Google Android: is It Open or Not?

Google Android: is It Open or Not?Google last week challenged a Chinese firm on the way that the company had modified the Android operating system. When this information became public, some of the first comments posted on the Internet criticized Google for the action that it took. Google later responded that the action was taken to protect the Android operating system from becoming fragmented. So what is Google worrying about, and what, exactly, is this fragmentation of Android that everyone’s talking about?

The basics of what Google is trying to do is to offer developers, companies, and consumers the exact same experience across all of the Android platforms. According to Google, all companies that wish to use the Android operating system have joined what is called the Open Handset Alliance. Acer, according to Google, is also a member of this alliance. Because of this agreement, Google has chosen to block Acer from using an Android operating system from a Chinese company that Google says has violated the terms of the alliance agreement.

Compared to companies such as Apple, Google has a more difficult task since its operating system is functioning on numerous devices. Apple has one single operating system, called iOS, that the company uses for all of its mobile devices. This includes the popular Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod products. Google is finding itself in a position similar to the one faced by Microsoft in that its operating system needs to support the hardware and software of various manufacturers. Google is now attempting to rein in these rogue Android operating systems to make them more compliant with the alliance agreement.

What is surprising to some in the technology industry is what appears to be an extremely strong stance by Google in protecting the company’s prized Android operating system. But there is more to this disagreement than meets the eye. Other Chinese companies are reducing systems that sit on top of the Android operating system, and prohibit the use of any of Google’s other services. But what is surprising is that Amazon, which also uses a system that sits on top of the Android operating system, has done this on its successful Kindle Fire tablets. So why does Amazon get away with this while Acer does not?

The answer to this question is actually very simple. Acer belongs to the alliance that Google has started while Amazon does not — which, when one thinks about it, makes no sense since both Acer and Amazon are doing the exact same thing. One is being punished while the other is not. One would be hard-pressed not to think that Google is playing favorites between an American-owned company and ones that are owned in China. It is no secret that Google has had problems with Chinese companies and the Chinese government in the past. One would hope that this is not the case and that Google is merely exercising its rights under the alliance agreement.

What do you think? Is Google in the right, or is it playing favorites between an American-owned company and a Chinese-owned company?

Comments, as always, are welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Aray Chen

Source: The Next Web

Article Written by

I have been writing for Lockergnome for eight years.

  • wlmeng11

    Not the whole story.

    Google will not prevent Asus from manufacturing Android devices if they break the agreement.
    They just won’t be able to use the proprietary Google services like the Play Store, which are licensed through said agreement.
    Google isn’t “punishing” Amazon because they don’t use those services.

    A better comparison would be to compare them with OEM skins like HTC Sense and Samsung’s Touchwiz. They are modified from vanilla Android, yet they are allowed to have all of Google’s proprietary services.

    So why are they blocking Asus from using Aliyun OS?

    Aliyun OS isn’t a just modification of open-source Android code.
    It uses Google’s proprietary services without permission, and even includes pirated Android apps in it’s software store.

    Alibaba claims that their OS is a Linux fork not based off of Android.
    However, it would still be illegal, as the GPL requires them to release their modified kernel source, which they didn’t.

    So it’s not a mystery why Google is threatening Acer to not use Aliyun OS.

  • wlmeng11

    I’d like to know why my previous comment was removed?
    (If it was because of the link I can repost it without the link)