Sounds like an opportunity for Linux for phones
Absent the kind of politics described above, perhaps Linux is a better bet for the Chinese smartphone business*.
* Well either that or a fork of Android, just like Amazon and Nokia.
An obscure court case in India appears to have dented hopes of the mobile industry weaning itself off Google dependency - and has raised questions about the goals of Cyanogen and its backer, a Silicon Valley VC firm with close ties to Google. In the cosy world of Menlo Park VC firms, Andreessen Horowitz (or "A16Z") is as close …
There are already LOTS of China phones (and tablets) with Google free android. That's not a problem.
But unlike Amazon* they don't have an app store so people google for instructions to install the google apps, or use dodgy app download sites.
Google free is not the problem. Having something else to replace the Google bits is the problem.
As Amazon have shown it's possible to build a Google free android device (more the tablets then the joke of a phone). But is Amazon "less evil" then Google, or Apple...
But don't even think about building a non-Apple IOS device. You could build a WinPhone, but you are going to have one of them there evil secret agreements and good luck with not using the MS app store.
* Nokia's android was still born, only surprise was it lasted as long as it did.
>>"As Amazon have shown it's possible to build a Google free android device (more the tablets then the joke of a phone). But is Amazon "less evil" then Google, or Apple..."
Doesn't matter - they're competition. Helps keep technology open and prices fair and promotes merit. It's largely a distraction to focus on "Good vs. Evil", I prefer to focus on "good vs. bad".
The problem being that phones are very much about user interaction and Linux is just a kernel. So Linux solves the hardware interaction problem but that's all. It'd be more appropriate to say that FirefoxOS or Ubuntu Touch or Sailfish or something else is the smart choice and leave the Linux component implicit. But even then: where are the apps and where are the cosy carrier agreements you need to launch a mass-market phone?
".....or a fork of Android, just like Amazon....." I looked at the Amazon Fire Phone when it came out, hoping it would provide an Android phone free of Google cruft like Faecesbook. Unfortunately it just had Amazon cruft instead, and an awful "3D" interface. I did consider one just for the rage it would cause Greenpeckers (http://www.teleread.com/kindle/greenpeace-deluges-amazon-fire-phone-with-one-star-protest-reviews/) but what I really wanted was a phone that doubled as a Linux phablet with a command prompt (like the old Psions).
I still have a Psion Series 5MX in mint condition. What I wouldn't give to have it upgraded with today's tech in the same form factor.
Likewise I'd still like to see same for the old Nokia Communicator. Yes it can still stay bit bulky to ensure long battery life. Decent high res screen on the inside, eink display on the outside.
Guess there'd be no chance of it being Series 80 with OPL these days (if they ever did release a new version that is) :-)
> I still have a Psion Series 5MX in mint condition. What I wouldn't give to have it upgraded with today's tech in the same form factor.
PalmOS was my own preference, but same idea. The modern-day "smartphone" is a sorely inadequate substitute for the PDAs we used to have. Back then you could synchronize your dta locally, and were in full control of that data. Now you have to use a multitude of apps, each with their own walled-garden data storage, and to sync you have to send your data halfway around the world to some dirt-floor datacenter in a 3rd-world country, only to send it back to a destination device nerelt 2 feet away from the source. USB cable? Anyone??? Bueller??
I believe it was Acer which, as an Android licensee, got slapped down for wanting to release an AOSP-based phone. The prevailing wisdom was that Google threatened to revoke their Android licence/certification if they went ahead with the product launch.
Apparently, the look and feel requirements that comes with an Android 4.4 & 5.0 have been ratcheted up a big notch, i.e. no more blanket SD Card access, search bar required on every home screen and even the placement of the Google apps in the app folder.
Most of the AOSP stock apps have been left to rot and have been replaced with closed-source Play Services dependent versions. This is a significant gap to fill for anyone wanting to build a competative AOSP-based handset, cf. Amazon's FireOS.
The Far East definitely have the nous to roll their own. I'm surprised they've not yet pulled the same stunt as with Symbian...common base OS/services, FOMA on top. At least then they own the application level and, at least for now, Dalvik and ART are still AOSP.
Personally, I'd say that the Open-Source, Google-free Android is as good as dead.
No commercial vendor will touch it.
They'll rather build Windows Phones.
Or rather, get out of the phone business all together.
Because while it gets cheaper and cheaper to build a phone (hardware-wise), it gets more and more expensive to build a good phone that lots of people are willing to spend more money on than a cheap Chinese Android phone costs.
Top Tier: Apple
Middle Tier: Windows Phone
Low-End: anything Android
In three years, nobody will build high-end Android phones anymore - simply by virtue of the fact that almost nobody wants to buy them!
Much like Microsoft back in the day had shadowy industry organizations to do their evil bidding, Google has a shadowy VC firm do theirs.
Well, not "evil", exactly, just "business", since if non-Googley Android was to succeed it would destroy Google's whole reason for buying and developing Android. But regardless of what you call it, it is anti-consumer as it gives the Android community less and less variety the more Google tightens their grip around Android.
why did A16Z-backed Cyanogen insist on territorial exclusivity for a platform, if it seriously wanted that platform to succeed?
If I had to guess, I'd say Cyanogen was offered a large sum of money by Micromax for exclusivity in India.
Or possibly, they absolutely wanted an Indian deal, and they proposed exclusivity to Micromax, who was afraid of getting its feet wet then finding a field crowded with competitors.
The more I think, the more I believe the second hypothesis. After all, even Apple offered exclusivity to AT&T in order to get the iPhone out the door.
This might show poor judgment from Cyanogen, but it's hard to believe in a nefarious plot from Google on this one.
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