Andrew Oberstar

Android ... Open?

March 31, 2011

BusinessWeek posted an article last night about Android's openness.

Rumor is that Google is trying to restrict manufacturers ability to tweak the platform. Considering there isn't anything from Google at this point it's hard to say whether this is any more than grumbling by execs at the device manufacturers. I understand their desire to differentiate their phones from their competitors by customizing the UI. However, as a an Android consumer myself, I don't want their customized OS when it comes at the cost of being stuck on the same version of Android for the life of my phone.

I'm a little confused as to how some of these restrictions would work. For example, there is supposedly a "non-fragmentation clause" that Google wants everyone to agree to. Admittedly, I am not an open source, nor Android, expert, but considering this is Apache licensed software we are talking about, how can they restrict people's use of it? Are they going to be delaying the source drops?

I've never liked this idea that Android gives a manufacturer early access to the source code. It seems like it should be developed in the open like many of the big open source projects. This seems like an unfortunate direction for Google to go down.