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Google Tightens Android Policies, Time to Start Controlling Fragmentation

A report out of BusinessWeek has caused quite the stir in the mobile world today, and has to do with a subject that Android enthusiasts talk quite a bit about, and that’s fragmentation.  According a variety of “sources” from within the industry, Google has really started to enforce “non-fragmentation clauses”, giving the Android team the final say on how much can be tweaked on their stock code.  They may even be playing favorites with certain manufacturers that are willing to quickly abide by the rules they’ve set, which essentially means that a “common denominator”  must be reached, before the green light on customization will be given.  So what does all that really mean?

A couple of things.  The first is about fragmentation, which we all know is a problem with this “open” platform.  It sounds to me like Google is telling manufacturers that they need to be up-to-date or they won’t get preferential treatment any longer.  Companies like Samsung and LG seem to be at the front of this story (are actually named), and we all know their track record with updating handsets.  While we all love an open approach, we also understand that it’s not necessarily proper of these companies to release a new handset every 6 months, while ignoring any they’ve launched prior.  If Google wants to start forcing these companies to update their handsets and potentially put an end to fragmentation, you won’t see me complaining.

The second thing has to do with the “common denominator” which we’re guessing comes back to fragmentation again.  That common denominator is likely just Google saying, “You need to start with the newest Android build because you won’t be ready to update in 6 months with a skin on top of it.”  It could also mean that they don’t want garbage like Bing replacing their suite of apps, but that’s an entirely different argument.

And how should we feel about all of this?  Well, the arguments for Android continuing to be truly “open” are hard to find these days, so you really just need to ask yourself if you care.  It’ll likely always be considered fairly open, or at least more open than the competition, but for this to succeed in the long run, we can’t have Android running amok which BW states.  Forcing device manufacturers to finally stay current on their handsets is something we’ve wanted since the beginning, so are you happy that we might finally have it?

Via:  BusinessWeek

Cheers PJ and Robert!

  • Chaos Triple Six

    I don’t see how this necessarily means the OEMs will more reliably update their devices…I mean the could be quicker about it in this way, but I see it as more of a move by Google to consolidate their control over Android using a clause they put in from the begining and which they can now use. They probably planned on it all along, realizing that the fragmentation would occur if the platform was successful.

    Well, it’s been successful–now the most successful (widespread and used) mobile platform at the moment. So no it’s time for Google to step it up a notch. To be honest, I’ve seen this coming, as I’m sure others have as well. The next phase will see the OSes coming more inline with each other and, once the fragmentary issue is at bay, the OS will be a mature platform for full-fledged applications and video games. I figure a couple years–just in time for the Nvidia Stark Platform to be rolling out.

    These guys are usually a couple years out on planning…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Danny-Yang/100000650290495 Danny Yang

    What Google is trying to do is already what the manufacturers should have done already. You do the work, you get rewarded. Seriously, just update your phones and you’ll make more money. And it only makes sense to start with the latest build of Android. God forbid any manufacturer loading Android 2.1 on any upcoming device, regardless of it being high or low end.

  • ShopDroid

    So Google is agreeing with Steve Job? All tech giants are equally evil, I guess, not just the fruit co or M$FT any more…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000158705891 Gavin Spencer Marty

    I hate blur

  • Anonymous

    Blur is an absolute mess.
    Sense has a lot of features I really like, but I can’t wait to get an AOSP, bone stock Gingerbread ROM on my Thunderbolt.
    Google’s software just looks so flashy. It always takes me back to that special feeling I got when I first had my OG Droid. Really can’t put it into words.

  • Djstar2k2

    im all for this i hope more vanilla androids to come

  • http://twitter.com/d1m1m1 David M

    Just what i’ve been waiting for! Finally Android on Samsung, HTC, etc. devices will look like Android! (I mean just look at the HTC Scribe!)

  • duquet

    It’s truly time to begin to have some sort of solid implementation to make devices as current as possible as fast as possible.

  • http://twitter.com/Chasemanhattan3 Chase Chick

    Translation

    Dear Manufacturers/Carriers

    Android was supposed to be open for everyone. Read: consumers. Not for you greedy Biff Tannen’s to lock down the device, never update it, and then put crappy skin software over the top. If you want to put new software, we’re not saying we aren’t going to let you, but given your track record, from now on all future alterations to the software must be approved by daddy (Google) before sonny (retards like moto, verizon, samsung, att, etc) can put it on.

    Keep it real!

  • Arthur

    Google wants there devices to be open to consumers, hardware manufactures keep locking their devices down and spreading the bloat, they’ve abused the openness of Android. Google’s basically telling them Android isn’t for you it’s for your customers. Ultimately Google has made the platform more open because the people who will actually be using it will have more control over it interface and whatever’s on it.

  • Christopher M Brannan

    Furthermore if they’re going to tighten their belt in the market, we the user, can still install apps from the web or other markets.

  • MK17

    Its seems to me that these operating systems closely follow goverment. One one side you have the oligarchy that is Apple (I say oligarchy because a few are in charge, not just Steve) on the other side you have Anarchy which is Android (No government = open).

    Anarchy is not permanent but is a temporary state. So eventually Android will have to make a change. In an effort to keep things as open as possible they will move into a Republic system (Rule by the law). Manufacturers and carriers are trying to step up and be the law, but Android looks to be laying down their own law instead of being pushed around. This system will protect people from harm (and more importantly protects the minority) but still allow progress to be made (also called what America used to be).

    What we have to hope for is that Android doesn’t become a democracy (Rule by People) as most people are dumb and will slowly give up their freedom until we become Apple.

  • http://profiles.google.com/bsthinker61 brent saunders

    Movement towards standardization should make customization easier. Particularly home screens and launchers. I get the distinct impression that motoblur causes things like ADW and Launcher pro to run slowly on my phone. So anything that will improve my ability to customize my experience with the phone is appreciated.

  • http://profiles.google.com/bsthinker61 brent saunders

    Movement towards standardization should make customization easier. Particularly home screens and launchers. I get the distinct impression that motoblur causes things like ADW and Launcher pro to run slowly on my phone. So anything that will improve my ability to customize my experience with the phone is appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    As long as Google provides the plain source code without any of their apps or support they’re meeting their open source responsibilities. I have no problem with Google taking more control to ensure quality.

  • http://twitter.com/binglut9 Brian

    Hopefully google does this it will help android for the long run

  • http://twitter.com/binglut9 Brian

    Hopefully google does this it will help android for the long run

  • Anonymous

    This is a simple “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” problem. On one side, Google gets criticized for not reigning in manufacturers, having phones like the Motorola i1 which come out way late still running Android 1.5, phones NOW still coming out with 2.1, etc. etc. But then they try to remedy this situation, and are knocked for not remaining open enough.

    It truely is a situation where it seems impossible to come up with the “right” answer.

  • Anonymous

    This is a simple “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” problem. On one side, Google gets criticized for not reigning in manufacturers, having phones like the Motorola i1 which come out way late still running Android 1.5, phones NOW still coming out with 2.1, etc. etc. But then they try to remedy this situation, and are knocked for not remaining open enough.

    It truely is a situation where it seems impossible to come up with the “right” answer.

  • Arthur

    Android will finally have it’s own identity instead of the gazillion alter ego’s it’s forced to go by. This doesn’t hurt openness as you can still release a bloaty tweeked out Android device w/o Google’s consent, but good luck trying to put Google’s name on it, or advertise it as a “Google Android” device. Using Google’s Android as “Google Android” will mean following Google’s rules, open source or not they are well within their rights to do this.

  • Anonymous

    Google needs to be careful though. Forcing manufacturers to set Google as the default search and the like is not so different to IE being included in Windows as the default browser, and the EU cracked down on that. What Google needs to do to guard their backs is that on every new Android phone, when the search button is pressed for the first time, the user is presented with four options: Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Web Browser. Google would be the default but the user would be instantly prompted to choose their search provider or just choose to launch the browser when the search button is pressed. Doing so will keep the antitrust regulators off their backs (or at least less so). This also prevents things like Bing on the Fascinate without an option to change it.