back to article Google doesn’t care who makes Android phones. Or who it pisses off

Google could use defeat in the Oracle case to take Android proprietary, reckons analyst Richard Windsor, who thinks development for this watershed event is already well underway, as we reported last week. Google would then be able to bring the ecosystem up to date much more quickly than it does today. Last year’s Marshmallow …

Page:

  1. ratfox Silver badge

    Sounds risky

    Google is already in the crosshairs of the EU antitrust commissioner for Android — and that's with Android being open source. If they make Android proprietary, they might just as well spare the lawyers and just send a cheque for $Billions fine to the EU.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds risky

      Open source or not, the problem are the required bundled proprietary services. Just like with Microsoft the problem was bundling IE and Media Player, not Windows itself.

      Google knows it has to fight the EU one way or the other. It could do it from the position it reckons more suitable for its interests even if it will have to lose something.

      1. Preston Munchensonton
        Stop

        Re: Sounds risky

        Not sure your definition of required is the same as mine. Last I checked, I can use an Android phone without signing in to Google services at all, installing my own choice of app stores from the variety available outside of Google. Of course, I have to sign in to access Google's services, but that's to be expected.

        1. moiety

          Re: Sounds risky

          You still have to run the core Google proprietary stuff or else the phone doesn't work at all. And -possibly more to the point- allow it access to the internet otherwise -again- nothing works.

          My phone has never signed on to any Google service, and has been quite enthusiastically firewalled from the start and yet it has still sent stuff back to the mothership, despite my efforts. Now in my case it's not that critical, because I don't keep any personal stuff on the phone or use it to log into anything (because I don't trust it, frankly). That isn't a luxury available to everyone.

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: Sounds risky

            > You still have to run the core Google proprietary stuff or else the phone doesn't work at all.

            That may be true of some Android phones, but it is _NOT_ true of Android in general. examples such as Amazon Fire, Nokia/Microsoft X, Cyanogenmod and many Chinese phones do not have Google proprietry stuff and still work fine.

            On those phones you can still access services and can even get Google services if you want them.

            > And -possibly more to the point- allow it access to the internet otherwise -again- nothing works.

            Nonsense. Phones can phone, message and such without internet access, they can even run local apps. If you want to use an internet service then you will have to .... access the internet.

        2. energystar
          Alien

          " I can use an Android phone without signing in to Google services at all..."

          True of the platform. Also about MS platform.

    2. energystar
      Paris Hilton

      'Flagship' buyers...

      " Only in mature Western markets does Google need a Samsung or a Sony to snag some of those high-value customers who buy flagship products..."

      'Flagship' buyers... Is Andrew 'insinuating' We Westerns are... stupid flag collectors?

  2. James 51 Silver badge

    We need something like linux for phones. Something that users can install on a wide range of hardware and still have something functional. That there are several variants of so people can focus on an area that they need/want.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Isn't that what AOSP ROMs like Cyanogenmod are?

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        Last time I checked Cyanogenmod was based on Android 4.4 and Android is on version 6. If they don't hurry up they'll soon have problems getting features and apps to run on it. If Google goes full blob it might be the end is neigh for them.

        1. dajames Silver badge

          Last time I checked Cyanogenmod was based on Android 4.4 and Android is on version 6.

          It depends on the phone. CM 13 is based on Marshmallow ... but it tends only to be an option for phones that can run Marshmallow anyway. CM isn't generally a way to get a newer Android version on a device.

          1. James 51 Silver badge

            Which is a pity. I have managed to upgrade through three versions of Ubuntu with my current desktop. When the new generation of AMD chips come out I might upgrade keeping the same OS and applications.

          2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

            CM *absolutely* is a way to get a newer version of Android on your phone

            Last phone : 2011 Xperia Pro, shipped with Gingerbread, updated to a mostly complete ICS. CM support - up to Marshmallow.

            Current phone - 2012 Motorola Photon Q with SIM card mod. Shipped with ICS. Now on Marshmallow.

            Without CM both phones would be bricks without up to date security patches. Not all phones have as much support, but many do.

            1. Mario Becroft
              Pint

              Re: CM *absolutely* is a way to get a newer version of Android on your phone

              Have a virtual beer for being a fellow Photon Q holdout. I've recently upgraded my Photon Q to CM13 and it's never run better! Just a pity we can't swap in a slightly larger RAM chip... the 1 GB RAM is really all that holds this phone back. Who would have thought the day would come we need 2 gigs of RAM to make a phone call (all right, I jest a little).

              I just wish Motorola would make a new Droid 4/Photon Q, exactly the same but with up-to-date innards. Not likely to happen unfortunately. But have you ever tried ssh'ing into a server on a phone without a physical keyboard? Not a pleasant experience. And my dad will let his Droid 4 (hand me down from me) be pried from his cold dead hands, and all he uses it for is texting. There is a market niche here...

            2. energystar
              Paris Hilton

              Cyanogenmod... Mmmmmh!

              On Android: knowing at least where the signals harvesting goes.

              But, on Cyanogenmod: Who are the MIM?

          3. AceRimmer1980
            Meh

            I had an HTC Hero, which came with 1.6. There was supposedly an OTA upgrade to 2.1, but this never happened, despite many calls to my provider.

            One root later, I stuck Cyanogen on it, and it ran 2.3.7 (gingerbread) quite nicely.

        2. mdava

          @James51: Clearly you haven't checked for a long time.

          1. James 51 Silver badge

            The first stable release of CM13 was only three months ago so not that long.

        3. Grant 5

          Funny I'm typing this right now on a Galaxy S5 running Cyanogenmod 13 which is based on Android 6 and shows a patch level of 1st June.

        4. Michael Habel Silver badge

          CyanogeMod goes all the way back to Gingerbread (IIRC), and has since expanded to v13.0 (Marshmallow - Android v6.01). Which I'm currently typing this out on.

        5. Loud Speaker Bronze badge

          James 51 - I dont know when you last checked - maybe 1963?

          Yesterday I installed a version of Cyanogenmod based on Android 6 on my Samsung S3 - a phone which was shipped with 4.4 - and my 5 year old phone is now like a new one. It doesn't do 4G, but then I live in Central London - we don't have 4G here most of the time anyway!*

          It was not something I would expect my non-technical aunty to do, but I am sure she could get the guy who sells phones in the market to do it for £5 - which is far cheaper than even a Chinese "flagship".

          * who IS hoarding all the 4G? Is it the northerners? Or have the SNP hijacked it?

      2. Bawsnia2

        Or Ubuntu Phone?

        http://www.ubuntu.com/phone

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          >We need something like linux for phones. Something that users can install on a wide range of hardware and still have something functional.

          >>Isn't that what AOSP ROMs like Cyanogenmod are?

          Alas, no - those ROMs still need to compiled beforehand to work on a specific handset.

    2. jason 7

      Nice idea chap but some (read most in fact) just want a phone that works out of the box and till the day we chuck it on the shelf 2-3 years later. All it would do is give the XDA crowd more to obsess and waste their lives on than they do already.

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        I'd prefer something like fairphone were you could upgrade it modularity and replace components as they fail.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The Ship of Theseus comes to mind here. Sort of.

          If you could swap out all the modules and replace them when they fail at which point would you have been better off just buying a new phone?

          It'd also be a development nightmare. The manufacturer of the modules will inevitably bring out newer revisions of their modules.

          This gives you even more possible permutations than the current Android phone ecosystem.

          Lastly when you've eventually swapped out all the modules for new modules how would the warranty work? At which point is it no longer considered the original phone?

          A warranty on each module would be absurdly hard to manage and comprehend for average folk.

          "Ah yes sir, but you plugged in the v2.0 camera module to the v1.2 control module, the warranty on the v2.0 module doesnt cover this"

          This opens the door to potentially unnecessary upsell.

          "Ah yes sir, you'll also need the v2.0 control module for that camera and a v2.0 touch module"

          This is A confusing for average consumers, B annoying to develop software for, and C a great way for consumers to be silently ripped off without knowing it.

          Modular phones are not the answer I'm afraid. As cool as they would be.

          Also, if my little lad got hold of a modular phone I'd likely be walking around with some modules missing quite frequently.

          Toddlers are shockingly efficient at dismantling and hiding things.

          1. James 51 Silver badge

            The model is already there in desktops and laptops.

      2. dajames Silver badge

        ... some (read most in fact) just want a phone that works out of the box and till the day we chuck it on the shelf 2-3 years later.

        Most people want a phone that works out of the box and continues to work and to be fully updated and secure until they pass it on, 2-3 years later, to a relative who uses it for the next 2-3 years and who also wants it to remain fully updated and secure in that time.

        Yes, most phone owners would never take the time or trouble to learn how to, for example, install Cyanogenmod on their phones ... but don't imagine that that means that they are happy with the idea that their phones contain unpatched security flaws. They want patches and updates, they just want them to be automatic and painless.

        1. fwadman

          I don't think so. Most users say they care about security - but then happily disable the virus scanner because some website said they needed to in order to get some (pirated) game to work. Of course because the user "researched" this by looking on the internet they know what they are doing and it's perfectly safe.

        2. jason 7

          "Most people want a phone that works out of the box and continues to work and to be fully updated and secure until they pass it on, 2-3 years later, to a relative who uses it for the next 2-3 years and who also wants it to remain fully updated and secure in that time."

          I bet if you asked the first 100 Android phone users you saw in the street 99 wouldn't have a clue about updates or really care. From talking to most customers they actually find phone updates annoying as it 'breaks stuff'. Yes ignorance is a kind of bliss.

          My Gf hates the fact her phone comes with Cyanogen on it. "Fucking nerds keep updating it!" She especially loved the last update a few days ago whereby the receive updates over wi-fi OR data had been reset by the last update to pull the 400MB in over her data allowance instead of wi-fi, while sat in the living room.

          1. Barry Rueger Silver badge

            From talking to most customers they actually find phone updates annoying as it 'breaks stuff'.

            Because it's true, whether "breaks" means, changes the UI, or removes a feature that I need, makes an installed application stop working, or (with Google) removes an entire on-line service with little warning.

            Regular end-users, who lack the skills to ferret out fixes and workarounds on the Internet, are justifiably afraid of updates.

            (My Mint box being the exception. Somehow they manage updates without breaking stuff.)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        All it would do is give the XDA crowd more to obsess and waste their lives on than they do already.

        It's arguably more productive a hobby than posting denigrating comments on forums. ;)

    3. uncle sjohie

      The average user, the part of the market where Android is firmly ahead of iOS, doesn't want the hassle of upgrading an OS. Not on their computer, and not on their phone. They want a phone that works, is safe, and still is after 2 or 3 years, after which the hardware starts to die, and it is replaced.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They don't even care it is safe. It has to work, run "crappy bird", "slapchat" or whatever app is fashionable, until a new more fashionable model is out, at a a price they can afford.

        1. dajames Silver badge

          They don't even care it is safe. It has to work, run "crappy bird", "slapchat" or whatever app is fashionable, until a new more fashionable model is out, at a a price they can afford.

          They care, they just don't know it. They'll know they care as soon as someone in the criminal fraternity works out how to access their mobile banking app.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Just like they care on their Windows machines?

      2. Joe 35

        They want a phone that works, is safe, and still is after 2 or 3 years

        ======

        But the " is safe" bit isn't true, especially "after 2 or 3 years"

        Of course if the users are in blissful ignorance then they may still be content.

      3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        > after which the hardware starts to die,

        It seems that, more often, it is the 'street cred' that dies. They laugh when you pull out your 2 year old phone, so you have to buy the latest model.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sure, for about 1.4% of the phone market it will work....

    5. bazza Silver badge

      Linux for Phones

      To get the proper Linux for phones the hardware architecture and bootloader needs to be open.

      This is what we have on PCs. Like them or loathe them, MS set a very useful PC hardware and architecture standard. Conform to that standard and you got a sticker for your PC saying that it'd run Windows. Linux benefits (even now with the optional Secure Boot) because there is a stable common hardware spec (albeit one with a wide range of possible peripherals and devices), so it's easier to make a One-Linux-Fits-All distribution.

      MS tried the same thing with phones. Conform to their hardware standard, Windows Mobile will run. AFAIK it's not an open standard like a PC, so it's not reusable in the same way the PC standard is.

      I think the best thing MS could do is to open up their phone standard. Dunno if it'll help, but they've nothing to lose by doing so. Google are heading towards a proprietary hardware standard, MS's open on might be more appealing for manufacturers.

      That'll put the focus on Google's proprietary services being anticompetitive...

      1. oldcoder

        Re: Linux for Phones

        That wasn't Microsoft.

        That was manufacturers not liking IBMs heavy handed approach.

        The manufacturers used a reverse engineered BIOS to boot whatever OS was wanted, and independently of IBM and Microsoft...

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: Linux for Phones

          @OldCoder, I'm talking about the PC design guides, which are more recent than the BIOS wars. See Wikipedia.

          As far as I know every PC nowadays is basically a PC2001 on steroids...

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: Linux for Phones

            > As far as I know every PC nowadays is basically a PC2001 on steroids...

            That is merely defining the term 'PC' as something that fits what PC2001 requires it to. In fact PC2001 was just a list of features that were already available in most 'x86 PCs' at the time and did not create anything new.

    6. Oliver Burkill

      Like Tizen ? Which comes with support of the Linux foundation.

    7. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      > We need something like linux for phones.

      Android _is_ 'Linux for phones'. Linux is the kernel of Android.

      Perhaps you meant 'GNU for phones' or 'KDE for phones'. Well you can do that too. Maemo/Meego was 'Linux/Gnome for phones' and later, 'Linux/QT for phones' from Nokia and would run such desktop programs as Gnumeric, Abiword and OpenOffice.org. I wrote stuff in Python/Glade that would run unchanged on N800, Windows and desktop Linux.

      There is also Ubuntu for phones, Tizen, Jolla and probably some others.

      You can also run GNU stuff on Android such as Terminal-IDE.

      Just go and buy them otherwise they will fold for lack of demand.

    8. TimNevins

      Already available

      You can get the SailfishOS(from Jolla)for mobile , or Ubuntu Aquarius from BQ

      It's a start

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Don't blame the OEMs

    Google, with its perpetual attention deficit disorder, never sat down and thought properly about an update mechanism for Android.

    Android Wear devices are also bitrotting. It's not as if they didn't know there was an update problem before designing AW.

    Once is carelessness, twice is on purpose? It seems obvious that Google doesn't care about OEMs, they just want the advertising. Cheapy Chinese manufacturers don't care about Google, they just want an OS to stick on it. It's not a future anyone particularly wants.

    Silver's cancelled, and the conclusion is that Google has won? I hope not. Perhaps western OEMs will switch over to Tizen or something. It'd be in their own best interest.

    If Google ever rock up in court complaining about Dalvik runtimes it'd be funny.

    1. fandom Silver badge

      Re: Don't blame the OEMs

      But blame them too.

      The Silver program would have required OEMs to release upgrades for their silver phones.

      Naturally, they refused.

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: Don't blame the OEMs

        Don't forget to blame the OEM's, carriers and regulators. Google has never had enough power to force any of them to provide product support. They all learned from Apple that conceding any control at all was bad and unlike Apple, Googles Nexus line didn't grab enough market share to frighten any of them.

        Endless API churn in the kernel it's built on doesn't help either, once the manufacturer stops updating their binary driver blobs you're usually locked into that release of Android. That's something Goggle should have controlled and had the power to do.

        There's plenty of blame to go around.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Don't blame the OEMs

          >Google, with its perpetual attention deficit disorder, never sat down and thought properly about an update mechanism for Android.

          They didn't have a choice - The way most ARM-based systems were designed doesn't allow for a one-ROM-fits-all (Linux distro-style) updating. Google bought Android in, as they were desperate to catch up with the iPhone. That was at the beginning.

          In Act 2, silicon was advancing so much that two-year-old phones weren't really worth updating. It's only been the last couple of years that older phones have been good enough to keep using (though of course a new budget, but pretty good, Android phone won't break the bank).

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019