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Google Fights Back Against Android Fragmentation

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the one-version-to-rule-them-all dept.

Android 373

bonch writes "Google is tightening its control over Android in an attempt to standardize the platform. Licensees must agree to a 'non-fragmentation clause' that gives Google final approval over operating system changes, allegedly sparking complaints to the Justice Department. This follows Google's recent decision to withhold the source to Honeycomb from non-privileged partners, a move that has drawn criticism from openness advocates. Google says that Honeycomb will be open sourced when it's ready for other devices."

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THE DERPS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710680)

THE DERPS HAVE JUST herped all over my leg!~~~~~~~~~~

Fragmented Android (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710702)

The last fragmented android I saw was on Dagobah.

Re:Fragmented Android (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710780)

I think you mean the Cloud City on Bespin, you charlatan!

Re:Fragmented Android (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710910)

Feh, that was a LONG time ago. There was one much more recently in the Kolaran [memory-alpha.org] system.

First (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710730)

Does it really matter? Honestly?

Re:First (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710872)

No, it matters to no one that you failed to get a first post. In fact, I wonder why people even bother trying to do that.

Re:First (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711160)

Pretty sure it's an attention-seeking behavior. It's probably two or three 12-year-olds who are responsible for every FP on the internet.

Good thing it is open (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710748)

Well, mostly open. Except when it isn't.

Re:Good thing it is open (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711312)

About not releasing before it's ready: They are doing closed development. That's actually the mode the FSF has traditionally worked in (note that this was one of the reasons for the egcs fork of gcc), therefore it quite obviously doesn't make the code less open source (or even less free software), although it makes for a less open development model.

However the restrictions to approved modifications might indeed make the code less open source, however it depends on how they are doing it. If they say "OK, you can get the code early, but then you may not make arbitrary modifications" then AFAICT the phone makers don't get open source (because they get it with restrictions which are incompatible with open source). However if the restriction is "if you make any unapproved changes, the next time we will not give you the code early" it certainly doesn't interfere with the code being open source (because they can change anything they want for the code they get), despite the net effect being almost the same.

There are many aspects of open, and open source is only one of them.

The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (4, Informative)

paulsnx2 (453081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710762)

Motorola's "enhancements" to Android make the Atrix nearly unusable. My wife moved from the iPhone to the Atrix, and it is only because Android does allow customization that I was able to download enough skins and fixes to make the phone usable.

AT&T wants to push their useless buggy navigation to the Atrix, despite the fact that Google's navigation works just fine.

All in all, the fresh and clean Android I have on my Nexus One is almost completely corrupted by Motorola and AT&T on the Atrix, and this isn't done because it is in the interest of the customer. This a push of crapware onto the customer serving interests at Motorola and AT&T

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (4, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710828)

So? Isn't the point of open source that other people can take it and modify it to try out ideas?

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (5, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710848)

The problem comes when all three carriers force bad ideas on their customers.

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710918)

that's the business model difference between iphone and android. apple makes money on the hardware, accessories and applecare. with android the carriers make money on the accessories, ad revenue sharing, the crap ware and the monthly insurance that some people buy

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711038)

Since when is apple a carrier?

Last time I checked, Carriers make money through call tariffs - barely from accessories or ad revenue etc.
Apple makes their money from selling the hardware. Motorola, Samsung, HTC etc make their money also from selling hardware.

Some carrier see greater value in Android as they can fill it up with their rubbish content and try making even more money - beyond the call charges.

Thankfully, Android is open and you can just rip away all the garbage some carriers push into it.

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711390)

with android the carriers make money on the accessories, ad revenue sharing, the crap ware and the monthly insurance that some people buy

Excuse me, but I thought that the "carriers" made money from carrying calls and data.

This is a very clear example of why we need Net Neutrality laws and why "carriers" should not be allowed to become content providers, advertising companies, insurance companies, or software developers.

Here's a novel concept: The Justice Department needs to do its job and start busting up these "carriers" that now want to become media companies, advertising agencies, insurance companies and software developers. There are laws against such anti-consumer behavior by these enormous corporations. And while we're at it, how about we make them pay their tax bills?

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711062)

When Android was first announced I said that an open source phone OS wasn't worth much without good hardware and a good network to run it on.

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710874)

Yes, but the failing isn't with Google, rather its the fact a failed idea has been used to punish a user by preventing them from then moving to something which actually works.

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (3, Informative)

TheCRAIGGERS (909877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710876)

That would be a good point if I could take my phone and modify it. Motorola also has a pretty firm stance on locking down the system so I can't get at it.

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

AdamThor (995520) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711028)

Mod parent up. To paraphrase the Matrix: What good is the source code, if you are unable to compile and install it?

The solution of choice for users would not be Google holding more control back for itself, but passing control to users rather than carriers. Not that this is necessarily viable in either a technical or economic sense.

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710878)

So? Isn't the point of open source that other people can take it and modify it to try out ideas?

It's also so the code is completely transparent - you know what it's doing. Many eyes make for better code.

What AT&T is trying to do is lock customers into AT&T as their sole source of support and products. More money for them, right?

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710924)

Taking it and modifying it to try out new ideas generally voids your warranty, which most people aren't willing to do to a several hundred dollar piece of equipment.

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710938)

The trouble is that, for most folk, there's no ability to customize their phone. The only group benefiting are the handset manufacturers and network operators.

If they were not making phones with locked or difficult to upgrade firmware it might be different, but in actual fact they're trying to foist their changes upon users and are certainly not making it easy to revert to a vanilla Android install in the sense that you could reinstall your PC with Linux or Windows as soon as you get it home.

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711124)

Google tried making phones and nobody wanted them. So now they're going to slowly stop sharing their OS, hey?

There's a company that's been doing that for a while now... oh yeah, Apple.

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710972)

Personally, I don't mind Motorola crapping all over the OS as much as I mind the tivoization [wikipedia.org] that prevents you from running a stock OS with a stock kernel on their newer devices.

Not quite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711046)

Isn't the point of open source that other mobile carriers can take it and modify it to force subscribers to bend over?

FTFY

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711114)

The point of Android is to sell phones. It's not a social experiment. If you want to see how commercially successful it is to let anyone fork their own version, take a hard look at how far it got Linux. Dozens of distros and not a one of them ever even came close to mainstream success.

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711144)

So what you're saying is that open source is not viable for commercial products?

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711280)

I think he's saying open source does not make a commercial product immediately viable.

Very few people run out and buy something just because it is open.

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711192)

Yeah and the point of an e-Fuse is to prevent you from doing that.

If HTC were to release some open phones that the user could choose to install Android or MeeGo on, they'd at least become the go-to phone manufacturer for geeks, and probably take a big bite out of the mainstream Android market.

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711292)

Google isn't, and hasn't, objected to e-Fuses or other locking mechanisms.

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710916)

Root your phone and load Cyanogenmod or some other OS. That's really the way to go.

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711122)

Unfortunately an option on any of the current Motorola lineup, and that lineup seems to be the go-to choice for regular Joes...

Re:The Case for Google's Control: Atrix (1)

everett (154868) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711186)

I think you're trying to say that this is not an option on Motorola devices to which I reply interesting.

Posted from my Droid running Cyanogen Mod 7.0 RC 4.

The ultimate irony (4, Interesting)

webrunner (108849) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710766)

Google wants to close android in order to keep the manufacturers from closing android further.
Openness advocates are fighting to protect the rights of the manufacturers (that of closing Android)

I'm not sure who to root for here, so I'll just say GO LOCAL SPORTS TEAM

Re:The ultimate irony (1)

AnotherScratchMonkey (592037) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711076)

If Android closes, I lose my incentive to avoid Apple's iOS. Google and the manufacturers need to understand that openness is the only real distinction they have over their competition, and that closing the platform loses their differentiation.

Re:The ultimate irony (1)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711158)

If Android closes, I lose my incentive to avoid Apple's iOS. Google and the manufacturers need to understand that openness is the only real distinction they have over their competition, and that closing the platform loses their differentiation.

You are missing the point. Google's license will restrict the vendors ability to customize the OS, not the end-users. You can still root your phone and modify it as you please.

Re:The ultimate irony (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711180)

Except when they don't bother releasing the code at all.

Re:The ultimate irony (1, Funny)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711238)

Nice straw man...

Re:The ultimate irony (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711334)

Oh, someone said "straw man." That must mean an insightful post... oh right.

Honeycomb, and it's withholding, was mentioned in the SUMMARY.

Re:The ultimate irony (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711344)

How? Android 3.0 is closed-source. Where's the straw man?

Re:The ultimate irony (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711286)

do you honestly believe that 95% of the people buying Android phones give 2 shits about Openess? Most of them probably don't know what that is... Heck I'm the biggest open-source advocate I know and that didn't even factor one iota into my decision to buy an Android phone.

Re:The ultimate irony (1)

AnotherScratchMonkey (592037) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711404)

So why'd you buy an Android phone, then?

Re:The ultimate irony (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711142)

That's an easy one. You want to root for Google. Google wants a kind of openness which is good for everyone, especially including Google. The manufacturers want an openness which is only good for them and bad for everyone else; basically attempting to reshape Android back into the status quo.

With Google's solution, everyone wins to some degree except the manufacturers. With the manufacturers, only the manufacturers win and everyone else loses.

Re:The ultimate irony (3, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711240)

"Google wants a kind of openness which is good for everyone, especially including Google."

Right. Google wants what is good for Google. That is, they want Android on lots of devices so they can sell lots of ads.

Google thought making Android open source would be the best way to accomplish that, and it's worked pretty well so far. Except for this little bobble with fragmentation. Google couldn't care less whether you can upgrade the OS on your phone, or customize it as you wish. Actually, they probably prefer you can't, because hardware upgrades keep the manufacturers happy (more of them will use Android, more ads for Google) and no end user modifications prevent you from blocking their ads.

Notice how Google ISN'T making an issue out of carriers and manufacturers locking down Android phones.

Re:The ultimate irony (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711146)

It's easy - which team wants to keep Android open for you as the end user?

Which team wants to lock everything down so they can continue to charge 20 cents for 140 characters of text?

I'll take the "closed" Google version of Android, thanks :)

Re:The ultimate irony (1)

jewelises (739285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711246)

I imagine that google is just going to restrict the use of the android trademark, not source code. This seems like a sensible solution, and won't restrict the rights of the manufacturers.

Re:The ultimate irony (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711414)

Well, if the goal is only keeping the manufacturers from closing it further, then a "non-closing" clause would be sufficient (e.g. demand that every phone running Android-derived code must give the option to change to an unmodified version of Android without voiding the warranty).

Is it just me? (-1)

Tigger's Pet (130655) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710768)

Or does the 'Not Evil' company sound like they are starting to become just that little but more evil?

Re:Is it just me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710944)

I have mod points, but there is no -1 Stupid, so I will just insult you as an AC and then mod -1 Overrated.

Re:Is it just me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711022)

It's just you. Samsung, Motorolla, Sony and HTC are the culprits for forcing their proprietary "overlays" on their customers, not Google for preventing them (at this moment) from doing the same crap with Honeycomb.

Re:Is it just me? (1)

DeVilla (4563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711026)

They are attempting to get medieval on the manufactures who have been more than just a little evil.

Community distributions and less fragmentation (1)

asnelt (1837090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710784)

I guess the Cyanogenmod community is not a licensee. So as long as it doesn't affect these open distributions we can have diversity (by community distributions) and less fragmentation for typical consumers. That's a good thing.

No Market (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710888)

As far as I can tell, non-licensees can't legally offer the ability to buy apps from Android Market. The CyanogenMod community got cease-and-desisted for distributing the Google applications that people expect to be on an Android phone, such as Android Market. See this article [slashdot.org] .

Re:No Market (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710990)

Ya, but the solution was easy and trivial. Simply re-install the originally provided and licensed applications to those who install Cyanogen. Installs copy the originally applications, install, and then copy back those same applications. Basically, its not even worth mentioning so long as your device was originally licensed to run such applications; which is the vast, vast majority of devices.

Re:No Market (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711110)

so long as your device was originally licensed to run such applications; which is the vast, vast majority of devices

Are there any such OHA Android-powered devices sold in the United States that aren't phones? I don't have 70 USD per month for a typical monthly voice and data plan, and the Archos PDAs and tablets have AOSP Android (no Market), not OHA Android (with market).

Re:No Market (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711308)

Not that I'm directly aware of. I've heard rumblings of cheap Chinese knockoffs but that's its own ecosystem with problems.

I seem to recall hearing some place that post-Honeycomb, that is to say, whatever the 2.x+3.x merge becomes, there will finally be an OHA (with market a gapps) tablet/pda, non-phone series available but its been a while since I've read that and I no longer remember the source. As such, I don't remember if that was unofficial-official talk (much of what is learned about Android before releases), general rumor and speculation, or some guy talking from his ass.

Well they have a point (3)

trollertron3000 (1940942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710792)

As much as I love Open Source I can see their point and I can't counter it. If we continue this fragmentation is it really going to benefit android or will it cause harm? If the goal is usage, which it is, then this is one way to enforce some standards and drive that goal. If the goal was software freedom it would be another story. But we knew this going in, it was never the goal.

Re:Well they have a point (1)

MadeInUSA (2028028) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710914)

Do they have a point? Google's point is no different than Microsoft's, Oracle's, Apple's etc point when they want to protect their technologies to maximize profit. I don't think profit maximization is evil, but let's be clear here: if any other, older company was doing the same, bullets would fly from people screaming that company X, Y and Z are against software freedom. I think Google is doing the right thing for its shareholders, but the goal was NEVER software freedom: google is a profit making being. Adopting free software was part of the profit making strategy, and making the platform more closed now that it enjoys a substantial market share is just the obvious consequence of that.

Re:Well they have a point (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711182)

The surprising thing is that anyone thought Google *wouldn't* do that.

The OS is only of value to Google if they control the platform. They could play the open game for penetration, but at some point they had to start locking it down. Android is only as valuable as its brand, and the tie in to Google's services. If you let things be too open, you lose both.

Re:Well they have a point (1)

SeNtM (965176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711254)

Google's point is no different than Microsoft's, Oracle's, Apple's etc

Well, it is a bit different. Motorola and others is/are locking their devices and eliminating the "openness" of the platform. This forces users to use vendor specific versions of the software which are not open. IMO, it is these vendors trying to maximize profit by exploiting a free technology and thus the users of that product. Google is in the right here by withholding until the vendors agree to stop exploiting the consumers.

Now, I don't know Linus, but I would bet that he would allow the source to be withheld on that basis...so long as it was done in good faith and only a temporary measure.

Lucky for you... (1)

Rob Y. (110975) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711380)

Lucky for you, Google's model for maximizing profit depends on a free and open internet based on freely implemented standards. And they do that so they can keep making a bundle providing the best internet search tool around (with the least obtrusive advertising model). That means Google makes money by making Android exactly what you want it to be. A pretty good deal all around. No wonder nobody's screaming that they're against software freedom - they're not.

Re:Well they have a point (2)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710928)

I am interested how people will respond to your point. Apple locks down their iPhone/iPad/whatever for this reason, and /. freaks out. How will /. respond to Google starting to do the same? I have no pony in this race, as I have a mere dumbphone and no pad/tablet of any type.

Re:Well they have a point (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711148)

I think there's a difference between walled garden and stopping each vendor from tainting the user experience with their shoveled bloatware.

Re:Well they have a point (1)

penguinchris (1020961) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711296)

I don't think anyone who has looked at Android phones can deny that the iPhone's locked down, Apple-specified (rather than carrier) nature has been a huge advantage. Most Android phones are loaded with garbage.

Even at the most benign level of carrier/manufacturer customization - skins and visualization stuff - they fuck it up. Different skins and whatever is fine, and there are some nice community-made options, but it's clear that the carriers and manufacturers make things different just to be different, not to improve anything - because the base Android version is almost always superior.

I love my unlocked, rooted Nexus One. I use a custom ROM, but the base ROM that Google pushes out is perfectly fine and very nice to use. I read about what other Android phones are like, and I'm sometimes shocked - it would not be a phone experience that I would enjoy. It's often radically different from the base Android experience, and not for the better (not that there couldn't be improvements with base Android, as there certainly could be - same with iOS, though).

So I am glad that Google has recognized the problem and is doing something about it. It's not like Android phones are anywhere near great examples of open-source philosophy, since most of it isn't even open, so it's hard to object on those grounds. If they attempted to restrict the ability to customize things, that'd be one thing, but that's not what they're doing. They're dictating to the carriers and manufacturers that they don't want Android phones messed up with their shitty customizations, because to the general public that gives all of Android a bad name, not just the specific phone.

Re:Well they have a point (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711306)

Using a GPL code base there isn't much Google can legally do to prevent how the code is used. On the other hand there is nothing stopping Google putting limitations how the Android trademark is used and what gets to use their market place.

Re:Well they have a point (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711360)

As much as I love Open Source I can see their point and I can't counter it.

That's because the marketplace for telecommunications is broken in this country. Phones and service should not be allowed to be tied together. Fix that fundamental problem and open source will be just fine on your phone. For that matter most other proprietary software would be better too as it would have to compete for the consumer's approval as opposed to the carrier's.

This sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710794)

Not the decision, I actually understand it, but the fact that it's necessary.

This is really the open, anyone can do whatever vs closed, controlled user experience debate. I really wanted to see open work, but it just seems like it's not.

Then again this is a relatively new approach, there are bound to be bumps. Hopefully we end up with the right mixture of open and sanity. I can see android slowly morph into the iphone mentality out of necessarily, and I don't like it.

Easy solution (5, Insightful)

MDillenbeck (1739920) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710796)

Allow the manufacturer to customize the hell out of it, but write into the license agreement that all functionality must work a vanilla install that is made available OTA. That way a user can go into the update menu and select "update to latest Google version of Android supported by your phone's hardware WARNING: ALL MANUFACTURER CUSTOMIZATION WILL BE LOST". When on vanilla, make the latest manufacturer switchover available. If they did this, how many of us would still be on 2.1 or 2.2? That would be the best of both the worlds.

Re:Easy solution (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710900)

The best part about your solution is that it sounds like it might be compatible with the licensing that the software Android is based on comes with. Which I do not believe that Google's solution is.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711048)

The only Android devices I would ever spend actual money on are running plain vanilla Android, with no locks to upgrade any time I want. Your plan may work as a nice compromise.

Re:Easy solution (1)

jarich (733129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711064)

That's brilliant. Let Sprint put their crap Nascar apps and everything else on my EVO, but require them to have a button for an over the air plain vanilla latest Android install. Add tons of warnings, etc, but provide that button. I love it.

That would highly motivate carriers to ~add value~ instead of taking dollars from partners to shove crap on phones.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711068)

Mod parent up. If the problem is manufacturer customizations, then make sure the user has a solid, supported way of getting rid of them. I root every Android device I buy *specifically* to get back to something resembling vanilla Android.

Re:Easy solution (1)

amiskell (1975458) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711256)

Allow the manufacturer to customize the hell out of it, but write into the license agreement that all functionality must work a vanilla install that is made available OTA. That way a user can go into the update menu and select "update to latest Google version of Android supported by your phone's hardware WARNING: ALL MANUFACTURER CUSTOMIZATION WILL BE LOST". When on vanilla, make the latest manufacturer switchover available. If they did this, how many of us would still be on 2.1 or 2.2? That would be the best of both the worlds.

The only problem I see with this is, who supports the vanilla android install? The carriers, the manufacturer, or the google themselves? Carriers most likely will not want to touch it because it increases their support costs to maintain two or more images and in some cases, ie Moto phones, the junk isn't even theirs to control. The manufacturer would be the most likely source, as they have the vanilla image installed then customize from there. I could see HTC providing default Android builds for their phones without the HTC software installed, but I highly doubt you'd see someone like Motorola doing that. And then you get into fights with the carriers because you can load unauthorized builds on the phones which carriers never really like for you to do. Google most likely wouldn't want to mess with it because now they have to provide images for other manufacturers phone and maintain them.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711288)

I like it, but it's never going to happen.

One word. Tethering.

Re:Easy solution (1)

tycoex (1832784) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711300)

This is a great idea.

Re:Easy solution (2)

scragz (654271) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711326)

Allow the manufacturer to customize the hell out of it, but write into the license agreement that all functionality must work a vanilla install that is made available OTA. That way a user can go into the update menu and select "update to latest Google version of Android supported by your phone's hardware WARNING: ALL MANUFACTURER CUSTOMIZATION WILL BE LOST". When on vanilla, make the latest manufacturer switchover available. If they did this, how many of us would still be on 2.1 or 2.2? That would be the best of both the worlds.

It could be YEARS before Vanilla is released. They're only on Gingerbread!

Same sin (1)

Kakao (1626933) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710852)

They don't want the same they did to Java to happen to them

Re:Same sin (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711268)

They don't want the same they did to Java to happen to them

That would be an irony. A better example of fragmentation is Smalltalk where no VM was really compatible with each other.

Re:Same sin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711384)

Did to Java? What exactly did Google 'do' to Java?

The net effect of Android appears to be the very first case of a really widespread client side application of Java (that isn't a development tool.) Poor Java? There are thousands of developers that would never have touched Java but for Android.

In order to make Java viable for battery powered portable platforms Google had to address the performance problems inherent in the Sun JRE and its inefficient stack-based virtual machine model that people have been disparaging since the late 90s. Someone finally listened. How awful.

im curious to know (2)

nimbius (983462) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710870)

could GPLv3 have perhaps prevented in some way this "fragmentation" problem?

Re:im curious to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35710960)

Yes, as GPLv3 would have banned bootloader locks on phones. Too bad Google specifically excised all GPLv3 software, and Linus doesn't give a shit about the GPLv3 (in fact, with the amount of proprietary crap in your average Linux kernel, it might as well be BSD-licensed).

Re:im curious to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711198)

It's not that Linus doesn't care, it's that the kernel is license is GPL2, not "GPL2 or later" and Linus doesn't require copyright assignment for contributions to the kernel, so in order to change the license they'd need to get the consent of all contributors.

Re:im curious to know (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711270)

Why would Google want to prevent locked phones? That would piss off the carriers and manufacturers making Android phones and they might decide to use some other OS instead. Then Google couldn't sell as many ads.

Re:im curious to know (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711276)

This. This is why I support GPLv3. Yes it can cause some problem for businesses, but you know what, if they're doing something that causes a problem with the GPLv3 then too bad. If you stick to the GPLv2 and let businesses tivoize everything to make it practically closed, then what's the point?

Good (2)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#35710920)

The manufacturers were really getting out of line. With every Android device I've purchased so far, the first thing I've had to do was replace them with a custom ROM that was closer to Google's core release. The manufacturer's junk (HTC Sense, Viewsonic TnT, etc.) was really getting in the way.

TFA points out that the non-fragmentation clause was always there, Google is just trying harder to enforce it nowadays.

Thank goodness Android is open (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711006)

I've been looking for an open phone that I can modify the software on, like Android. Oh, wait....

hypocrite much? (0)

waddgodd (34934) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711016)

Google's under fire for fragmenting Java and for relicensing GPL code. Sounds like they're fragmenting two codebases to make the bloody thing, so my response to them is:"karma's a bitch."

Smart move (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711066)

Open source and Linux fans may hate to hear it, but fragmentation doesn't produce better product. It just makes everything a giant, confusing pain in the ass, especially for developers who have to develop for the platform. With Android, you not only have to design for specific versions of the OS, you also have test it out on specific phones because HTC and others have taken it upon themselves to throw their own flavor of the OS on top of everything else. It's confusing to consumers and often embarrassing to Google. And it puts Android at a huge disadvantage over Apple, with their relative consistency and quality control.

enforce licensing its terms while breaking others? (1)

dndk82 (875601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711086)

in order to make others respect Google's licensing terms, Google must first obey the open source license that applies to Android: don't delay releasing their Honeycomb source code

Powered by Android (TM) (2)

mojotoad (78874) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711152)

Why not do something like THX used to do for theater sound systems? Trademark the 'official' powered-by-android phrase, run a certification program, let the vendors customize all they want -- they get to use the OS but not necessarily the 'brand'.

Wrong problem (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711178)

Most fragermentation up to now has been due to hardware. My G1 (and the MT3G) won't run Gingerbread, no matter what. The OS finally outgrrew the old hardware.

Now, my G1 does run Froyo, CM 6 something, but that is a struggle.

And the memory constraints weren't limited to those phones. A few Moto phones also lack memory.

The next big problem is melding the UI some makers have into a new release. Blame openness.

Hopefully this will temper some of the Apple hate (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711200)

Disclaimer: I'm an iPhone user.

I think this is a necessary move by Google, in the face of the carriers' crapware (and it was naive of Google to think that they would do anything otherwise). To be truly competitive with the iPhone, there needs to be a strong association of a consistent, positive experience with terms "Android" and "Google Phone." Random crapware on phones hurts their brand. Carriers need to be hit over the head with legalese, as the only means of accomplishing this. Google recognizes this and is taking steps to ensure they continue to gain market share and don't erode the brand.

So we can see that a fully open model doesn't work well in the mobile phone space. Decision to postpone the release of Honeycomb source, amongst other things, is an admission that "too open" hurts business in this space.

Most reasonable people are happy that Google is making this move. I am happy, because for me, this makes Android a more viable option in the future (and we all, as geeks, love to have options).

Most reasonable people will also understand that Apple's "uniform experience" position is not merely a stubborn act of greed, but is a conscious engineering design decision, rooted in reality of the carriers. Apple doesn't let AT&T preload crapware on the iPhone because they know it will damage the brand. Apple also knows that if given the opportunity to do so, AT&T WILL preload that crapware, without fail.

TL:DR version: Apple haters, how's that "Android is open" pie tasting now.

Re:Hopefully this will temper some of the Apple ha (1)

Uksi (68751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711218)

Oops, accidental A/C post

Allow fragmentation, but without the trademark (5, Interesting)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711214)

Google could reserve the Android trademark for non-fragmented distributions. This would make handset manufactures make the choice between keeping the brand recognition of the Android OS or going it on their own and losing that right and any support that may go with it. The attitude could hurt Google, but it would probably hurt handset manufacturers more as people decide they want the security of a platform with less surprises.

Technically no one can really stop Android from being forked, but at the same time there is nothing stopping Google preventing you from being able to use their trademark.

Do No Evil (0)

dmomo (256005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711236)

Easy. Redefine Evil. That's innovation!

So... there is fragmentation after all. (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711248)

So, after all the statements from Google and comments here on Slashdot insisting there was no fragmentation - now Google wants to prevent what isn't happening from happening.

How 1984 of you Google.

Trademarking as a less draconion solution? (1)

IAmAI (961807) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711358)

Would a more FOSS friendly approach be for Google to use Trademark law, by only allowing mobile phone carries to advertise their phone as using Android if it uses a derivative that meets Google's standards? I presume this would still allow anyone to freely use the source code for Android and manufacturers to freely produce phones with an Android based OS and lock it down however they want. However, for end-users who are concerned over the implications of Android fragmentation can avoid phones that are not advertised as 'Android, as approved by Google'. Is this feasible? Is this fair?

A passing thought (1)

Ensign_Expendable (1045224) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711402)

I'm no expert in open source use conditions, so I won't mind being *ahem* corrected if I display my ignorance here. I totally understand Google wanting to exercise control over the Android OS to avoid some of the nightmares that are happening with carrier customizations, etc. But if they wanted to manage Android that way, shouldn't they have developed (or purchased) their own OS, and not used open source?

Probably would have saved the GTab... (1)

modi123 (750470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711406)

Well I am torn. See I recently picked up a Viewsonic G-Tablet. A nifty little bugger (odd viewing angles, but hey - I don't care that some schmuck next to me on an airplane can watch my Angry Bird Marathon in full crisp color) and all sorts of snappy hardware. The problem is Viewsonic's OS flavor is poop. A giant pile of poop. Their half-assed "market place" is crippled and broken. Lacking 99% of everything. Why?! why smear good hardware with da poo-poo? Thankfully I educated myself a head of time, found a nice group of folk who have rooted the bastard device and developed their own ROMs (think OS). I had to root mine just so I had access to Android Market Place. While dinking with it I did soft-brick it for about an hour until I found out what combination of ROMS were going to work. Fun fun for three hundred bones, right?

Personally I have no problem if these manufactures want to 'theme' their devices or add specific apps to it, but for god sakes most are not in the "OS making business" and there's a reason for that!

monkeys bred out highly valued hymen feature (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711424)

was it causing them trouble too? fortunately, the feature was well installed in our unquestionable breeding long before the monkeys were able to selfishly eliminate it, knowing that much of the chosen ones holycost was based on its' existence, & eugenatical purpose(s), & proposals. how would the monkeys even know? maybe less is ok?

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