Google responds to Acer controversy, says its for their own good

Alibaba says it wants Aliyun to be 'the Android of China'

Yes, Google did tell Acer that they couldn’t be friends with them and Alibaba. But it’s not because Google is selfish, or afraid of competition – oh no, it’s all for the good of the users, and the glory of the compatibility gods!

A couple of days ago, we got Alibaba’s side of the story. A quick refresher, in case you missed that: Alibaba is the Chinese company behind Aliyun, an Android-based OS designed to function within its own ‘walled garden,’ kind of like Amazon’s Kindle Fire products. Acer was banking on releasing a new line of products running Aliyun for the Chinese market, but those plans went up in smoke when Google apparently told them that it would be forced to ‘terminate its Android-related cooperation’ if Acer released an Aliyun product.

Now, thanks to a statement sent to Marketing Land, we’ve got Google’s side of the story. Here’s the whole statement:

Compatibility is at the heart of the Android ecosystem and ensures a consistent experience for developers, manufacturers and consumers.

Non-compatible versions of Android, like Aliyun, weaken the ecosystem. All members of the Open Handset Alliance have committed to building one Android platform and to not ship non-compatible Android devices.

This does not however, keep OHA members from participating in competing ecosystems.

So, the way Google sees it, it’s not a problem for Acer to release a handset running a ‘competing ecosystem’ (read: Windows Phone), but it is a problem for them to release anything running a ‘non-compatible version of Android.’ Fair or not, that’s Google’s stance, although it doesn’t exactly seem to be fostering a ‘free and open’ stance on things. A cynic might even say that they’re trying to suppress anyone else from taking advantage of their ‘free’ OS.

It looks like the differences between ‘real’ Android and the Android Open Source Project are finally starting to show, and it’s not pretty. As more and more companies take advantage of the freely available ‘guts’ of Android, with some of them even going so far as to completely shut Google out of the resulting products, Google just might end up fighting a competitor of its own creation.

Source: Marketing Land | Images via Digital Trends

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24 Comments

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Google deserves this. If they did not see this coming then they are just, well, lets not give them any more money and end it at that. Now they want to punish Acer. HA!

If Google don't close off Android, people moan about fragmentation, if they do they're just becoming evil. They can't really win. It's possible to lock Android down without creating a competing OS so I can understand Google's reasoning for this.

I don't see how this makes Google look bad. Sure the media can try to spin it that way... The Android source code is still free and open. Google puts extra resources behind companies that *partner* with them.

Why do you think it is perfectly okay for Google, who has its own business interests, to continue to put extra resoucres behind that (now) "partner" and also be 100% ok that Acer gets into business with a competiter to their business.

Oh wait, they are willing to continue to back their partners even in the face of working with competitors. The one stipulation is that they don't break compatibilty. I think that is very reasonable.

Amazon does not get any backing from Google. So Acer should have to make that decision too. Can Acer carry their own torch. Their decision to back down is the answer; Acer is no Amazon. It seems fair to me.

If what Google stated is accurate to the business agreement with partners, I don't think they are being evil. They allow aditional ecosystems, products from their partners have to support the already established ecosystem and not break compatibility. That sounds like it is better for the consumer, and a fair business agreement. Especially after the media dings Google for not pulling in the riens...

a0me said,
Google's Hypocrisy Exposed, Chapter 10. Slow news day?

Of course Google's comment made them only look worse. But this was their response, their moment to defend themselves against the allegations. Slow news day or not, fairness forces Neowin to post Google's response.

a0me said,
Google's Hypocrisy Exposed, Chapter 10. Slow news day?

I know, lets rename the website NeoApple and only post news about how great Apple are as a technology company /s

I am trying to figure out where MIUI comes in all this (besides the lol @ more chinese trying to make new os's for free). Its not 'licensed' or made for just one phone. But yet, there is no 'public' beef about it. You can put miui on almost any phone (per developers for your phone). Obviously no particular company (besides fake chinese handsets) is trying to sell phones with miui on it, but still, its a drastic variation of android, waay more than just some launcher.

My point is, I dont see the point (or fuss). Android is open, so let them be (with no obvious support from us). I think thats what google is saying anyway?

I don't think Google are being entirely unreasonable here. Sure, it's a selfish thing to do, but Google leverage Android as a source of revenue through search and whatnot, and they also work closely with members of the Open Handset alliance to ensure certain levels of Android compatability and stability. If a member of the Alliance is going to harm the ecosystem (and, indirectly, Google's revenue stream) by adopting a potentially incompatible fork of Android, they're not going to be welcome anymore.

Acer are still allowed to use Aliyun if they like, but they also know that if they do, Google can't help them with Android anymore.

But OSS is so OPEN and FREE and BETTER and not DICTATED by one company.

*cough*

When you are the default 'compatibility', by picking the features you define, you are the sole responsibility of the project. This is where OSS projects get gutted and often become more constrained and restricted than Closed Source software that at least has to answer to standards and other vendors.

Microsoft has to answer to more 'corporate' powers and 'standards' bodies than Google does for Android. The same is true of VP8/WebM and other technologies that people assume that because you can see the code in pretty C or C++ it is magically better.

If one company is the sole arbiter of features and the technology, it might as well be closed source, because the ONLY thing open source does is allow people to give away their work to the company.

Google gets to restrict and control features and break compatibility when and when they want, with the only recourse being alternative distributions, and Google is going to make sure that doesn't happen every chance they get.

So, the way Google sees it, it's not a problem for Acer to release a handset running a ‘competing ecosystem' (read: Windows Phone),

What happens if Windows Phone 8 adds BlueStacks and use a non-Google Store? Does anyone think Google will be 'ok' with this, really?

(Technically, with Windows Phone 8 it could run a port of BlueStacks or variation, if Microsoft lets it. And being and ARM to ARM version, would be less about the VM translation layer and more about just runtime conversion.)

Oh where to begin...

thenetavenger said,
But OSS is so OPEN and FREE and BETTER and not DICTATED by one company.

That's still true of Android. Aliyun exists because they have the code, and Aliyun is not dictated by what Google do, nor is the version of Android used by Amazon in their Kindle products. They do however forfeit support rights, which is (IMO) reasonable since Google (or any OSS project lead) aren't responsible for the code of third parties.

Out of curiosity, how much support does Microsoft offer to the developers of Classic Shell?

thenetavenger said,
When you are the default 'compatibility', by picking the features you define, you are the sole responsibility of the project.

Very true, but that does not make them responsible for Aliyun or Kindle OS. It's up to them to ensure compatibility, not Google. If they want Google to handle compatibility, leave it to Google.

thenetavenger said,
This is where OSS projects get gutted and often become more constrained and restricted than Closed Source software that at least has to answer to standards and other vendors.

Open source doesn't have to answer to standards? WTF are you talking about? Sure, piddly little OSS projects might not answer to anyone, but most of the biggest and most supported OSS projects have vendors on the inner circle dictating what they want from the project. Two "top of my head" examples:

Linux: http://www.linuxfoundation.org/about/board-members
LibreOffice: http://www.documentfoundation.org/supporters/

Linux also adheres to the POSIX standard, and LibreOffice to the OASIS and OfficeOpen XML standards, to list just a small subset.

thenetavenger said,
Microsoft has to answer to more 'corporate' powers and 'standards' bodies than Google does for Android.

This could well be true, but Microsoft also offer a wider range of products, and Windows/Office are much more engrained in corporate culture than Google is. To the same end however, I would assume that Google, as a member of the Open Handset Alliance, still has to answer to the manufacturers as much as the manufacturers do to Google. I couldn't tell you 100% though. I really don't know what point you're trying to make here.

thenetavenger said,

The same is true of VP8/WebM and other technologies that people assume that because you can see the code in pretty C or C++ it is magically better.

Now you're just talking out your ass, that's not true at all. People judge software on it's performance, not because you can see it's insides. The people have spoken, and said that H.264 is better than WebM, so... yeah. People's complaint regarding H.264 is that it's patent encumbered, which poses a risk to the open web, which aims to be patent free.

OTOH though, Opus, an Open Source audio codec (which, might I add, Microsoft and Google both contributed to), recently took the title as being the best audio codec in EVERY possible performance/bandwidth comparison, beating out the likes of MP3 and AAC, so what does that say about the quality of open source software? Thats right, jack all. Some open source software is better than closed software, and some is worse.

thenetavenger said,

If one company is the sole arbiter of features and the technology, it might as well be closed source, because the ONLY thing open source does is allow people to give away their work to the company.

Sigh, Alibaba and Amazon have both extended Android with their own extensions, and have contributed nothing back to the project. Argument void.

thenetavenger said,

Google gets to restrict and control features and break compatibility when and when they want, with the only recourse being alternative distributions, and Google is going to make sure that doesn't happen every chance they get.

They may very well try to create alternative distributions, but Google don't try and stop it at all. In this PARTICULAR CASE, Acer had signed onto supporting Google's version of Android, and none other, for the aim of limiting the effect of fragmentation. Google simply made it clear that using Aliyun would be a violation of this promise, and if they proceeded, Google couldn't support them. Alibaba and Amazon have both adopted and altered Android to their purposes, and Google has no beef with either of them, at least not publicly.

thenetavenger said,

What happens if Windows Phone 8 adds BlueStacks and use a non-Google Store? Does anyone think Google will be 'ok' with this, really?

(Technically, with Windows Phone 8 it could run a port of BlueStacks or variation, if Microsoft lets it. And being and ARM to ARM version, would be less about the VM translation layer and more about just runtime conversion.)

Amazon and RIM already have OS's that are Android app-compatible, and neither provide access to the Android marketplace, and Google is publicly OK with this. Argument invalid.

That's not Google that control Android but Open Headset Alliance.

The source is mostly provided by Google but they can release it without Google blessing as long as they keep it fully compatible and have the Gapps.

Amazon can have their fork of android Google will never do anything against it, but broken app can happen and not all dev will fix this for a small number of device like the Kindle.

thenetavenger said,
But OSS is so OPEN and FREE and BETTER and not DICTATED by one company.

That is true for projects that are GPL licensed AND have a 501(c)(3) running them with no allegiance to a singe company. It's the reason why Oracle submitted OpenOffice to Apache because that license will allow them (and IBM) to profit from improvements without necesarilly contributing back the code. Also free software has had dictators directing the movement or endgame of the project almost since the begining, check Canonical's Ubuntu and their beloved leader Shuttleworth.

Sure, permisive (apache, mit etc.) licensing does allow for a more maleable project when integrating free and non-free software, but honestly, the goal, or sometimes, the uninteded result is that the contributors/users get screwed if they don't follow dictated guidelines, exactly like an open-core project.

And also AOSP doesn't have the Google apps integrated, me thinks.

I don't think Google cares that much of Acer's os unless they claim full compatibility that might not be true down the road. OHA doesn't have any real power when it comes to Android, only some of the standards (not the OS) AOSP must adhere to.

Acer cand fork AOSP any which way they can, they just have to stop producing other Android phones, claiming compatibility, use branding and step down form their OHA seat. Amazon is not a member of OHA, does not say it is Android, nor does it use Google branding. Almost like the Shelby cobra and their custom cars vs the Mustang.

Edited by LauRoman, Sep 16 2012, 6:12am :

Something tells me that Google is going to close source Android to get a hold of this. Its already costing most OEMs to pay MS for access to Activesync and any other patents that MS is holding over their heads. If Google is going to want to keep control and not have more Amazons crop up, they will have to make sure they have control over the licensing. They could still give it away for free to sanctioned OEMs, but they will have to change their licensing policy and not just let anyone have it.

It's a double edged sword, OEM's get free software as long as they don't release an incompatible version of it. Though they are still free to launch any other OS, sounds fair to me considering they're paying next to nothing for using Android and raking in big profit.

Tekkerson said,
It's a double edged sword, OEM's get free software as long as they don't release an incompatible version of it. Though they are still free to launch any other OS, sounds fair to me considering they're paying next to nothing for using Android and raking in big profit.
Which OEM is raking big profit with Android? please do tell... cause last we checked not many of them are...

Open Minded said,
Samsung?

Asus (mainly with tablet) also and Sony or at least they do a really good push to OHA with their code

Are those on screen buttons at the bottom? That's so small. I feel like my fingers would be too big for that.

KSib said,
Are those on screen buttons at the bottom? That's so small. I feel like my fingers would be too big for that.

I agree. Maybe it's just a display showing you what screen you're on, and then when you swipe left or right, it'll highlight a different icon instead.

KSib said,
Are those on screen buttons at the bottom? That's so small. I feel like my fingers would be too big for that.

As JaykeBird mentioned, they aren't buttons. They're similar to the white dots used in iOS, but with icons instead.

KSib said,
Are those on screen buttons at the bottom? That's so small. I feel like my fingers would be too big for that.

I think this is for a tablet. They would be too small for a phone-size device. Not for a 7" or larger tablet.