includes their *original copy* of what was released as OS.

      So, they can delay forever should they choose.

      1. Martin Owens

        Not quite

        Their personal copyright or anything weakly licensed can be kept closed. Anything GPL though will have to be released in source format as per section 2(b), unless they own the entire copyright on the GPL piece... and last I checked, google don't own the linux kernel; so that at least should be available.

        Everything else though, will probably have to be rewritten from scratch with a proper license.

        1. Anonymous Coward


          Enjoy your Kernel. Best of luck building a competitive OS from that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      >How long can Google legally delay

      As long as they like, since everything under GPL in 3.0 has already been released.....

      Holding back the source makes sense commercially especially since Circles and GMS are under NDA - no chance of seeing the source until that's lifted unless you're in OHA.

      I won't expect to see it until the Nexus Tablet launch in Autumn, but then I don't need to, the SDK has been out for ages and despite the FUD that's what developers actually need.

  8. DrXym Silver badge


    I reckon it's Amazon that Google are worried about and the tablet they are almost certainly working on which will be built around Amazon's services, not Googles.

  9. Trib

    History really does repeat itself

    I trying to remember. Wasn't there a browser at one time called Netscape and another company that made an operating system also made a competing browser. This operating system company used their influence to prevent manufactures from including the Netscape browser with their system?

    Didn't everyone get really upset back then and say it was wrong?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What you are missing

      Is this is cuddly google, you know "Do no evil", durrrh.

      No true fandroid is going to slate google for doing this, despite it having the same potential to be come as much Kool Aid as the Apple numbnuts.

      Take your locked down choice of Apple Soda or Chrome Soda

      1. Shannon Jacobs
        Big Brother

        EVIL is the keyword for Google these days

        Where is the parent post to which this seems to be a reply? Something weird going on here...

        Anyway, my basic take is that Google is just being forced to play by legislative rules that oblige American companies to become evil. The rules were basically written by paid tools (AKA bribed professional politicians) per the orders of the most immoral and money-focused businessmen. The primary objectives of these laws were primarily (1) to legally protect themselves from the consequences of all the times when they skated too close to the legal limits and (2) to create new slack for new money-making opportunities at the edge of the new limits. In other words, the referee is corrupt, and Google is just learning to play the game, though I haven't heard that Google is evil enough to be bribing the politicians. YET.

        At this point, Google probably deserves it's own icon, but I'll use Big Brother, since I think that's the natural outcome of Google's increasing evil.

      2. Ilgaz

        The real shame is

        Just like Adobe, Google manages to prove Steve Jobs right. Android isn't really some java on top of linux.

        Linux is/was that Neo thing (stupid managers) and Meego. That is open, Android isn't. I also think soon or later they will get into trouble like MS in 90s and those old judges really don't buy cool company mottos. I bet people at ms sees Android desktop, Chrome browser amd wonders what would happen to them if they dared to tie everything to MS services.

        As Symbian owner, I hate the Nokia's decision but a Nokia smartphone wouldn't function without being activated by Google doesn't make sense too.

    2. Brangdon

      History isn't repeating itself

      People said Microsoft were wrong because they were using one monopoly to create another. Specifically, they used a monopoly on desktop operating systems to create a monopoly on Internet browsers. The current situation is different because Google do not have a monopoly on phone operating systems.

      (Google arguably have a monopoly on the Internet search market, but that's not what they are leveraging here.)

      1. Ilgaz

        Lack of critism will kill them

        Google is an advertising giant and most of news outlets depend on them to make money, pay wages.

        Google is not getting or will never get the massive critism MS gets when they do wrong and that lack of critism and "fans" will eventually lead them to really bad places.

        Ordinary people, not just 24/7 firewall watching paranoids have become sick and tired of their information vampire, as long as it is open source, no matter how your app behaves attitude.

        Seek Google "news" for Google update checker. Now seek blogs, download sites (perfect feedback treasure) to see how mad the ordinary people has become by its "check every 2 hours, keep checking" attitude.

        Just imagine MS decided to check for updates every 2 hours and installed all of them without even bothering to ask user. Can you imagine the media outburst?

        Ps: If you are UNIX type, update checker is also a SUID type app.

  10. Paul Shirley

    spinning like a dizzy top

    Gotta love the flip flopping, no sooner is the Reg finished whining about fragmentation in Android that it starts complaining about efforts to reduce fragmentation! Getting dizzy yet?

    Honeycomb isn't currently Open Source - can't be without the source. But you need to realise that copyright holders don't abandon all rights by open sourcing, they've simply given you additional rights. Your extra rights extend only as far as the *copy* you were licensed, the copyright holder can do what he likes with *his* copy and any derivatives. Calling Honeycomb OS right now is premature (but I wonder if they have in fact done that) but that's as far as it goes, you either believe it will *become* OS or not.

    Meanwhile my G1 phone is running Gingerbread because that version has been released to OS. Running 2.3.3 before most of those Google partners got official builds out the door, on a phone where official upgrades ended at Android 1.6! No need to suggest forking Android, AOSP already is that 'fork'.


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