back to article Google says Android 'club' makes phone makers 'do what we want'

Last summer, in a private email message, the open source and compatibility program manager for Google's Android mobile operating system told a colleague that Google uses Android compatibility as a "club" to make phone makers "do what we want". As reported by The New York Times, the email was turned up as part of the lawsuit …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. ratfox

    You only really value openness when..,

    It favors your business. Amirite? That or you don't plan to make money.

    I do not remember that anybody has ever been happy to see the destruction of his own company, but maybe the writer is willing to give examples?

    1. David Dawson

      On second thoughts

      I think I get what you mean. He's talking crap in that blog post, as google ain't ever going to do what he's saying there.

      1. AdamWill

        they did

        Google *did* do what it says in that blog post. You can do exactly that stuff and get a full Android 2 source tree which compiles. This is a good thing, not a bad thing.

        The murkiness comes in elsewhere. Most of Android is properly open source, under a good license, and you can indeed download the source and do whatever you like with it. The big issue at contention here is that Google retains the power to 'bless' Android devices, notably by access to the Marketplace; anyone can build a device and throw the open Android source code on it, but it won't have access to the Marketplace unless Google approves it, which is a big problem for most mass-market devices. Google uses this process to effectively restrict what you can do with Android; you can do whatever you like with it if you want to go the unofficial route and not have Google support and Marketplace access, but if you want those things, you play by Google's rules.

        This is particularly murky because Google is happy to do cross-promotions and so on where there's no distinction drawn; the Marketplace is part of Android. So as far as lots of your potential user base is concerned, if you device doesn't do the Marketplace, it's not real Android...

        Google also gives access to development Android source trees ahead of time to hardware partners it approves of. This doesn't violate any open source licenses because it's not distributing binaries without source to anyone, but it's another way to exert some control over the ecosystem; if you go the unofficial route, you can only get the source for already-released versions; there's no way you can have your device ready to release with the new Android version that's coming out the same month. You'll be stuck with the old one.

        Really the issue is just that 'open' can mean a lot of different things, even coming from the same person. Android 2.x is legitimately open source, but in many ways it's not what some would consider an open infrastructure.

    2. David Dawson

      Not sure if you meant to miss the quoting

      The bit about the destruction of companies etc is a quote, you can see it in context here -->

  2. Eddy Ito


    Meh, the GOOG is just following in the same steps as their buddies at MSFT. Shift the value from the hardware to the software. I mean it's not like MSFT ever did anything less than honorable to get to the top of the PC market.

    1. Shaun 1


      But did MSFT ever claim to be an "open" platform?

      1. Doug Glass

        Wrong "O" Word

        "Omnipotent" is the word you're searching for...not "open".

      2. Little Poppet
        Thumb Down

        Google 'Open'?

        ... what a farce!

        Shaun 1 is right, M$ have never claimed the current fashionable fad of 'Openess' that Google does inccessantly!

        The sad thing is that the supposedly intelligent, unbiased community on the Reg seemed to have fallen all over the feet of Google!

        How sad to gorge on those toes...

      3. Ru

        Re: "did MSFT ever claim to be an "open" platform?"

        Windows, and at least the non-WP7 mobile operating systems sharing the name are open platforms. Anyone could develop software for them, distribute them as they see fit for whatever legal and financial terms they liked.

        The same is true of Symbian and OSX and Linux and Solaris and all sorts of other colours and flavours of operating system. Open platforms need not be free (by whatever definition) or open source.

  3. Muckminded

    If I hope

    in the middle of cynics, am I a fool?

    OK, shut up, I get it.

    So, I am left to hope for corporate implosions, as some Schadenfreude firework display across a bitter mindscape.

    Wait. I still hope. And not just for shitty outcomes. No!

    I hope Google makes it. I hope the baby seals make it. I hope vapid sycophants get reimbursed for towing the heavy line (given the unhappy climate)!? High five!

    OK, no, really, I don't give a shit about any of this.

    1. Doug Glass

      Oh Frakking No!

      It's simply not allowed to think for yourself. Get back in line like a good little kid and follow the judas. Either that or you'll be doomed to a life of original thought and understanding.

  4. Dusty Wilson

    Android is open. "Google Android" is not. There is a difference.

    The Android OS itself is open (well, whatever version they've released anyway). It's the Google name and the specific proprietary Google apps that aren't open (Gmail, Market, etc). You can use Android without Google's apps and without Google's permission/approval/blessing. It is open. But if you think that Android must come with Google apps, then no it isn't. If you want a market, you can always install Amazon's market (no strings attached) or snag a download of Google's apps through a 3rd party (but don't expect Google to be okay with that if you're distributing their proprietary stuff).

    If you think that Google isn't going to be tough with companies that get to stick Google's name on their package, you're fooling yourself.

    I do think it's _absolute_ _crap_ that they haven't released code for Honeycomb, though. I love my Xoom, but I want the modders to get their hands on the code so I can have something a bit more beautiful.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      but..'s the Android name and branding that Google are prohibiting, not Google's.

    2. longbeast

      Title is required, apparently.

      Android by itself is simply no fun. I own an Android device without the Google Market, and while I can get it to meet my simple needs - that of running a browser, irc client and connectbot - there's nothing else that you can do with it that has any "oooh shiny" entertainment value.

      People only seem interested in developing for the marketplace, not for android by itself. If somebody wants to make money from the platform then fine, I have no problem with that, but I'm disappointed to see how scattered and weak the open source side of the community is.

      I find myself now thinking of Android as being not a proper OS, but as just a component in a limited-function device. It's about as exciting as the firmware in my microwave oven.

      1. Doug Glass

        "People only seem interested in developing for the marketplace..."

        Right! It's what they get pay to do.

    3. Doug Glass


      Google took what was given to them and added enough stuff so that under the law they now control their creation. What a horrible thought. Let us all hope the common man never figures that out.

    4. dirk_diggler


      I own a Nexus S running CyanogenMod built from the latest released open-source Android Gingerbread 2.3.4. How is that not open?

      The platform is open, the relationships with device manufacturers aren't. Although they're quite welcome to build Android on their devices with zero input from Google.

    5. Jonathan 6

      Wrong. Very, very wrong.

      Read again. If Google marks your version of the OS as 'incompatible' (a decision that is made behind closed doors, and is arbritary and solely at the discretion of Google), you do not have the 'Android' OS. You have no right to use the Android brand. You have no right to use Google's brand or apps. All you have is a version of the OS that is incompatible with Android. You can't even market it as an Android phone or mention its links to Android because Google will sue your fucking arse.

      Welcome to Android.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    There goes Cade again...

    Why don't you post ever in your rants Google's answer to Skyhook's claim? I particular, the part that every manufacturer could keep using Skyhook, but if they want to be considered "compatible" (and distribute the market, etc.) they also have to include the basic android services, including google location services?

    And why not mention that it makes perfect sense to impose basic platform functionalities, in the name of compatibility? Or would that be in the way of another anti-google tirade?

  6. Stephen Gray

    Google has no soul

    Google care only for the shareholders, it's the American way. That is all.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Okay, fill us in, which corporations have a soul?

      Perhaps you've not really understood how capitalism works?

    2. Doug Glass

      Raison d'être

      Grow the business.

      Increase stockholder equity.

      Enhance the bottom line.

      This is what corporation exist for ... absolutely nothing else. Only the above items appear in their mission statements as the ultimate goals to be satisfied.

  7. Doug Glass

    "do what we want"

    BFD They are a corporation and they are in business to make money and they will continue so long as sheep follow the "judas" straight into oblivion. Makes for a good read with the morning coffee though.

  8. Sam Liddicott

    oh google

    Oh google - even your shill's have to draw the line somewhere, or they will burst out laughing in the middle of a propaganda piece.

  9. fLaMePrOoF

    There they go...

    Being evil... AGIAIN!

  10. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Oh dear, I thought they meant

    Club as in membership...

    But clearly it means club as in bludgeon...

  11. 100113.1537

    Google and Skyhook doing what corporations do..

    So, Google do what corporations do - use a dominant position to pressure customers into dropping a competitor. And Skyhook respond with a lawsuit - all good corporate behaviour. Lawyers make a lot of money, regardless of the outcome, and the question of whether the users get a better deal is completely lost.

    Is Skyhook's software better than Google's? Doesn't really matter. What does (in legal terms) is whether users have been denied a choice. MS got stung for this (rather as a bee stings an elephant) over IE, but the only outcome seems to have been the EU "Browser choice" screen. I doubt anything more will come out of this - except that the lawyers will earn some more money.

    Finding out that Google is not a collection of wonderful altruistic coders who love puppies seems to be a shock to people. Get a grip - no company survives past it's first two years unless it is run by lawyers and accountants, no matter what it is offering. Once it is run as a business, it will do the same as everyone else and sail as close to the (legal) line as possible - generally going over it if the lawyers reckon they can get away with it or feel they have become so big they can't be allowed to lose (RIM anyone?)

  12. Bram

    What do you expect

    Openess stops when you have to pay the bills.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021