Android's Handset Partners Take Direct Orders from Google's Andy Rubin

Illustration for article titled Android's Handset Partners Take Direct Orders from Google's Andy Rubin

Android boss Andy Rubin apparently tells handset partners what they can and can't put into their phones. This is the latest bit of news to surface in Android's struggle to decide whether it wants to be open source or economically viable.


This Is My Next plowed through all 750 pages of unsealed court documents, which include emails where Andy Rubin directly tells leaders from Motorola and Samsung that they can't release phones for reasons involving their GPS technology (which interfered with Google's ability to collect data). Presumably, these handset makers had much to lose, including early access to new versions of Android.

The full article has the full rundown of every instance in which Rubin put the clamps on handset partners, but can essentially be boiled down to this single statement at the end:

At the very least, it's now extremely clear that Google plays a major role in Android device development, to the point where Andy Rubin himself approves and denies requests from OEMs. It's also clear that Google places tremendous value on collecting location data, and it acted swiftly when it determined Skyhook's deal with Motorola might threaten its ability to collect that data.

This revelation directly relates to the lawsuit Google is facing from Skyhook, who claim they had their location technologies squeezed out of Android devices by Google. Wouldn't it be easier for Google to pull the curtain back and just drop the whole open source ethos? [This Is My Next]



Being "open" is being able to do whatever it is that you want with the code. Change it. Fork it. Whatever. Holding a shotgun to your vendor's heads and saying you can do this, but not that, doesn't fit my idea of "open".

And as far as that goes, if being open is such a wonderful and powerful thing, just why aren't Google's proprietary apps also open? Google has proprietary apps you can't get the source for, and has even blocked users from getting ANDROID source (HC).

Google markets Android as being "open" and free. Unfortunately, marketing is ALL that it is. Open when it suits their purpose. Closed when it doesn't.

Or to pull a line from a movie, "It's all just another form of control."