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Google Delays General Release of Honeycomb Source

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the hey-that-doesn't-feel-right dept.

Android 262

iluvcapra writes "BusinessWeek reports that Google will not be releasing the source code for Android Honeycomb 'for the foreseeable future.' Android lead Andy Rubin is quoted, stating that if Google were to release the source for Honeycomb, Google would be unable to prevent it from being installed on mobile phones and 'creating a really bad user experience.'"

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So Android 3.0 ... (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605744)

So Android 3.0 isn't exactly 'open source' for the foreseeable future?

Re:So Android 3.0 ... (1)

ArcRiley (737114) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605814)

Or at least until one of the copyright holders for the GPL source code they're using sends them a cease and desist order.

Much of the Android source is under a permissive or academic license, but they are required to provide the source code to the copyleft parts.

Re:So Android 3.0 ... (2)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605852)

Which is the kernel, and only the kernel. Which is usually published as a tarball on some obscure page.

Re:So Android 3.0 ... (2, Insightful)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606102)

Which is the kernel, and only the kernel. Which is usually published as a tarball on some obscure page.

And Google has made much less than its best effort to merge their Android-specific hacks back into Linux mainline, which makes them not much better than a number of other fly by night OEMs relying on Linux to make their dreams come true. Even when playing with the community properly would help advance their own interests.

Re:So Android 3.0 ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35606614)

So when Google tries and fails, they're criticized for not merging, but when Kolivas tries and fails, he's praised.

From TFA (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35605832)

Over the past few weeks, Google has notified device makers of its change in plans with Honeycomb. Android executives have also been telling companies that Google will likely wait to make another open-source distribution of Android software until it completes the next version, called Ice Cream.

So unlike what the summary suggests, and more in line with the title, it really is a delay, not an indefinite cutoff.

Re:From TFA (3, Insightful)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606384)

Yeah, the OSS platform will always be one version behind the version they give to their top-tier partners, thus Motorola and Samsung get a head start selling the best devices, and then vendors who Google doesn't license Ice Cream to are stuck selling last year's commodity, in a market that is by then saturated.

Pretty cool, huh? Almost as if Google has created a perpetual motion machine that allows them to release their platform as open software, while simultaneously maintaining the power to decide which handset vendors will thrive.

Re:From TFA (5, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606680)

Yeah, the OSS platform will always be one version behind the version they give to their top-tier partners, thus Motorola and Samsung get a head start selling the best devices, and then vendors who Google doesn't license Ice Cream to are stuck selling last year's commodity, in a market that is by then saturated.

Pretty cool, huh? Almost as if Google has created a perpetual motion machine that allows them to release their platform as open software, while simultaneously maintaining the power to decide which handset vendors will thrive.

There are two projects called Android. One is Android, which is distributed to all OHA partners. And since you have to be an OHA partner anyhow to get the "with Google" stuff (e.g,, Market, YouTube, Gmail, etc.), all the OHA members can get access to Honeycomb right now.

The other Android project is AOSP, which is the open-source version fo Android and distributed to the world. If you're not a member of the OHA (requirements include being sponsored by an OHA member, and some annual fee), you can only use AOSP. This is the rise of the cheap handsets and tablets that don't ship with the Google stuff (lots of handsets in China are built using AOSP and officially don't have "with Google", plus a lot of the cheap tablets you can find).

I think this policy came about because the OHA members were complaining they had to compete with the cheap tablets out there.

The other downside of this, that will bite the OHA's members in the ass is that silicon venders like Broadcom, TI, Marvell, Freescale, etc., rely on AOSP to provide Android packages so they can test their chips with Android. If they can't access the latest and greatest, then the chips that OHA members use may not have the Android support they need. Note that I excluded Samsung, and Qualcomm because they are OHA members.

Re:From TFA (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#35606714)

I think this policy came about because the OHA members were complaining they had to compete with the cheap tablets out there.

Exactly: Oh no, they had to COMPETE! The OHA is a cartel, they compete where they want to compete, mainly in securing the most lucrative marketing and subsidy agreements with networks, splitting the rents in the system. In the areas they don't want to compete, they use open source to crush the competition, plain and simple.

Re:From TFA (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#35606936)

Aladdin/Ghostscript used to do that -- sell the current version, release the old version as GPL. I thought we got rid of that kind of shit.

Re:So Android 3.0 ... (2, Informative)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605942)

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

"To make our schedule to ship the tablet, we made some design tradeoffs," says Andy Rubin, vice-president for engineering at Google and head of its Android group. "We didn't want to think about what it would take for the same software to run on phones. It would have required a lot of additional resources and extended our schedule beyond what we thought was reasonable. So we took a shortcut."

"Android is an open-source project," he adds. "We have not changed our strategy."

The "foreseeable future" quote is unfortunate, since it implies that they cannot foresee a time when they will release the code, which simply isn't the case.

Err, Android is not entirely GPL'ed (1)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605968)

Parts of HoneyComb (Linux Kernel) is GPL'ed and is already available. Other bits that are not, they're free to do what they please.

Re:Err, Android is not entirely GPL'ed (1)

YoshiDan (1834392) | more than 3 years ago | (#35606932)

> Other bits that are not, they're free to do what they please.

Uh oh. You don't say stuff like that on Slashdot! Them's fightin' words!

Re:So Android 3.0 ... (1)

F.Ultra (1673484) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606540)

As long as they don't distribute binaries of Android 3.0 to anyone (and these recepients don't request the sources) they are breaking no licenses at all.

Re:So Android 3.0 ... (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35606908)

The first Android 3.0 device shipped back in February 24th [infosyncworld.com] .

saving florian the trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35605762)

Obviously GPL voilation, doom and gloom all around.

Re:saving florian the trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35605940)

Can a creator of code legally delay the fruits of their own creation? Of course :)

Re:saving florian the trouble (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35607078)

A lot of android is not under the GPL or LGPL. But some parts are. I have contributed code to android which has been accepted and included in their main branch. Never have I assigned my copyright to google. They need to make the source for the GPL/LGPL parts available and they haven't.

GPL violation? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35605764)

I'll ask what everyone has got to be thinking;

How is this not a GPL violation?

Re:GPL violation? (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605980)

How about, when stupid people put most of android under a license other than the GPL and they will release the GPL parts?

Re:GPL violation? (5, Informative)

Rastor (8752) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606030)

Because Android isn't GPL licensed, only the kernel is.

For the record, the kernel is available at android.git.kernel.org [kernel.org]

Re:GPL violation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35606034)

Can a creator of code legally delay the fruits of his own creation? Why not?

Fuck you! (-1, Troll)

slashcomma1 (2025458) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605768)

How can they do that if the licence [blog.com] forbids them to do that?

Re:Fuck you! (0)

the_bard17 (626642) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605952)

Goatse, for those of you who's retinas/brain/psyche haven't been burned so badly that it Goatse no longer affects you...

Re:Fuck you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35606250)

These throw-away goatse posting accounts are interesting since they definitely feature posts composed by a real person.

They take advantage of the fact so many /.ers think anyone who isn't an AC must be a legit poster.

iOS their reason? (4, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605782)

I can see two reasons for Google being leery of a source release:

1: The patent drama going on in the cellphone world, with almost everyone suing each other. It is like watching The Departed, except with lawyers.

2: iOS. Google is nervous about the June iPhone release, so is hedging bets to see which way to go after the iPhone 5 comes out.

Re:iOS their reason? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35605972)

How about the real reason, stated right there in TFS. Can you read?

"and creating a really bad user experience"

If this code dump hits then every single community ROM - and possibly some commercial Android phones - will rush to rebase around 3.0, mimicking the previous Android disaster that existed on the 'unsupported' tablets.

Re:iOS their reason? (2)

flowwolf (1824892) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606252)

People know what they're getting into when they flash a custom ROM. 9/10 times it will create a "really bad user experience" whatever that means. It's absurd that Google would hold back honeycomb code because of them. The author is way off base with his guess.

Re:iOS their reason? (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606432)

Don't worry, phone makers and carriers are working feverishly to remedy "ugly" custom ROMs with crap like signed kernels/bootloaders, read-only filesystems, eFuses, and other stuff.

Re:iOS their reason? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35606574)

It wasn't the community ROM makers who created all those shitty Android tablets. Furthermore, this was Google's stated reason and not some author's.

Rubin says that if Google were to open-source the Honeycomb code now, as it has with other versions of Android at similar periods in their development, it couldn't prevent developers from putting the software on phones "and creating a really bad user experience. We have no idea if it will even work on phones."

I mean, he's only a Google VP and the Android project lead. I guess his word doesn't carry much weight.

Re:iOS their reason? (1)

Drakino (10965) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606282)

Thats one of the potential downsides to being "Open". Google either needs to live with it, or stop calling Android open.

Re:iOS their reason? (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606320)

I think it is more about manufacturers than about custom roms. They know that it will be put on phones and marketed as the "Next Best Thing". Then there will be all kinds of comparisons in blogs between these crap Android Honeycomb phones and the Iphone. They should of named it Google Tablet OS Edition. Then they would not have this problem. (GoTOSE for short)

Re:iOS their reason? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35606520)

"2: iOS. Google is nervous about the June iPhone release, so is hedging bets to see which way to go after the iPhone 5 comes out."

Ummm... Have you seen the market share figures recently? Google isn't concerned about US-centric companies like Apple anymore, they've surpassed Nokia in worldwide marketshare. Apple's the one playing catchup, sure they've got tighter hardware integration but the iPad2 is very much "me too" compared to the Xoom and the iPhone 4 is behind the times compared to the Android 4G, multi-core, and now 3D offerings.

Honeycomb was a rush to get it out the door and beat Apple. You put a half-baked OS designed for a small number of tablets into the public's hands and people complain that their old Nexus doesn't run well.

Re:iOS their reason? (1)

alostpacket (1972110) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606650)

I don't understand your second reason, hedge in what way? What could the iPhone release have to do with the Android tablet source? Can you explain that one a bit more?

The definition of open? (2)

mveloso (325617) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605790)

mkdir android
cd android
repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git
repo sync
make

Re:The definition of open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35606054)

FYI, the previous snapshots were pushed too at a later date - this time they're simply waiting until the merge between Honeycomb and Gingerbread. So while it's unfortunate for tablet owners, it won't affect phone users at all.

Re:The definition of open? (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606176)

That's how Andy Rubin [twitter.com] sees it. Of course, Motorola got to peek at the source early for the Xoom, but they did that the old-fashioned way, with a license.

I guess that's hypocrisy -- I wouldn't bitch about Google being hypocritical, it's a company after all and it has no beliefs to contradict. But when a single large corporation basically runs an OSS project you have to consider exactly why they release source. And the Xoom basically shows us the strategy: if you're a big corporation that can manufacturer millions of units and you're willing to play by Google's proprietary licensing terms, you get a sneek peak at the new platform. If you're not important enough for Google to do business with, you'll get the Android source the same time the rest of the world does. It's a two-tier system: Google's OHA partners, and everyone else.

Very disappointed with Google (4, Insightful)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605792)

This is very much in violation of the spirit of Open Source, on which Google relies for its entire existence.

Actually, even holding back the development repository and just doing periodic code drops is a violation of community spirit at the very least, and probably harmful to the pace of ongoing development as well. It is clear that Google still does not "get" open source.

Re:Very disappointed with Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35605910)

On the flipside, look at what happened with pre-Honeycomb Android appearing on tablets and giving people a bad impression of the OS in that formfactor... you can hardly blame Google for holding back for the moment.

Re:Very disappointed with Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35606012)

On the flipside, look at what happened with pre-Honeycomb Android appearing on tablets and giving people a bad impression of the OS in that formfactor... you can hardly blame Google for holding back for the moment.

You mean like Eclair on the Nookcolor? Cuz you certainly don't mean Froyo or Gingerbread, as they run great on the NC.

Re:Very disappointed with Google (1)

Ophbalance (303859) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606286)

For that matter, honeycumb is running on the NookColor as well.

Re:Very disappointed with Google (2)

naasking (94116) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606020)

They can make branding something as Android subject to terms they see fit so it doesn't tarnish their reputation. Trademarks are enough to solve that problem, they don't have to go and close up the source code. That's incredibly short-sighted IMO.

Re:Very disappointed with Google (2)

Drakino (10965) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606264)

Google really needs to decide then how they want to proceed, instead of sending mixed signals. They enjoy beating their competitors over the head with "Open", and decide not to be open. This to me wouldn't be such a big deal had Google not made it such a big deal in the past.

Honeycomb, aka Android 3.0 is shipping, and has been for over a month now. There is no excuse in the proper "Open" spirit for this at all. If Google wants to start closing down Android and taking more control, then they should say as much and do so. I'll take this move as the first step down that path, and hopefully Google stops using "Open" as a description of Android in the future to reflect the change.

This move also shows how Honeycomb was indeed rushed to production just to try and beat the new iPad. Competition is good, up until the point you harm your own product in a clear money grab attempt. The long term damage to the Android image isn't worth that initial rush, but they went for it anyhow. Every review I read about the Xoom mentioned numerous app crashes and hangs.

Re:Very disappointed with Google (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#35606730)

On the flipside, look at what happened with pre-Honeycomb Android appearing on tablets and giving people a bad impression of the OS in that formfactor... you can hardly blame Google for holding back for the moment.

I thought Android was supposed to be flexible? is this not the case? I thought Android was resolution independent, is this also not the case? if it's not and the UI API aren't up to snuff, then what's the change between 2.3 and 3.0 that's so different at the kernel and API level?

Re:Very disappointed with Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35606980)

Maybe you should look at some Honeycomb screenshots - it's like comparing OS X to iOS, or Windows to Gingerbread.

Re:Very disappointed with Google (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35606172)

So don't use their code if you don't like they way they give it to you.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a community spirit or whatever, but anybody doing OSS work because they expect a certain spirit in return is just being a fool.

Proud of Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35606692)

Thus far, I assume they've been releasing builds when they're done. Here is a case where they've made an exception for good reason: the license doesn't require it and catering to the standard repertoire of issues would be prohibitive.

The license requires you to be given a copy of the source which is sold with the phone. Unless you're using a phone sold by Google that has Honeycomb, Google doesn't have to make the source available. Red Hat 'gets' open source, and it looks like Google is too, becoming mature enough to value its time & support. Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC, Acer, etc. are the problems here when they sell Honeycomb-supported devices but don't hold up to their side of the licensing agreements.

Re:Very disappointed with Google (1)

surgen (1145449) | more than 3 years ago | (#35606794)

This is very much in violation of the spirit of Open Source.

This is lawyer speak for "they're not doing what I want, and have no obligation to". The "spirit of open source" argument is bullshit anyways, open source is more than GPL. I release under BSD, and it is against the spirit of that license when some prick repackages it under GPL but I gave up the right to complain when I slapped the BSD sticker on it.

Basically, quit bitching.

Horse shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35606878)

This is very much in violation of the spirit of Open Source, on which Google relies for its entire existence.

What a load of horse shit. Google's search algorithms are hardly open source. There's a lot of things at Google that aren't open.

Like almost every other company, they use open source where it's convenient. Anything else is kept under lock and key.

They may be more or less open than other companies, but pretending they're some kind of champion for the open source movement is complete crap. If their business model weren't built around search [nytimes.com] , they probably wouldn't be giving Android away for free.

Educate me. (2)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605800)

Educate me, please. I'm not in the loop on this.

How much of Android is GPL-licensed? Does Google have a choice? I'm pretty sure they have no choice on the kernel itself and anything GNU-derived. What portions of Android are not subject to GPL disclosures?

Re:Educate me. (0, Troll)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605840)

As far as I know, just the Linux kernel is covered by copyleft, because Google really really wants to be able to pull these kinds of shenanigans with impunity, and has gone to considerable lengths to do so. However, playing nice with the community is not just about obeying the letter of the law, but understanding the spirit as well. Just another in a series of significant karma losses for Google.

Re:Educate me. (2)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606048)

I believe most of the Android stack itself has been released GPL previously. But as the copyright holder, they can release future versions under another license. The existing GPL tools they built upon, like the kernel, have to remain GPL.

The real issue is that they're making a poor decision. Supposedly Honeycomb has APIs for handling display on a phone as well as a tablet. Google bragged about this new column API. There may be specific aspects of the UI that need to be redesigned for a phone, but they don't need to keep it closed source.

Release the source and allow carriers to start working on customizations, but tell them they can't ship with the Google Apps (no mail, no calendar, no Android Market). That will prevent any meaningful phone release until it is ready, while still keeping the code in the open.

Re:Educate me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35606174)

Release the source and allow carriers to start working on customizations, but tell them they can't ship with the Google Apps (no mail, no calendar, no Android Market). That will prevent any meaningful phone release until it is ready, while still keeping the code in the open.

That's exactly what Google did with sub-3.0 yet it nevertheless ruined the name of Android tablets because "the operating system was made by Google."

There's no good answer here. Either they delay release and fuck tablet buyers, or they release it and harm public image. Freedom demands release; profit demands delay.

Re:Educate me. (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607002)

It's actually licensed under the Apache license, the Linux kernel excepted.

To be honest, while it's disappointing, I'm hopeful it's a temporary thing based on what's been said thus far. Android gets much of its strength from being open source, and I'd assume Google wants that strength for its tablets too.

Re:Educate me. (2)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606090)

See here:
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2046324&cid=35567912 [slashdot.org]

28 components use GPL, 5 use LGPL, etc.

But, Android is more than just those components. The glue that holds them together is not licensed under a GPL-style license. That glue is called "Android".

Re:Educate me. (2)

wcoenen (1274706) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606316)

Android is licensed under the Apache Software License 2.0. [android.com] . Only the kernel (i.e. linux) is GPL.

Not that it matters, because the copyright holder can do whatever he wants with the code, even after he has given it to others under an open source license (like the Apache license or GPL). Accepting contributions dilutes the copyright ownership, but to deal with that contributions to Android are only accepted after a Contributor License Agreement [android.com] is signed.

Wait (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605824)

Wouldn't it also be installed on the tens of existing 2.2 tablets that already have a really bad user experience? (especially the non-cap-touch ones eww)

I don't understand their justification (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605876)

They say: if Google were to release the source for Honeycomb, Google would be unable to prevent it from being installed on mobile phones and "and creating a really bad user experience."

Who are they trying to protect from this bad user experience? Do they think a phone manufacturer is going to ship a honeycomb based phone that gives a really bad user experience? Would any manufacturer really do that when it's easier to use a version of Android that's already designed to run on phones??

Or are they worried that some hobbyist is going to port Honeycomb to his phone and end up with a bad user experience? If that's the case, why does Google care if someone wants to screw up his own phone? If I want to put diesel in my car because I think it would be really cool to run a gasoline powered car on diesel, the car manufacturer won't stop me even though they are certain that it will give me a very poor user experience. Sure they may void my warranty and they don't make it easy since the gas tank filler tube won't let a diesel nozzle fit in my tank, but they don't ban diesel to prevent me from having a bad user experience.

Re:I don't understand their justification (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605976)

Or are they worried that some hobbyist is going to port Honeycomb to his phone and end up with a bad user experience?

I bet they're worried that someone will port it to the Nook Color and people will go for that instead of overpriced $500+ tablets.

Re:I don't understand their justification (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606080)

Google isn't really making money off the price of the hardware.

And tons of people already took versions of Android that weren't ready for tablets and shipped a bunch of crappy tablets. I think Google is worried about the overall experience and perception of Android. But what Google did with the crappy tablets was disallow the use of Google Apps, including the Android Marketplace.

For a cheap tablet, they could still ship it, because some people literally just need a browser on their tablet. I don't think Motorolla, HTC, Samsung, etc. would ship a Honeycomb phone without the Android Marketplace.

Re:I don't understand their justification (1)

sjpadbury (169729) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606088)

People already have the dev kit running on the Nook Color.
If anything, source would *improve* the user experience at this point...

Re:I don't understand their justification (3, Interesting)

duranaki (776224) | more than 3 years ago | (#35606854)

I have it on my Nook Color and have been anxiously waiting for google to make good on the source release so it can actually get better. I'm very disappointed by this. You can't control the what people do with open source releases.. that's just how it is. I can't decide which is more annoying, them delaying the gingerbread release to my Nexus One for months so the Nexus S could look extra shiny, or them delaying honeycomb source so the Xoom and other pending tablets look extra shiny. I'm losing faith in google here. I can't decide if they are just too afraid manufacturers will jump ship if they don't get easier sales channels or if they are taking Apples rants against android a little too close to heart.

Re:I don't understand their justification (5, Insightful)

naasking (94116) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606050)

Who are they trying to protect from this bad user experience?

The Android brand.

Re:I don't understand their justification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35606070)

ding ding ding ding ding
we have a winner!

Re:I don't understand their justification (2)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606640)

You're right, but it's worth pointing out that this is the App Store argument. If Google may withhold source from certain hardware vendors in order to "protect" end users or the platform, to protect the platform's reputation of stability and performance, mutatis mutandis Apple is justified to withhold apps and functionality from their platform for the same reasons. If Andy Rubin thinks he's entitled to prevent people from running Honeycomb because of UX, then Jobs is completely free to make such decisions about iOS.

It works and it's completely reasonable, but it's not "free." Free means people being grownups and understanding what minimum specs are, and the distinction between an application, an OS and hardware.

Re:I don't understand their justification (1)

brion (1316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607104)

*ding ding ding*

And of course we can expect the result of this decision to not actually be "small manufacturers don't try to stick broken Honeycomb on their off-brand handsets", but rather "small manufacturers who already don't license the Google-branded bits anyway keep putting Froyo or Gingerbread on their off-brand tablets, keeping them at least as bad as the previous generation of on-brand tablets".

Re:I don't understand their justification (3, Informative)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606068)

Their probably afraid that the hobbyist will let a mainstream media journalist try their cool Google phone and, because the journalist doesn't understand the finer points of google recommending it not be used on phones, they write a scathing review of Google's new phone OS.

If there's one thing I've learned in my tech career, is that customers don't understand or care who exactly in the chain of production was responsible for their problem or lousy experience. It's always you. And if you're the big name part of the equation, its DEFINITELY you.

Saw a great sign on the side of a truck: "Joe's Natural Gardening: Where the Customer is Occasionally Right"

Re:I don't understand their justification (0)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606110)

In fact, my car dealer would love it if I put diesel in the tank. It damages the fuel pump, filter, injectors so badly they need to be replaced. That's a time consuming and costly exercise and they make a fortune from you when you do it.

Better solution perhaps (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606346)

The problem google has is they don't want crap devices running honeycomb and giving it a bad name. So why not release the code, but copyright the name "honeycomb" and "android". Sell those only to platforms meeting google specs. rename the actual code base "cheap dogpoo". So some maker of crap-tablets can't dillute the honeycomb brand appeal.

Re:I don't understand their justification (2)

Trufagus (1803250) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606354)

Here's an alternate theory.

They don't want Amazon using it to build a competing tablet with very little Google on it.

The way that Amazon is approaching their app store is pretty much an assault on Android. Creating a new app store that competes on price, features, service, etc. would be great, but Amazon is approaching competition the same way the carriers do: exclusives. So now, if you want the latest Angry Birds then you must get the Amazon app store, and if you are an Android user outside the U.S. then you can't get it at all. In other words, rather then sinking more money into building their app store they paid off Rovio to deny the new app to Google.

This is a good strategy for Amazon but it is bad for Google and for Android in general.

I've always thought that Android's openness was a great thing for users, partially because there was competition on the platform that would keep Google in check. But this is different. This sort of competition could really hurt Android.

So, it's not "honeycomb on phones" that could harm the Android user experience, it's App Store's competing 'carrier' style. And while I'm sad to hear that Honeycomb is now less open-source then it was before, I don't want Google to let Amazon undermine Android.

Too bad really, cause I was looking forward to an Amazon Honeycomb tablet until I heard about the whole Angry Birds thing.

Re:I don't understand their justification (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607026)

So now, if you want the latest Angry Birds then you must get the Amazon app store, and if you are an Android user outside the U.S. then you can't get it at all.

And people wonder why Android is getting a reputation for pirated apps....

Re:I don't understand their justification (2)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606376)

Do they think a phone manufacturer is going to ship a honeycomb based phone that gives a really bad user experience?

Yes

The rationale (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606430)

I think the rationale is the same as apple's How do you force people to use your blessed API rather than calling kernel routines directly? Windows sucked for ages because people would try to get more performance by calling undocumented handles. Remember all the "terminate and stay resident" apps that would intercept the keyboard hooks as a way to multi-task themselves in a non-multi-tasking environment? Not only did the added hooks conflict but every new release of windows broke half your apps and you got pissed an Bill gates not the app maker. So you want people to use your defined process as apple enforces and google is now backdooring by this move.

Re:I don't understand their justification (1)

fabregas256 (2020388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35607086)

Manufacturers are putting Froyo on tablets even though Google has explicitly said that the OS was not designed for tablets.

There is nothing stopping phone manufactures putting Honeycomb on their phones just so that they can say that they have Android 3.0 while the competitors have Android 2.2. People would buy they phones thinking they are top of the line but the bad user experience would damage the Android brand and reputation.

Delayed until next release? (1)

getNewNickName (980625) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605884)

Isn't Google just delaying the source release until the release after Honeycomb which will combine the tablet version with the handset version? What's the big deal? If people are paranoid about running Honeycomb without seeing the source then they can wait until the next release.

Re:Delayed until next release? (0)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605982)

Isn't Google just delaying the source release until the release after Honeycomb which will combine the tablet version with the handset version? What's the big deal?

The big deal, in case you're correct, is that they would skip an OS version for a supposedly open OS.

Re:Delayed until next release? (2, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606126)

The real answer is the code sucks. They rushed Honeycomb and want to be able to clean it up with the ice cream sandwich release.

Re:Delayed until next release? (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#35606762)

Judging by the number of force closes I get with Xoom with routine use (browser, media player, market), this may actually be true to a certain extent.

Re:Delayed until next release? (2)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606220)

Isn't Google just delaying the source release until the release after Honeycomb which will combine the tablet version with the handset version? What's the big deal?

The big deal, in case you're correct, is that they would skip an OS version for a supposedly open OS.

According to TFA, that is their stated intention..

As for the supposedly open OS, it is open because the author (Google) chooses to license it as open source, not because they are required to do so. Just as I can choose to use whatever license I choose for any software (even an OS) that I create.

Page 2? (3, Informative)

pgn674 (995941) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605890)

Linking to page 1 [businessweek.com] of the article would probably be nice. Better yet, the print version [businessweek.com] .

Re:Page 2? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35606378)

you must be new here

Bad experience == Bullshit. (0)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605892)

I guess they're smarting from some good devices getting 2.3 to work in some form, especially the N900. That, and said devices working a bit early in the 2.3 release.

How about moving to Meego if you want an open platform? Despite the stuff with Nokia/MS, it at least has some promise of being open to the end user.

(as a bit of a disclaimer before you modbomb) (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605956)

I'm just a satisfied user of the N900, who has used Maemo, Meego, and Android (Nitdroid).

It's that Android seems to be a bit overly friendly to carriers these days.

But, but... (5, Informative)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 2 years ago | (#35605966)

http://twitter.com/Arubin/status/27808662429 [twitter.com]

What is the definition of "open" today, Google...?

Re:But, but... (0)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606276)

http://twitter.com/Arubin/status/27808662429 [twitter.com]

What is the definition of "open" today, Google...?

Here, let me show you what the definition means now:

mkdir android
cd android
repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git
No command 'repo' found, did you mean:
Command 'rep' from package 'rep' (universe)
Command 'repl' from package 'nmh' (universe)
Command 'repl' from package 'mailutils-mh' (universe)
repo: command not found

repo sync
No command 'repo' found, did you mean:
Command 'rep' from package 'rep' (universe)
Command 'repl' from package 'nmh' (universe)
Command 'repl' from package 'mailutils-mh' (universe)
repo: command not found

make
make: *** No targets specified and no makefile found. Stop.

Since Google will not be releasing the Android sources (just the GPL Linux Kernel code, I presume), their definition of open is now:
open: command not found

Re:But, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35606372)

install git.....

Re:But, but... (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35606992)

But repo is not part of git.

Re:But, but... (2)

agent_vee (1801664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35606964)

the definition of open: "sign licensing agreement with google; mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make"

Easy fix? (1, Insightful)

hahn (101816) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606002)

How difficult would it be for Google to put in some code to check the hardware. If it's a tablet, let it install. If not, don't. And if someone wants to remove it from the code and install it anyways, let them. It's not like they can complain about the results.

Re:Easy fix? (3, Interesting)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606142)

I'm pretty sure the 'someone wants to remove it from code' would be some cheap chinese company, and the people who would complain would be the consumers...

Its not much of a solution is it...

What about actual tablet devices? (0)

DaysSinceTheDoor (805570) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606192)

What bothers me about this is that there are plenty of tablet devices out there that could benefit from the source code. Yes it would be absolutely stupid for people to install Gingerbread on a cell phone. It was not designed for this and the user interface would be utter crap. But there are devices like the Nook Color from Barnes and Noble that would greatly benefit from this code release. The Nook Color already has the developer preview version of Gingerbread running on it, but it has numerous problems. This is because there is no source code that can be adjusted for the device. I know of many other tablet devices out there that are running older versions of Android that would greatly benefit from the features in Gingerbread, but are not directly compatible with the developer preview image. I believe this has more to do with pressure from manufacturers than anything else. They would rather not see Gingerbread back ported to these devices and would rather have people go out and purchase new ones.

More indications of rushed Honeycomb release (1)

bomanbot (980297) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606236)

Well, I want give them some benefit of doubt for now that they still mean right with Android and that they will continue to keep it open enough (although the mentioned reason smells pretty fishy to me).

But I think this is just more strong evidence that Google was caught off-guard with the success of the iPad and rushed Honeycomb to an early release in order to have something to counter Apple.

In my mind, I think Google still was internally trying to limit Android to smaller smartphone-type devices and was still betting on ChromeOS to put on bigger-screen hardware like tablets. So I think Android was never meant to be put on tablets and Google did not want to expand Android to deal with the larger screen estate in a similar way as Apple did.

However, after seeing Apple having such success with the iPad and the carefully expanded iOS for the bigger-screen device, I think they scrambled and rushed Honeycomb together as fast as they could so they could expand Android in a somewhat similar fashion.

Right now, Honeycomb still seems to be buggy and somewhat unfinished, at least from what I gather from the Xoom reviews around the net. Other manufacturers have been slow to roll-out their Android tablets as well and the SDK was released just a few weeks before the Xoom launch, so tablet development for Android has some serious catching-up to do. Those are all good indications about the rushed state of Honeycomb to me

Now delaying the open-source release of Honeycomb in my mind indicates that the source is still a mess right now because it was so rushed and Google wants to delay it in order to stabilize everything and frankly, to remove a lot of embarrassing dirty hacks they put into their code just to get it to a sorta-shipping state.

In summary, I still think that this also shows once more that the simple "Android=Open" and "iOS=Closed" view is nowhere as black and white as some people might think. But right now, I also think this does not signal a strategic shift away from Android being open, but is more of an admission that Honeycomb was rushed to release and Google needs more time to fix its mess.

Re:More indications of rushed Honeycomb release (1)

brion (1316) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606560)

A rushed update can still be released without destroying the overall brand image. Google's own Chrome browser (under its 'Chromium' alternate brand) as well as Mozilla's Firefox, and the Linux kernel itself, are all developed much more openly, with warts and all exposed during the whole development and clean-up process. Chromium and Firefox even provide regular installable binary snapshots, so you can test in-development versions without compiling, and always have the source for both unreleased and ALL released versions. This gives them several important advantages:

  • Debugging: App developers encountering problems with the system actually have the opportunity to dive in and see what's going on in the core libraries. This can save hours of mystery questions if it turns out you misunderstood a function's requirements for instance, or if there's actually an internal error -- which you know have a chance to report or even fix directly. If we have to wait for source until months/years AFTER the binary releases, we might as well be developing on iOS.
  • Testing: you get more pre-release testing, with both app developers and system integrators able to give feedback and provide patches.
  • Better bug reports: while not every bug reports is going to be magical, the fact is that there ARE power users and devs who can make use of the source to aid in debugging, either to narrow down a problem or to actually provide a patch. (Even if an initial patch isn't the right solution, it can help in identifying the right solution, and as importantly it can serve as a workaround for particular folks.)
  • Unexpected innovation: Sure, not every non-traditional customization is going to be good. But some of them will, and those are things that can't happen until the source is out there.

This can actually help you clean up your messy code base... Google's Android group is giving those advantages up here, and that's a shame.

Here comes the Google bashing (0)

aztektum (170569) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606280)

"Google doesn't 'get' open source!"

"Google is being disrespectful of the community!"

"Google is just a big corporation looking out for its bottom line!"

"Google spends millions developing and marketing a mobile OS and releases it for free!"

Re:Here comes the Google bashing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35606450)

Here come the Google sycophants.

Re:Here comes the Google bashing (2)

Drakino (10965) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606542)

Your comments do pretty much sum it up. There is nothing wrong with a corporation looking out for their best interests. But when they enjoy bashing their competitors over the head with "open" frequently, they better back those insults up with actions on their side. Keeping Honeycomb closed well over a month after the first tier tablets shipped with it isn't "open".

WebOS is also "open", and 2.1.0 was released on March 14th. The source code is also available, not sure when it's posted, but already thats sooner then people have their hands on shipping Honeycomb code.

Re:Here comes the Google bashing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35607032)

"Google spends millions developing and marketing a mobile OS and releases it for free!"

I've got a problem with this one. It isn't free. It implies that like my computer I can just grab an install file and set it up. The carriers and manufacturers put up barriers so that this is impossible. It's free, in the sense that iOS, symbian, wp7, and maemo are free. "As in, we built the cost of the OS into the price of your device."

So, yes...Google gives it for free. With a big fat fucking asterisk.

aftermarket user experience (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 2 years ago | (#35606358)

'creating a really bad user experience.'

So far the android modding community (which is fucking awesome i might add) has done alot to improve that over stock.

Everybody calm down... (4, Interesting)

Daneurysm (732825) | more than 3 years ago | (#35606736)

It's almost comical seeing the conspiracy theories in some of these comments.

While on one hand they are totally stretching their good will with the open source community which they benefit from, the most obvious reason is detailed in the submitters comments. Occam's razor, etc etc etc.

As someone who spends much time hanging out on the XDA developer forums I can promise that the second that source gets released within hours every popular Android handset out there will have a ROM ready for flashing...There are rips from different model/brand/language/era/device type/etc available for deconstruction and flashing for nearly every Android device out there. Being the curious geek that I am I try nearly all of them (before going back to CM every time)...and most of them have just as wonky a user experience as can be expected.

Seeing as how Honeycomb is intended primarily (or even exclusively) for tablets I'd imagine it's UI elements (among other things) are absolutely not going to be the best implementation available for 3-4" screens.

While this is clearly not the best sign of good will towards the open source community, I'm sure the source will be out once something newer is out for the modders and developers to play with...Having the absolutely latest version (no matter how many points are in the version number) is like crack to some of these people. They forget all about Honeycomb with Ice Cream available...

Seems more like a whole lot of people at Google never considered this until it was too late...hopefully this lights a fire under their asses to get Ice Cream out quicker to unify the platform.

Carriers already dictate "user experience". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35606738)

Verizon and Sprint already dictate "user experience". If something doesn't come OTA then 98% of Android users don't do it. For the 2% that might be willing to forgo the carriers locked, signed and "warranty voiding" threats to go dig some 3.0 rom out of the intertubes so they can stick it on an under powered phone - well, they know what their getting into. It is bad enough Google already filters the Android Market by this bs "user experience' clause.

Here is the "user experience" I want : I bought it, ITS MINE. Now get out of my life and let me do what I want.

Too bad it seems most of the country prefers to be spoon fed.

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