back to article Get ready for Google's proprietary Android. It's coming – analyst

Google is preparing to seize control of Android with its own proprietary closed-source version of the mobile operating system, an analyst claims. Technology analyst Richard Windsor says that a highly confidential internal project is underway to rewrite the ART runtime, removing any lingering dependencies from the freely …

  1. James 51 Silver badge

    What will happen to the likes of cyanogen when that happens?

    1. toughluck

      They'll probably continue with what's available for a year or two and then give up?

      Unless they find serious financial backing and are able to hire full time programmers, I doubt they can survive.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      If you're installing Cyanogenmod, you already have to download the Google apps (Google Play, GMail, Maps etc.) separately, so I guess it'll more more of the same.

      The commercial Cyaonogen OS will probably buy into GMS like any other manufacturer. Or they'll try and set up their own ecosystem which will almost certainly fail.

  2. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Speaking as a consumer ...

    All I really care about, is to be able to buy a phone, and have control over what crap I do - and don't want on it.

    So if this means no longer having to have a "Facebook" app I never use, bring it on.

    And don't get me started on the "Motorola" or "Samsung" apps I can't remove.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Speaking as a consumer ...

      "All I really care about, is to be able to buy a phone, and have control over what crap I do - and don't want on it."

      So what do you do when you come across a closed market where NO phones are customizable and all the existing customizable phones are hopelessly out of date?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Speaking as a consumer ...

        >all the existing customizable phones are hopelessly out of date?

        Out of date? If it still makes phone calls and sends texts, it won't be out of date. I'm aware of the good work done by people on XDA, but really, they are often trying to customise something that should have been good enough to begin with, bringing bugs and security holes onto the process. I'd be interested to see a percentage figure for the number of phones that run an Android version that din't come from the vendor. It's a phone, not a toy.

        Android has slow updates because of its architecture - Google were in a hurry to catch up with the iPhone at the time. The way ChromeOS updates show how Google would like things to be done.

        1. boltar
          Flame

          Re: Speaking as a consumer ...

          " It's a phone, not a toy."

          It might not be a toy, but when it comes to Millenials its the equivalent of a baby's dummy for them. If they can't find out what their never-met-them-irl "best friends" ordered via Deliveroo last night or how many other paranaoid neurotics are on this weeks fad diet of liquidised lettuce and bird droppings, then they have an existential crisis and can't cope. Have you no sympathy for these poor creatures?

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: boltar Re: Speaking as a consumer ...

            "....If they can't find out what their never-met-them-irl "best friends" ordered via Deliveroo last night or how many other paranaoid neurotics are on this weeks fad diet of liquidised lettuce and bird droppings, then they have an existential crisis and can't cope....." Well, up until recently, that is. A fortnight ago I was asked if we had any "flip phones" on the company's approved phone list. Turns out Taylor Swift has been snapped using a "dumb" flip phone so now they're all the rage again. It would be ironic if the iPhone and Android were both killed off by Swiftees!

            Of course, the diehards can always do what we used to do with Linux - ride MS's coat-tails. We used to buy MS-capable PCs and put Linux on them, so why not buy cheap Windows phones and just develop phone Linux to go on top? Oh, hold on a sec - already planned (it's called Ubuntu for phones.....).

          2. Down not across Silver badge

            Re: Speaking as a consumer ...

            Have you no sympathy for these poor creatures?

            No.

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Speaking as a consumer ...

          >Out of date? If it still makes phone calls and sends texts, it won't be out of date.

          If it has a security bug which means that anyone in the world can access all your data on it or can charge premium rate calls to it - and your supplier doesn't offer an update.

          So it can make calls and send texts but you daren't turn it on - then it is "out of date"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Speaking as a consumer ...

        "So what do you do when you come across a closed market where NO phones are customizable and all the existing customizable phones are hopelessly out of date?"

        Dance with the Devil and buy an iPhone? ;-)

        1. MrDamage

          Re: Speaking as a consumer ...

          Or go back to using a dumb phone, with a laptop and 4g dongle for Web based stuff.

      3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Speaking as a consumer ...

        So what do you do when you come across a closed market where NO phones are customizable and all the existing customizable phones are hopelessly out of date?

        Weep

    2. Phil Kingston Silver badge

      Re: Speaking as a consumer ...

      So be prepared to pay more for it - if the bundling of bloat helps subsidise the handset cost, then the cost will only increase if you want a clean device.

      Or, you could search around for a clean device - there's plenty to choose from. An almost limitless variations if you're prepared to stick a 3rd party ROM on there.

    3. HamsterNet

      Re: Speaking as a consumer ...

      Route it.

    4. joed

      Re: Speaking as a consumer ...

      I'm not sure that shifting towards the model that MS is trying to force onto their customer base is any better. The only thing that changes is centralized control of cr-apps you're being served. Unfortunately we've got trained that mobile platform should be locked

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    "The mobile industry’s failure to build an alternative stack to Google’s services"

    Their failure to following the moving target that is Play Services? They might as well write their own OS, it'd be easier.

    Amazon managed it, or at least some of it, but nobody likes their app store. You can't have an alternative to Play Services but keep the Play Store.

    Of course, if Oracle gets their way, it'll be moot. There'll be no building an alternative to anything.

  4. joeW

    Bit worrying if its true

    Android/Google basically morphing into the new Windows/MS. Cue much "No Google, you were supposed to bring balance to the force" angst.

    Whats Richard Windsor's track record like on calling this sort of thing by the way?

    1. TVU

      Re: Bit worrying if its true

      "Android/Google basically morphing into the new Windows/MS. Cue much "No Google, you were supposed to bring balance to the force" angst.

      Whats Richard Windsor's track record like on calling this sort of thing by the way?"

      So far, this report remains unsubstantiated...but it wouldn't surprise me if Google went down this route. They seem to be going down the standard route of principled start-up --> increase in market share --> dominance --> abandon all principles --> power, corruption & greed.

      I know of one instance where they sent in their legal heavies to "encourage" a Linux OS developer to change the name of their Linux distribution because they didn't like it (they succeeded).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @TVU Re: Bit worrying if its true

        "I know of one instance where they sent in their legal heavies to "encourage" a Linux OS developer to change the name of their Linux distribution because they didn't like it (they succeeded)."

        Which one ? (Curiosity, I guess, though maybe the G-men obliged him to change more than just the name ?)

    2. eclairz

      Re: Bit worrying if its true

      They did bring balance to the force but like the Jedi false reasoning, balance usually implies a equal amounts. And based on the films the Jedi outnumbered the Sith by a large margin so Darth Vader balanced it by killing all the Jedi, until there was an equal amount of Sith and Jedi. In terms the number of Windows devices to Non-Window devices are much more balanced so not sure why complain about balance. Balance != Justice and sometimes anarchy is just better than organisation, however Google have opted for the latter, but like Microsoft they started off as the former.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bit worrying if its true

      You serious... Google long ago became the evil guy in the room... MS/Apple have nothing on them any more... Kind of like how the Taliban look at ISIS and think.. "geez, these guys are taking things too far". Hahaha

  5. vgrig_us

    Complete fantasy, none of the arguments make sense, not even a little - the one with copyrighted APIs is downright stupid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh? The Red Book is a critical interface if you wish to design audio CDs. Can you get that for free? What about all the other closed-door interfaces out there that require paying to play?

      1. vgrig_us

        I don't need "The Red Book" if i'm not calling it "The Red Book CD" or "CD" at all, so - thanks for making my point for me...

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Windows

          To think that Stallman slept underneath his desk and coded during the day to ensure API compatibility between the open and closed version of LISP machines (which of course went out of fashion soon after these heroic efforts) and now APIs have become the next West Bank of "Intellectual property" fetishists, to be partitioned, patrolled, assimilated and "monetized" slowly but inexorably.

          Some kind of "industry" we have got ourselves here.

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          If you plan to make an audio CD that correctly plays in all the players on the market, or make a player that can correctly play all those CDs, then yes, you need the "Red Book" which specifies the formats and so on for them (IOW, it's the interface for making audio CDs). And last I checked, you have to PAY for the Red Book. And there are plenty of other interface books you have to PAY to access.

          1. vgrig_us

            Wow-wow-wow - are you saying that if i make and Red Book compliant audio CD, but never claim it to be one, never call it that, or even "CD" or "Compact Disc" - i'll call it, say, COpD instead - that i still have to pay them? that sounds very wrong - i mean legally: any lawyers want to chime in?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    Could be interesting....

    ...especially if all the Asian manufactures get together and dump it like a hot potato.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Could be interesting....

      "...especially if all the Asian manufactures get together and dump it like a hot potato."

      Dump it for what? No other mobile OS open to them has nearly as much in terms of availability, and apps require the Network Effect to really take off. Google had the resources to play the long game, and that's pretty much what you need, especially with incumbents already in the market.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Devil

      Re: Could be interesting....

      if all the Asian manufactures get together and dump it...

      For what, pray tell? Firefox? Ubuntu? Sailfish? Tizen? Not going to happen. They can stick with AOSP for Chinese no-names, but that won't fly for the Western volume markets. And if you look at their own crap Android skins, and inability or reluctance to implement the official Googldroid updates, there's not a snowball's chance in hell of a posse of warring mobe makers coding up any alternative.

      They do have another choice of course: Windows.

      1. vgrig_us

        Re: Could be interesting....

        "They do have another choice of course: Windows."

        LOLZ

      2. Tom 64

        Re: Could be interesting....

        > "For what, pray tell? Firefox? Ubuntu? Sailfish? Tizen? Not going to happen. They can stick with AOSP for Chinese no-names, but that won't fly for the Western volume markets."

        Since 60% of the worlds population lives in asia, I don't suppose they'll care too much.

    3. DougS Silver badge

      They already have

      Most Chinese phones are sold without the Googly bits, in favor of Chinese stuff like Baidu. They will continue using the AOSP code like they always have been.

      If Google quits updating AOSP, which they probably would, no doubt an open source project would quickly spring up to maintain it. Heck, Microsoft might pick up the ball and write in support for Bing and sell their own Android that is freer than the one Google offers. Wouldn't that be a crazy turnaround?

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: They already have

        > Microsoft might pick up the ball and write in support for Bing and sell their own Android

        They already did, or actually Nokia did it for them.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_X_family

      2. Tomato42 Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: They already have

        > Heck, Microsoft might pick up the ball and write in support for Bing and sell their own

        > Android that is freer than the one Google offers. Wouldn't that be a crazy turnaround?

        with current Microsoft and current Google, that's not exactly inconceivable...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If Google quits updating AOSP [...] an open source project would spring up to maintain it.

        Are you sure? Why some Chinese manufactures may have the resources, they may not be much interested, especially for models for other markets. It would be a fairly complex project to maintain a commercial-grade software for devices like phones which a lot of people truly depends on, even in critical situations. And you'd also need to have access to a lot of specific hardware, possibly before it starts to appear on devices. That can't be some amateurish project, it would need to be a well funded project able to obtain the hardware it needs.

      4. bazza Silver badge

        Re: They already have

        They may continue to use AOSP, but it would take a phenomenal investment by someone to keep it anything like up to date. If Google remove themselves from the community there'd be an almighty development vacuum to be filled.

        And I can't see the like of Samsung, etc stumping up the man hours. They don't have swathes of highly talented OS developers sitting around just in case. It's a vacuum that might not get filled.

        Curve Ball

        If a bunch of manufactures suddenly find themselves needing an OS, they could do worse than BB10. There's some good aspects:

        1) it'll play with cars nicely. QNX is beginning to rule that market, and there'd be a lot in common between a BB10 phone and a QNX car

        2) technically, under the hood, BB10 is very good

        3) BlackBerry are almost certainly willing to license on favourable terms, and indeed are very purchasable.

        4) whilst it isn't quite so flush with services as Google, there's a lot already there

        5) it's Android runtime provides an app bridge

        6) it doesn't data slurp

        If all the likes of Samsung, HTC, Sony, Huawei, etc all decided to standardise on BB10, that'd save BlackBerry and there'd be an instant market for apps. That would make it viable for developers to write for it.

        Though what I suspect will happen is that Samsung will try to do their own thing, fail, whilst everyone else whither and dies rather quicker.

        Like him or loathe him, Jobs was right about one thing; software matters. The android crowd may find themselves with any software pretty quickly unless they take matters into their own hands.

        1. Get the puck outa here

          Re: They already have

          Meanwhile Blackberry has abandoned BB10 in favour of Android. Chen just keeps sawing more holes in the leaking boat to let the water out...

  7. Don Dumb
    Holmes

    If it's true

    "Technology analyst Richard Windsor says that a highly confidential internal project is underway"

    Clearly not *that* highly confidential then - Unless of course it's bollocks.

    1. wayne 8

      Re: If it's true or false

      Windsor could be "controlled opposition", a Google asset to release the worst possible predictions to the public. Google can say "No, no, we are not going to do anything that. What we are going to do is...[something not as bad, but still in our interests and not yours]."

  8. Pseu Donyme

    In effect Android is proprietary already ...

    ... because GMS is. Most importantly Google's stranglehold is cemented by GooglePlay, which at this points enjoys an unsurmountable advantage due to network effect*. (Not that coming up with the other components (browser, maps, ...) would be trivial, never mind something phone manufacturers on razor thin margins were likely to pull off or even try.)

    * i.e. the value of a product or service to an user increases as the number of users increase, which in this case happens because of the feedback loop of: more GooglePlay users -> more developers using GooglePlay (exclusively) -> more GooglePlay users -> ...

    1. DougS Silver badge

      You're overstating the value of the network effect

      There are two levels of network effect.

      It is a big hill to climb to port your app to a totally different environment. App writers will support iOS and Android, because both are profitable for them. They would be very reluctant to support a new mobile OS, because it would be starting out with zero customers and would entail a lot of work developing to a totally new API.

      By contrast, if you already have an Android app at the Google Play store, if there was a 'alternate' flavor of Android using the AOSP that was either supported by an open source project or run by a big company like Microsoft, it would be a tiny hill to climb for those devs to port their "Google Android" app to "Microsoft Android" or "GNU Android". Same API, they'd just have to test that it works with the alternate location services etc. and upload to a different app store. Nothing Google can do about that, any more than they could prevent an Android dev from porting his app to iOS.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: You're overstating the value of the network effect

        > if there was a 'alternate' flavor of Android using the AOSP ... run by a big company like Microsoft, it would be a tiny hill to climb for those devs to port their "Google Android" app to "Microsoft Android"

        Why do you say 'if' ?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_X

        """ Nokia-X. ... It is currently [mid 2014] sold and maintained by Microsoft Mobile."""

        """ Operating system Nokia X platform (Modified Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2[3])"""

  9. hellwig Silver badge

    If it works for Apple...

    I think the bigger issue here is how the EU keeps nipping at Google's heels about every other option in Android.

    "You can't bundle your Search". "You can't supply your own services as a result of when people do use your search". "You can't bundle your maps". etc. etc.

    If Google closes it down, then the whole thing, OS, Apps, Services are ALL part of the Google Android Experience. No more arguing that Google is locking in their search or maps, because those search and maps are an inextricable part of the new closed-source Android. Just as Safari and other Apple services are an inextricable part of iOS.

    Sure, using the Oracle lawsuit might be an easy excuse, but if the EU likes how Apple does things, might as well jump on the bandwagon.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: If it works for Apple...

      This. Since Google is, per The Register, an evil monopolist on the basis of leveraging their supposed monopoly in the licensable mobile OS space, the obvious choice is to cease licensing the OS, then they won't be a monopolist in that space. Really, what choice do they have?

    2. Pseu Donyme

      Re: If it works for Apple...

      While I wouldn't (at all) mind the wall around Apple's walled garden to suffer a fate akin to the structure that once circled West Berlin there is a crucial difference between Google and Apple: Google has a dominant market position in the EU (with Android, search, ...) while Apple doesn't (of course, Apple has monopolies within its own ecosystem, but then that isn't the dominant one within the general market(s), so, while I wish this could be acted upon it might not be possible under EU law ?).

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: If it works for Apple...

        Pseu Donyme has it right. Apple has ~15% of the worldwide smartphone market. Google has almost all of the remaining 85%. That's a dominant market share by almost any definition, and EU law holds them to stricter requirements. I don't know the exact numbers in the EU, Apple may be a bit higher than their worldwide market share since the EU is richer than the worldwide average, but I doubt Apple is above 20% there.

        If anyone is wondering why the FTC in the US hasn't acted, they don't talk about "dominant" they talk about "monopoly" and Google could easily make the argument that it is a competitive marketplace when the world's most valuable and most profitable company is the the second placed competitor in the market. Plus the fact that Android doesn't have anywhere near 85% in the US, they are barely above 50%, with Apple holding 40% and Microsoft and RIM less dead in the US than they are worldwide.

        1. hellwig Silver badge

          Re: If it works for Apple...

          Your "Apple's too small" arguments ignore the fact that Closed-Source Google Android (lets call it aOS) would NOT maintain 85% of the market share.

          They would re-release their aOS as a new product, instantly making them a new player in the game. Even Apple's measily 15% would be dominant over Google's now zero-percent over night market share for aOS (open source android having been cutoff from the Google teat, left to suckle off the open source community, good luck Cyanogen!).

          What happens, then, if using Apple's own model, Google once again dominates the market? Is it really Google's fault, and does the EU keep suing them just because they're more successful than Apple?

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Closed source Android would not be a "new" product

            It would seamlessly install on the same devices, run all the same apps, even have the same name. If anything, the "open source Android" (if someone even bothered to develop that, which isn't in any way a sure thing) would be the new product with 0% of the market.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: If it works for Apple...

          >Just as Safari and other Apple services are an inextricable part of iOS.... ...Sure, using the Oracle lawsuit might be an easy excuse, but if the EU likes how Apple does things, might as well jump on the bandwagon.

          The EU only tries to hobble companies that they consider to be abusing their dominant market position... Apple have a small (but lucrative) slice of the market, so they will be left alone.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: If it works for Apple...

      Yes, and just like IE was an inextricable part of the OS... just like Windows, if Android runs on a "dominant" number of devices, it will fall under EU scrutiny. Apple is still below the radar because its numbers in the whole EU are still smaller than Android.

    4. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: If it works for Apple...

      "I think the bigger issue here is how the EU keeps nipping at Google's heels about every other option in Android.

      "You can't bundle your Search". "You can't supply your own services as a result of when people do use your search". "You can't bundle your maps". etc. etc.

      If Google closes it down, then the whole thing, OS, Apps, Services are ALL part of the Google Android Experience. No more arguing that Google is locking in their search or maps, because those search and maps are an inextricable part of the new closed-source Android. Just as Safari and other Apple services are an inextricable part of iOS.

      Sure, using the Oracle lawsuit might be an easy excuse, but if the EU likes how Apple does things, might as well jump on the bandwagon."

      Google closing it down would have no effect on the EU's arguments. I don't see why you think it would.

  10. tiggity Silver badge

    Hopefully leads to devices getting patched

    Of course, given Google forces makers to pass tests to get GMS, they could also have enforced a customer friendly patch / update strategy as part of their stranglehold on the android system..

    Though Google themselves seem to treat a phone lifetime as suspiciously short, witness lack of support for older Nexus versions.

    Anyone who ever codes on android knows that to do lots of stuff you need to pull in the Google libraries, e.g. although you can use the simple android.location for location info, most developers taht make any serious use of location data use google location services API, because it has more & better functionality

    .A lot of the "useful" stuff has been closed source proprietary Google for a long time as Google Play Services becomes harder to not include when coding.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hopefully leads to devices getting patched

      "Of course, given Google forces makers to pass tests to get GMS, they could also have enforced a customer friendly patch / update strategy as part of their stranglehold on the android system."

      No, because the test is not continuous. It's only for a specific configuration of phone, and once it passes, Google can't un-certify it. Plus the phone makers aren't financially motivated to play Google's game since they're after Planned Obsolescence. They'd sooner throw their old phones to the wolves, and Google lacks the power to prevent this.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Hopefully leads to devices getting patched

        The issue isn't always with the phone manufacturer, but with various chipset manufacturers... they don't don't always get a new Android binary blob over to the phone vendors. Where is their motivation to do so?

        Saying that phone vendors don't do updates because they love built in obsolescence is art school level of analysis. you might be right on occasion, but your reasoning is suspect.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Hopefully leads to devices getting patched

          "Saying that phone vendors don't do updates because they love built in obsolescence is art school level of analysis. you might be right on occasion, but your reasoning is suspect."

          Not art school. Economics 101. There's no business like repeat business. That's why they don't make vacuum cleaners that last for decades anymore like Kirby or Electrolux. That's why medical companies make treatment regimens, not cures. There's no money in a one-and-done.

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Hopefully leads to devices getting patched

            "That's why medical companies make treatment regimens, not cures. "

            Or, you know, science is hard. I agree that stuff isn't built to last nowadays, but that's just as much a sign of people's inability to do a cost-benefit analysis when considering two washing machines, one costing three times the other.

            But accusing the world's medical scientists of a global conspiracy to keep cures off the market because profit is more important to them (the scientists themselves, not the companies) than saving lives, with zero evidence, is a whole new step into tin-foil hattedness.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Hopefully leads to devices getting patched

              "But accusing the world's medical scientists of a global conspiracy to keep cures off the market because profit is more important to them (the scientists themselves, not the companies) than saving lives, with zero evidence, is a whole new step into tin-foil hattedness."

              Who pays the scientists? Who is willing to cross the boss and get kicked to the curb as a result? And if you want evidence, look at the human microcosm that is politics.

    2. Mr.Bill

      Re: Hopefully leads to devices getting patched

      Even apple only seems to support for up to 4 years, but by then everyone is complaining of bugs and poor performance of the latest iOS on the old hardware. I don't think apple patches outside of the current major version, but I could be wrong. Nexus patches for at least 3 years, with major OS update for 2.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Orealy?

    " To go from Android 4 to Android 5, you need more memory, RAM and storage"

    My Sony Xperia has gone from 4.4 to 5.0 to 5.1 to 6.0 since I owned it. It runs exceptionally well, never any slowdown, and works as well as the day I bought it...

    But then I bought a premium Android device, not a bargain basement device. You pays your money and takes your choice. You can buy a cheap phone and replace it every 12-18 momths, give it to a granson or burn it, or pay more and keep it longer. Choice is a great thing. Just don't expect that £80 phone to be upgraded past the OS it has, it will only get security updates.

    1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      Re: Orealy?

      "Just don't expect that £80 phone to be upgraded past the OS it has, it will only get security updates."

      If we actually DO GET the security updates then that, in my opinion, will be a satisfactory outcome and vastly superior to what many get now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Orealy?

        You do get security updates. Google release patches for 4.4, 5.0, 5.1 and 6.0

        Most well known manufacturers pick them up , integrate them and stick them out OTA after in-house testing. I know LG, Sony, Moto HTC all of this pretty well. The problem of course is this is not newsworthy and goes against the carefully created agenda.

    2. Ian 55

      Re: Orealy?

      My HTC Desire got from 2.1 to 2.2 (HTC) then to, erm, certainly 4.4 thanks to people on XDA Developers after HTC never delivered 3.0.

      So it certainly can be done, but manufacturers usually give up after a token one or two updates. They've already got your money.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Orealy?

        > after HTC never delivered 3.0.

        Android 3.x was for tablets only and not for phones. 4.x merged 2 and 3 to be for all devices.

    3. Adam Inistrator

      Re: Orealy?

      Wileyfox Swift and Storm (100/170GBP) both get cyanogenmod nightly updates including security. Having been used one then the other for around 9 months. Works well, moved on to Marshmallow whereas phone as sold is still on Lollipop.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Orealy?

        Nightly?! A lot of carriers demand in-house testing and regulatory approval before pushing out. How do they do it?

  12. Doc Spock
    Unhappy

    Google have pretty much followed Microsoft's old "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish" strategy, but it's not an uncommon approach for companies that want to monetise open-source software. Plex did the same thing with their version of XBMC.

    But the real problem is a total lack of GMS alternatives that app developers can reliably target (outside of China, and Amazon's FireOS at a push). That is what is needed to weaken Google's stranglehold on Android. Amazon, Samsung, etc need to get to get together and build (an open-source) GMS alternative, to keep AOSP viable. Then again, these companies care about profits, not users. And Google probably forbids such actions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "But the real problem is a total lack of GMS alternatives that app developers can reliably target"

      Only one problem. A lot of those GMS services are real utilities: as in you need a lot of infrastructure investment to really do it right. Google actually plunked out of its own pocket to make its own maps; the only open alternative is OSM, and that relies on user input that can be hit or miss. What about app stores, security, and all that middleman stuff that Google can all bring together because it's all under one roof?

      1. DougS Silver badge

        It isn't like Google has the only maps

        There's Bing Maps, Here Maps, Mapquest, OpenStreetMap, hell they could even talk to Apple about using Apple Maps. I'm sure Cook would make them a deal just for the poke-in-Google's-eye value.

        For search they could use Bing or DuckDuckGo. Likewise there are alternatives for anything Google is providing. Now some may object and claim that Google's stuff is superior, but even if that was true (and I'm not prepared to admit that's the case, at least not across the board) most people really wouldn't notice the different if their phone started using Bing search instead of Google Search, or Here Maps instead of Google Maps.

        1. Seajay#

          Re: It isn't like Google has the only maps

          True, I wouldn't really care if my phone switched from Google maps to Here. The trouble is Here don't give their maps away, they sell them.

          This is the pact you make with Google if you're a phone maker. They swallow those fees in exchange for the lock-in. Who's going to pay that subscription for an Open Source Android? The phone maker? Maybe but that means the phone needs to be running the phone maker's equivalent of GMS. That's exactly what Samsung were planning of course but they decided against it. That's a good thing too because a different GMS equivalent for each maker would have made Android even more fragmented and difficult to develop for than it is already. Maybe the user could pay them? Except people who have just bought an expensive phone hate getting nickel and dimed, it ruins the critical "Just Works" feeling, and it doesn't address the fragmentation.

        2. Patrician

          Re: It isn't like Google has the only maps

          "most people really wouldn't notice the different if their phone started using Bing search instead of Google Search, or Here Maps instead of Google Maps"

          You've never tried to use Bing for searches if you believe the above.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: It isn't like Google has the only maps

            Plus there's the matter of context linking, where a map search has a logical connection to a Web search, a contact search, and so on.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Amazon, Samsung, etc need to get to get together and build (an open-source) GMS alternative, to keep AOSP viable.

      No chance. Amazon are a retailer, and that shows in the variability of their products. Samsung et al are manufacturers, and manufacturers do shit software. Nokia did well to keep it together as long as they did, but eventually it all went wrong. Look in other sectors (eg cars) and the onboard software is shocking - crippled, functionally inadequate, and performance and capabilitywise about ten years behind mobile phones, for no reason other than that car makers don't have a clue about software.

      Even if they managed to bribe (say) Sailfish to conjure up an OS, customers would be back to square one, with all the device OEM's happily orphaning products within months of launch.

  13. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Oracle

    may be considering launching a proprietary Android product.

    I have no particular reason to think so, except to make a joke. But maybe they would.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Oracle

      Once you switch it on, it will menace you because you might be under-licensed. Then a lawyer calls.

  14. objbuilder

    This goes against the entire reason Android was created. Highly doubt it's true. Many devs choose Android (over Apple) specifically because it's open-source.

    It doesn't even make sense. The day after something like this is announced, the race is ON with 50 forked projects all competing for mindshare - it's the old UNIX wars relived. Highly likely a new 'universal' app store would crop up as well, losing Google all its app-store revenue.

    They would still need to release code to their partners/carriers. No way this happens.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "This goes against the entire reason Android was created. Highly doubt it's true. Many devs choose Android (over Apple) specifically because it's open-source."

      NO, many devs choose Android because of audience penetration. Once upon a time, many of them stuck with iPhones...for the same reason. Until a few years ago, devs made iPhone apps first, then jumped to Android.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Why devs choose Android

        Some developers have personal principles that demand open source, and they would choose Android based on that. I doubt that's a huge number though.

        Certainly the audience penetration of Android is far greater, but Apple's advantage in revenue from the App Store versus the Play Store actually increased last year, from 70% in 2014 to 75% in 2015! There are several obvious reasons why developers earn more from the App Store than they do from the Play Store despite Android's huge market share advantage, but it comes down to the fact that while the Play Store has twice as many app downloads as the App Store, developers will still make more money developing for iOS. I suspect most of them still write apps for iOS first, since that's still where the money is.

        The remaining growth in the size of the Android market will all be at the extremely low end, so even once feature phones are gone entirely these numbers are unlikely to change much. Unless you think people will start abandoning iOS for Android in greater numbers than those abandoning Android for iOS, developers will continue to make more money from the App Store.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Why devs choose Android

          I suspect most of them still write apps for iOS first, since that's still where the money is.

          Only for paid apps – there are other business models where the size of the Android market matters more. Indeed I've seen several articles including here on The Register that suggest that the Golden Age of the paid for app is over. Sure, there are those still making a lot of money but it is getting harder and harder to break into the market because there already is at least one app for everything.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: Why devs choose Android

            My understanding is that the "app store revenue" figures that App Annie reports include advertising revenue, at least that which comes through Apple or Google. But possibly that's mistaken.

            There's another way to figure this though - based on the figures reported in the Oracle trial Google has generated $31 billion in Android revenue and $22 billion in profit over the years. That includes all the data collection from the platform, searches etc. that aren't shared with developers, but even if every penny was related to the app store, the difference between the revenue and profit numbers (i.e., $9 billion) is the theoretical upper bound for what they could have paid developers. Apple reported earlier this year they have paid $40 billion to developers so far, $20 billion of that in the past two years. Those numbers included ad revenue paid to developers for apps running ads served by Apple (and remember, unlike with Android a minority of devs use Apple for ads, most of them use third parties)

            Unless Android developers are making one hell of a lot of money via advertising but NOT using Google ads, they are way behind what iOS developers are making. Way, way behind. I wouldn't be surprised if Google STILL makes more money from iOS than they do Android, when you include all the Google searches etc. coming from iPhones and iPads, and iOS apps that are using Google's ad networks. According to Goldman Sachs, as of last year 75% of Google's mobile search ad revenue came from iOS, less than 25% coming from Android! That's why Google pays Apple an estimated $1 to $2 billion a year for Google to be the default search provider for Safari.

            1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              Re: Why devs choose Android

              According to Goldman Sachs, as of last year 75% of Google's mobile search ad revenue came from iOS, less than 25% coming from Android!

              While I don't have access to any figures I must say that claim looks a bit suspect. I don't have any skin in the game so I don't really care either way. I was just reporting the gist of several articles I've read.

              1. DougS Silver badge

                Re: Why devs choose Android

                They said 75% of Google's mobile search revenue, not 75% of Google's mobile searches. Advertisers pay much more to serve ads to iPhones than they do Andorid.

    2. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Meh

      "Many devs choose Android (over Apple) specifically because it's open-source."

      Some do. Some select their platforms based on the developer tools. And some select the platform based on maximizing revenue, user base or just goodwill.

      Choosing Android because it is open source is kind of a problematic point since most Android phones (>99.9% ?) have the Google core software installed which is not open at all. Not to mention the drivers which AFAIK are usually just closed binary blobs.

      If openness was a major factor for devs then Firefox and Debian phones would have had a huge app market. That didn't happen.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      It's a very tinfoil hat argument. One of the main reasons that Google uses so much open source stuff is that it means it has to do very little customer support. Going proprietary would change that completely and would open Google to new legal challenges such as monopoly which could lead to Google being forced to choose between Play services and other stuff. It can conveniently sidestep such challenges at the moment by rightly pointing out the choices for manufacturers and users.

    4. Pseu Donyme

      >This goes against the entire reason Android was created. ...

      Probably. Google bought Android Inc. in 2005, though.

    5. Will 11

      That's not my understanding of why Android was created. The world prior to that had manufacturer specific OS's everywhere. The chocolate factory wanted to slurp your data without having to write 100 different apps to do so.

      Ultimately, Android exists to make Google money - above all other aims that's the one that matters

    6. LDS Silver badge

      Android was create from open source code just because Google wanted something quick and didn't want to invest too much in code and development tools. Linux + Java meant that. It was never meant to create an open platform for everybody to enjoy. The good PR obtained was just a welcomed side effect.

    7. Christian Berger Silver badge

      "This goes against the entire reason Android was created."

      Android never was supposed to be real "Free Software". It can't be given that manufacturers have to adapt it to their system. That's essentially the same Freedom Microsoft gives to their Windows CE developers who also get much of their source code.

      For Android to be "Free" it would have to be much smaller and we'd need to have a common hardware architecture... or at least a common and separated hardware abstraction layer below the kernel. Since we don't have that, all Free projects involving Android are essentially doomed to gain huge amounts of momentum. That's why Cyanogenmod, which only mildly modifies Android, already needs more resources than OpenBSD, which maintains a whole operating system.

  15. Mikel

    Not gonna happen

    I guess it's one way to get your name in print though. Used to call this sort a 'flackalyst'. Speaking of which, has anybody seen Rob Enderle lately?

  16. moiety

    in the rest of the world, a Google-free phone isn’t competitive

    I disagree. I bought my Android phone despite Google, not because of it. I don't trust it; won't log into anything vaguely important with it and if you can't get a toy from F-Droid then I can't have it. It's limiting, sure, but if you want a cheap-as-chips pocket computer then Android is the only way to go, really.

    Meanwhile it works fine as a bookreader/camera/music player. I'd really like to be able to manage my online empire with a portable device; but there's no way of doing that without some bastard peering over your shoulder, it seems.

  17. jillesvangurp

    Utter BS.

    Regardless of the outcome of the court case, Google has already implemented the fix, which involves replacing the Apache Harmony implementation of Java with Oracle's own version of Java, which they license under open source. Of course that kind of requires the whole thing to stay open source since Oracle's Java is licensed under the GPL. This was actually an easy fix for Google and actually has a lot of technical benefits since Apache Harmony is a dead project since IBM pulled out years ago and openjdk brings improved language support for java 7,8, and soon 9.

    So, whether or not Google chooses to further lock down the Android platform has nothing whatsoever to do with the Oracle court case. There is certainly no technical or legal need for this. They probably will do it anyway simply because it is consistent with what they have in any case been doing over the last five years and because most OEMs do a pretty poor job of maintaining the code they fork from Google. This has been an issue for years and I'm sure Google is working on solutions for this.

    The whole API copyright thing is interesting but might end up being a double edged sword as well for Oracle since they probably have more than a few in house implementations of things open sourced by others; including more than a few they inherited from Sun. So, the status quo of APIs not being copyrightable might actually be preferable to them as well. I predict that they will settle out of court eventually.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      My memory of the case was that the court said APIs are copyrightable in principle, but it could nevertheless be fair use to use them, and chucked it back to the lower court to decide. The lower court has now said, "Yup, it was fair use" and the senior court will have to decide whether that decision was sound. But just because the appeal court agreed with Oracle the first time, it's a mistake to think they will agree a second.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Google has already implemented the fix, which involves replacing the Apache Harmony implementation of Java with Oracle's own version of Java, which they license under open source.

      The important part is the VM and it has never been the one of Sun or the one of Apache, as it is the Dalvik (licensed under Apache License, so Google may make proprietary modifications to it of course)

      1. Boothy

        Do you mean ART (Android Runtime)?

        Dalvik was superseded by ART back in 2014 when 5.0 came out, and was available in 4.4 (KitKat) before then (as an optional setting).

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          But doesn't ART still rely on the same Java-based API as Dalvik, only it's compiled instead of interpreted?

  18. Planty Bronze badge

    Anyone track

    "analyst" prediction hit rates?? I never heard of this guy and don't know if I should trust him or not...

    I did hear the reason they are called analysts is they talk out of their anus the vast majority of the time, and will say anything that hints at a paycheck....

  19. Joerg

    It will be the end of Google.. they will go bankrupt quickly as they deserve!

    The fake Google ecosystem that is the huge Android fraud with the illegal use of Java by Google won't survive going closed source and having OEMs obliged to do what Google tells them to.

    So far Google managed to make money with the mess they created only thanks to using devices to spy on customers and resell data along with ads.

    If now they piss off their gang of manufacturers their fraud system will just collapse quickly.

    They might have a chance to shut it down completely and creating something else maybe But forcing anything on the Android mess is going to backfired badly. They are doomed to be destroyed by their own mess.

  20. ebinrock

    GPL?

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but since Android is Linux-based, wouldn't Android have to stay open source to not be in violation of the GNU Public License (GPL)?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: GPL?

      They could still replace the kernel and other stuff with a *BSD one...

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: GPL?

        Or maybe fish something out of the pond of dead Nokia?

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: GPL?

      No, they can just do what Tivo does: open-source the kernel itself but keep everything else under lock and key. Look up "Tivoization".

    3. Vic

      Re: GPL?

      Correct me if I'm wrong

      OK - you're wrong. Sorry...

      since Android is Linux-based, wouldn't Android have to stay open source to not be in violation of the GNU Public License (GPL)?

      Android is based on the Linux kernel, so - unless they change the kernel - that bit must remain GPLv2.

      But the rest of the Android system - i.e. all the userspace stuff - is what's known as a "mere aggregation", and is not covered by the kernel licence; each application can have its own licence. AIUI, substantially all the userspace is Apache-licenced, so Google are under no obligation to supply any source to that at all.

      Vic.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We have contacted Google and queried the assertions about closed-source Android

    Did you try googling it or would that break the Internet?

  22. stephanh Silver badge

    Why this will actually NOT happen

    1. If Google would drop AOSP by doing so they would force the low-cost Chinese manufacturers to go with the competition; who knows, even reviving Windows Phone in the process.

    2. Google has already all the control it wants through GMS. AOSP contains only boring stuff everybody could do.

    3. The Linux kernel is in AOSP and cannot actually legally be closed, since it is GPL. Admittedly they could close the BSD-licensed stuff.

    4. AOSP is the "bait" in Google's bait-and-switch strategy aimed at manufacturers (GMS being the "switch").

    5. As pointed out already, the whole Java API mess will be soon irrelevant anyway.

    6. "Closing" AOSP will not magically make manufacturers more willing to provide updates. More likely, it will mean the low-cost manufacturers will stay on the last "open" AOSP indefinitely, like an eternal Android Froyo.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Why this will actually NOT happen

      1. Would Chinese manufacturers be willing to submit to Microsoft's terms any more than the terms they have now? They could just fork the last AOSP version and go from there, but that has its own pitfalls as Amazon can attest.

      2. But it's still full of bugs no manufacturer wants to patch. Even the blanking KERNEL has bugs. The only way Google can force them to be fixed is to go full vertical integration the way Apple does.

      3. The Tivo kernels are GPL Linux, too, but that never stopped them. Google can release the kernel clean as day, but everything ON TOP of it can be proprietary. Also, with dm-verity enforced in Marshmallow and up, they can check for modified kernels, too, all without violating the GPL (see "Tivoization").

      4. The manufacturers are aware of the switch part already, meaning the bait doesn't mean anything to them anymore. Did you read the part of the article where Samsung gave up trying to make their own services?

      6. Closing AOSP is meant to make the manufacturers moot, not force them to update. The idea is that the software becomes wholly under Google's control, meaning they can push the updates as needed instead of waiting on manufacturers who would rather you junk you phone. Increasing legal pressure means Google HAS to take this route or face potential civil and criminal penalties for increasingly-vulnerable installations that, at the last, falls to them.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Go ahead Google, make my day

    As a programmer, I welcome this change. Not for the reason you expect, rather, because it spells the end of bloody stupid mobile apps. We can't take any more fragmentation.

    Web+iOS was annoying but optional in the beginning, as iPhone users were only 1%.

    Web+iOS+Android is almost mandatory now, and becoming unmanageable.

    Web+iOS+Multiple Incompatible Androids? Forget about it. When it happens - not if, when - Web will look mighty attractive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Go ahead Google, make my day

      You're obviously not a very good web developer ;)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Go ahead Google, make my day

        Aye, the kids these days, they run circles around me....when NPM ain't borked.

  24. DanceMan

    My Blackberry Q10 is looking better

    It's not dead yet, says it's really feeling a lot better.

    Not great for videos and browsing,but a great communications device. Thankfully it's also very rugged, because the alternatives are not very encouraging.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: My Blackberry Q10 is looking better

      It's dead, Jim.

      I haven't heard of anyone wanting to have BB in-company in the last 6 months. It may be a mistake but that coffin is rolling downstairs now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My Blackberry Q10 is looking better

        Reasonably large US corp here, with offices world wide and around 60k employees.

        Company stopped providing BB phones as an option around 2 years ago, and then shutdown all BB services in March 2015.

        All existing BB users were given notice to replace their handsets with a company Android phone, or switch to BYOD if they wanted to.

        BB is dead in the corporate world!

  25. Andrew Jones 2

    Nope.

    Why is it that all these "analysts" offer opinions about things that they clearly have no knowledge about.

    Android is an Open Source operating system. The additional tweaks and apps that manufacturers add on top of it are typically closed source. Google further adds to this across both devices under the Nexus brand as well as any Android device that can run the Google Play Store, with the Google Play Services framework which allows Google to add further closed source stuff on top.

    All that Google will do is take AOSP like they are now, and replace most of the AOSP apps with closed source versions (which they pretty much do already).

    Why would switching to closed source make any difference to the speed of updates on Nexus devices? Google are already in charge of the update process on Nexus devices, open sourced or not.

  26. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I'm not understanding these reasons

    Will Google do this? I don't know. I don't understand the reasoning why they would though:

    1) The "API" argument. OK, so Google ends up owing billions to Oracle. a) Would changing anything in 2017 affect those damages anyway? b) Are they going to rewrite an entire new API from scratch then? In one year? Keep in mind, they can't just "close source" the same API -- they still will be shipping an implementation of it, which I assume would be enough to get them in trouble with Oracle anyway -- and if a judge is stupid enough (hey judge, if you decide this you are STUPID!) to decide API itself can be copyrighted (so you can't clean-room implement it...) then, well, you can't write Android software without an API of some kind. So they can't just close source the existing API and have this actually help anything with Oracle.

    2) The "faster updates" argument. a) Many many phones, the vendor simply does not bother to do anything in terms of updates; either they ship none, or maybe a minor version update, like "x.y.0 to x.y.2". I simply do not see how it being closed source versus open source helps this in any way; many vendors simply can't be bothered to release updates at all, and in other cases, they do some nasty things ^H^H^H^H customizations to bring up Android to begin with, and don't want to have to do it again to make it run on a newer Android version (the first couple LTE-supporting phones I had had this problem... Android didn't really support LTE yet, so the data support for switching between EVDO, HSPA, or LTE was like some vendor-custom hack that would then have to be reimplemented from scratch for each new Android version.)

    3) I'm just not seeing the advantage. If they are not having problems (businesswise) of vendors taking base Android and putting their own stuff on top, then what's the difference if it's closed source? It'd be a lot of trouble to reimplement for something that's not causing Google a problem.

    4) Tweaks and optimizations? This argument just made no sense to me -- if you want people to find little tweaks and optimizations and improve your code, to improve battery life, and so on, closed source is not the way to do it.

    5) I'm ignoring the "people want Android because it's open", "don't be evil", etc. arguments, I don't disagree but others have covered this argument more eloquently than I could.

    On the other hand, I can see wanting an ART that is not dependent on AOSP -- you see this with Cyanogenmod, on some phones where they can't get a rebuilt kernel onto it... the Android userland will be pretty specifically tied into a certain kernel version. For instance an old phone I had, you could get a CM7 onto it to upgrade it from 2.1 to 2.2, but that was it, newer Android runtime would not work with that kernel. It would be nice if a newer userland could run on an older kernel, and could help some phones that do not get updates otherwise to at least be able to get a 3rd-party update (i.e. Cyanogenmod) even if the vendor doesn't release one.

  27. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    I don't understand this article

    It's like hearing Qi-Gong explaining his super plan to fight the invasion of a random planet by having Anakin win the race or something.

    So Google creates a proprietary Android with the API also proprietary (given the new "rightsholder-friendly" "can't copy this API" legal landscape) to have more control so that phone makers living in a "brutal marketplace" where 1c difference in BoM is a lot (how many planets do they supply in phones?) are left in the radioactive dead zone of the non-updating consumer gimmicks.

    But so what??

  28. J J Carter Silver badge
    Boffin

    And the bigger picture!

    Google is still thrashing about trying to get Chromebook and Android to a single platform.

    Remember the cries of rage when Google said Chromebooks would move to Android and Lockheimer had to back-pedal?

    Android N might be more tablet friendly, but realistically Google will have to go through the same pain as MSFT has in creating a platform with Windows 10 OneCore that can be deployed across all types of devices.

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      Re: And the bigger picture!

      > Google will have to go through the same pain as MSFT has in creating a platform with Windows 10 OneCore that can be deployed across all types of devices.

      They already did that: it is called 'Linux' and is the kernel that will run on anything from Pi Zero to the largest supercomputer, a much wider range than Windows can manage.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: And the bigger picture!

        Only one problem. Linux on ARM lacks a lot of driver support, especially for those key mobile chips, which are protected by the chip makers under patents and NDAs. That's why the code for them is delivered as binary blobs only. The key element here is that these blobs need to go to Google, not the device manufacturers. This would allow Google to bypass the device makers and push updates anyway.

    2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      Re: And the bigger picture!

      > Google said Chromebooks would move to Android and Lockheimer had to back-pedal?

      That is not what Google said, and there was no 'backpedal'. What they said was that they would merge the two development teams. Both OS are based on the same Linux kernel and use the same browser base. The intent was to bring Android apps to Chromebooks, and this is happening.

  29. J J Carter Silver badge
    Boffin

    Then again...

    No wonder devs are moving to C# with Xamarin, giving them portable apps across all platforms.

  30. rveeblefetzer

    Play store alternatives

    Opera has a mobile app store; so far, if you'd want to go with a custom ROM and de-Google your phone, you'll have to use Opera or Amazon to get popular apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat, etc

  31. Roj Blake Silver badge

    IT Crowd

    "To go from Android 4 to Android 5, you need more memory, RAM and storage, which increases the BoM costs, so no one’s done it."

    Memory ~is~ RAM!

    - Maurice Moss

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: IT Crowd

      "To go from Android 4 to Android 5, you need more memory, RAM and storage, which increases the BoM costs, so no one’s done it."

      Memory ~is~ RAM!

      - Maurice Moss

      Surly that should be more EEP-ROM [i.e. Flash ROM] (OS Space + Storage), and RAM (So your Device doesn't run like a two legged dog with a bad limp).

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bunch of crap.

    - Google already has a closed source "version of Android". It's the version of Android all your phones run which is based on AOSP + vendor blobs/patches + Google apps/services.

    - Vendors using a closed AOSP wouldn't make them anymore willing to release security updates. The issue for google is that they can't create their own updates because devices need patches and blobs from the vendors. Whether the base of Android is open or closed means nothing to vendors. If they don't want to make their shit work with the latest release or backport security patches into their tree and fire out an OTA then it doesn't matter what license they got the source under.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      The point is that with the code completely under Google's control, they can get the code from the chip makers directly (which they MUST provide to get their stuff working on Android in the first place), going around the phone makers who aren't motivated due to market pressures.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >they can get the code from the chip makers directly

        Why would they need the code from the chip makers? They would give the chip makers an API and they would supply blobs that implement it just like they do now.

        >(which they MUST provide to get their stuff working on Android in the first place),

        They don't. At the moment AOSP provide reference implementations and vendors replace them with their own implementations.. this would not change if Android went closed. Google would provide vendors with a development kit that looks exactly like AOSP does. Google wouldn't suddenly be getting the source for a bunch of drivers which they have no hope of maintaining.

        >going around the phone makers who aren't motivated due to market pressures.

        If you think google would take source for proprietary GPUs etc and maintain it for vendors then you are a complete loon.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "Why would they need the code from the chip makers? They would give the chip makers an API and they would supply blobs that implement it just like they do now."

          Except these blobs would go straight to Google, not to the manufacturers. That's the reason to take it proprietary: to take control of the OS away from the manufacturers and put it square in Google's corner the same way iOS is all Apple. Thanks to things like Stagefright, Google's potentially on the hook (since the exploit code is in Android itself, NOT in the driver blobs) unless they can control the update channel, and the only way to control the update channel is to take control away from the manufacturers. There's no other way around it because the manufacturers in this case will be actively interfering (because they want a Captive Market so they can tell customers, "Your phone is obsolete. Time for a new one *ka-ching!*").

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Chip vendors would not give Google the blobs and Google would not waste their own time maintaining firmware for devices they didn't produce. Google might as well produce all the devices themselves which they don't want to do.

            What you're basically talking about is bringing all devices under the Nexus branding which will never ever happen. And AOSP wouldn't need to turn into AOCP if they really wanted to do that as they would just have to stop giving google apps and services to vendors.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              "Chip vendors would not give Google the blobs and Google would not waste their own time maintaining firmware for devices they didn't produce. Google might as well produce all the devices themselves which they don't want to do."

              But they may HAVE to do it. Think about it. The Stagefright exploit is in the Android code, not the driver code or anywhere else, but in the part of the code that belongs squarely to Google. If the lawyers play their cards right, they can assert that Android is not fit for purpose unless Google can find a way to get past the manufacturers and patch it and anything else that comes along. Either Google has to FORCE manufacturers to send updates (which they won't as they have perverse incentive NOT to; they'd sooner drop out), they have to take control themselves, or Google is likely to face severe civil and maybe even criminal liability. Ask the bean counters which will be worse for the bottom line.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                You're talking about 3 or so different things and not understanding any of them.

                Google releases updates for security issues. It's up to vendors to integrate those updates and push them out. What would closing the base OS change? Making the OS closed so that you can't go and fetch it from github isn't going to suddenly make Google responsible for updates to devices they didn't produce and aren't under their nexus brand. If the base OS went closed vendors would still get the source code. The current situation wouldn't change.

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  Yes it would because now all the drivers go to Google, not the manufacturers, meaning Google can now push updates that don't have to go through the manufacturers (who actually have incentive NOT to do so: Planned Obsolescence). If Google don't do it, they could end up on the hook for the next big exploit.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    You seem to be hard of reading and thinking.

                    >Yes it would because now all the drivers go to Google, not the manufacturers,

                    Device drivers will never ever go through Google. Even if they did it would not help because they wouldn't be getting the source code.

                    There are phones that phone vendors couldn't ship newer versions of Android for because silicon vendors weren't prepared to update their drivers.

                    >meaning Google can now push updates that don't have to go through the manufacturers

                    >(who actually have incentive NOT to do so: Planned Obsolescence).

                    So Google has some old driver binaries that no longer work with the current Android APIs and that equals them being able to test and deploy updates for phones they didn't make, have no documentation for etc? Can I get some of what you've been smoking?

                    >If Google don't do it, they could end up on the hook for the next big exploit.

                    How would Google be responsible for exploits in other vendor's drivers?

                    What you seem to be talking about is taking more stuff out of the system partition and making it so that it can be updated via play instead of via OS upgrades. That has nothing to do with whether AOSP is closed or not.

                    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                      "Device drivers will never ever go through Google. Even if they did it would not help because they wouldn't be getting the source code."

                      They wouldn't need the source code. Just the blobs and the interface will do. With that level of control, they can do their darndest to work around recalcitrance.

                      "How would Google be responsible for exploits in other vendor's drivers?"

                      What if the exploit is in Android itself? Stagefright is an exploit in Android itself, for example. And some of the exploits are in the kernel, meaning it CAN'T be taken out of the system partition (because PID 0 essentially IS the system). If something worse than Stagefright comes along and pwns a million phones and is traced to the Android baseline, that stuff belongs solely to Google, meaning they're now liable (because no one else controls the code). That's the dilemma Google faces. They MUST gain control or they're going to face civil and probably even CRIMINAL liability (because something worse than Stagefright is a matter of WHEN, not IF).

  33. Alan Denman
    FAIL

    Crippled like....

    the iPhone and Windows PCs then.

    Little Hitlers, all three, they have ways of squeezing you hard.

  34. LaunchpadBS

    iOS

    Is actually starting to look good again, but at 3x the price for the handset...nope

  35. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Well, they're gonna need something less hackable for the Googlemobile, no?

  36. alain williams Silver badge

    The more closed Android becomes ...

    the more that I will worry that it will have MS Windows 10 style 'remote diagnostics'. Google is subject to the USA Patriot Act.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The more closed Android becomes ...

      Sorry to send microwaves to your tin hat, but ALL US phones are subject to the Patriot Act. Submitting is a condition of being allowed to sell in the US.

  37. yowlingcat

    What's the problem - we all have a choice

    I have come to buy stock Android because I buy Nexus kit. I can't stand the bloatware that comes with Samsung, so I don't buy it.

    I think there is a choice - you can buy stock Android, or Google could release a version of stock that people could update as they wished. The problem is that the great unwashed simply stump up cash to buy the latest and greatest from Samsung or whoever, and never think of the updates. Since everyone buys a new phone every year or two, it is not so great a problem.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's the problem - we all have a choice

      "I have come to buy stock Android because I buy Nexus kit. I can't stand the bloatware that comes with Samsung, so I don't buy it."

      But Nexus device don't have expandable storage, and that's a basic requirement for me. And since I want to use root-sensitive apps, rooting is not an option, either. I need a device with a built-in stock Android ROM AND expandable storage. It's pretty hard to find one with both, and I won't budge until a good one appears with both. AND a removable battery (since firsthand experience shows me the virtue of that).

  38. Charles 9 Silver badge

    And it looks like the future of Android, Andromeda, is going to pretty much go as I noted it: with Google in control of the nuts and bolts so as to cover their kiesters.

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