Skip to comments.The dirty little secret about Google Android
Posted on 08/23/2010 4:53:52 PM PDT by Swordmaker
Google Android began with the greatest of intentions freedom, openness, and quality software for all. However, freedom always comes with price, and often results in unintended consequences. With Android, one of the most important of those unintended consequences is now becoming clear as Google gets increasingly pragmatic about the smartphone market and less and less tied to its original ideals.
Heres the dirty little secret about Android: After all the work Apple did to get AT&T to relinquish device control for the iPhone and all the great efforts Google made to get the FCC and the U.S. telecoms to agree to open access rules as part of the 700 MHz auction, Android is taking all of those gains and handing the power back to the telecoms.
That is likely to be the most important and far-reaching development in the U.S. mobile market in 2010. In light of the high ideals that the Android OS was founded upon and the positive movement toward openness that was happening back in 2007-2008, it is an extremely disappointing turn of events.
When Apple convinced AT&T not to plaster its logo on the iPhone or preload it with a bunch of AT&T bloatware, it was an important first step for smartphones to emerge as independent computers that were no longer crippled by the limitations put on them by the selfish interests of the telecom carriers, who typically wanted to upsell and nickle-dime customers for every extra app and feature on the phone.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said, iPhone is the first phone where we separated the carrier from the hardware. They worry about the network, while we worry about the phone.
Almost for that reason alone, the iPhone was an immediate hit with customers, despite the many limitations of the first generation iPhone when it was released in June 2007.
Later that year, Google announced the Android mobile operating system and the Open Handset Alliance. Here was Googles statement made at the time:
This alliance shares a common goal of fostering innovation on mobile devices and giving consumers a far better user experience than much of what is available on todays mobile platforms. By providing developers a new level of openness that enables them to work more collaboratively, Android will accelerate the pace at which new and compelling mobile services are made available to consumers.
Then in the spring of 2008, Google pulled off a brilliant coup in the U.S. governments 700 MHz auction when it bid enough to drive up the price for Verizon and AT&T to lock them into the FCCs open access guidelines (which Google helped form). Verizon had initially fought the open access concept with legal action, but eventually made a 180-degree turnaround and trumpeted its own plans to become an open network.
However, Verizons open network plans have never really materialized. To say the company is dragging its feet would be a massive understatement. The best hope for a popular, unlocked handset on Verizon was Googles own Nexus One.
After launching in January 2010, first with access to the T-Mobile network, the Nexus One was planned to arrive on all four of the big U.S. wireless carriers by spring. The phone was sold by Google, unlocked, for roughly $500. Then users could simply buy service (without a contract) from a wireless carrier. Thats the model that has worked so well for consumers in Europe and the Nexus One was supposed to be Googles major initiative to start moving the U.S. in the same direction.
Unfortunately, sales of the Nexus One were tepid and customers were frustrated by Googles poor customer support. By the time spring rolled around, Verizon was still dragging its feet and eventually the Nexus One on Verizon was canceled and replaced with the HTC Incredible, a nice device that nonetheless completely followed the old carrier model.
By some reports, the Open Handset Alliance is in now shambles. Members such as HTC have gone off and added lots of their own software and customizations to their Android devices without contributing any code back to the Alliance. Motorola and Samsung have begun taking the same approach. The collaborative spirit is gone if it ever existed at all. And, Google is proving to be a poor shepherd for the wolves-in-sheeps-clothing that make up the telecoms and the handset makers in the Alliance.
As a result, we now have a situation where the U.S. telecoms are reconsolidating their power and putting customers at a disadvantage. And, their empowering factor is Android. The carriers and handset makers can do anything they want with it. Unfortunately, that now includes loading lots of their own crapware onto these Android devices, using marketing schemes that confuse buyers (see the Samsung Galaxy S), and nickle-and-diming customers with added fees to run certain apps such as tethering, GPS navigation, and mobile video.
Just as Google is overwhelming the iPhone with over 20 Android handsets to Apples one device, so the army of Android phones that can be carrier-modified is overwhelming the one Apple phone on a single carrier that allows it to stand apart and not play the old carrier-dominated game that resulted in strong handsets weakened by the design, software, and pricing ploys of the telecoms.
Despite the ugly truth that Android is enabling the U.S. wireless carriers to exert too much control over the devices and keep the U.S. mobile market in a balkanized state of affairs, Android remains the antithesis of the closed Apple ecosystem that drives the iPhone and so its still very attractive to a lot of technologists and business professionals.
But, the consequence of not putting any walls around your product is that both the good guys and the bad guys can do anything they want with it. And for Android, that means that its being manipulated, modified, and maimed by companies that care more about preserving their old business models than empowering people with the next great wave of computing devices.
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There is nothing more that can be said than what was in this article.
The even bigger scam perpetuated in the cellphone industry is text messaging. It’s ridiculous.
That's a dangerous way to get educated.
These aren't the droids we're looking for.
He can go about his business.
You can go about your business.
Move along... move along
LOL just got through reading this at TR and sent TheStickman a link.
Of course the unsaid thing in the article is it should have been expected that Google’s main goal is money (and growth/power). They may occasionally have some lofty geeky goals but they come to their senses soon enough.
I assure you, I was not educated by this article, nor was I suggesting anything of the kind.
I read it and I concur with it. That means I can add nothing to it. Which is exactly what I said.
To imply anything else is projection.
VERY sorry excuse for an article... I guess the ‘author’ never tried any of the wide variety of HTC or Motorola phones, which come with HTC and Motorola software. You MAY get a carrier logo on it, but that’s about it - it’s the phone maker’s software.
My last two smart phones came with bone-stock WinMo 6 (Samsung i760 bought September 2007) and WinMo 6.1 with HTC’s Touch UI on it (HTC Touch Pro2, bought September 2009). No Verizon software, and the only “Verizon” mark on either was a small logo up by the earpiece and the splash screen when booting (which, of course, you could change as you want - I changed both).
This article is nothing more than FUD meant to stop the tsunami that is Android. Android actually lets manufacturers, dealers, carriers, sellers - heck, even you if you wanted - brand and customize the phone as you desire. That’s called freedom and choice, and used to be celebrated by the technology press. My how times have changed...
Google is fascist.
“There is nothing more that can be said” is a much different proposition than “There is nothing I can add”.
Good point. I have the EVO 4G - and it's a fantastic phone. I really could care less that my carrier has a 3/4" wide logo at the top of the phone. It's like a mini-laptop.
Gotta agree with PSS here. Tell me, what was the holdup on tethering on the iPhone for the past few years? Was it AT&T stopping Apple from allowing it? Of course it was (AT&T now allows it, if you pay the $20/mo fee). Why did it take so long for Apple to approve a SlingPlayer for iPhone despite the fact that Sling has had one ready for years? Was it because AT&T was afraid of what it would do to their already over-burdened network?
To say that Apple somehow kept AT&T away from the device is nonsense. The article’s point seems to be that Android isn’t as open as it was made out to be. So what? Is the answer to go to a totally closed system created by Apple?
In fact, you have the source code to the OS - you can change the kernel, write and distribute applications and extensions as you desire. No restrictions from Google or the carriers. Android's kernel is freely downloadable, as are the development tools. You don't have to buy anything or pay anyone to write and distribute programs - it's the ultimate in open platforms.
Yet somehow this is being spun as "Google is Evil", or as we see right above (any coincidence it's post 13?) "Google is Fascist". Open and extensible and control in the user's hand is wrong, closed and capriciously restricted and power only for the carrier or manufacturer is right!
Freedom and choice used to be values of America, and foundations of the tech world. Closed, proprietary, heavily controlled/restricted systems were bad; open and flexible and user-configurable systems were good. I guess we've reached Orwellian time (those "1984" commercials of decades ago notwithstanding) when open and free and power-in-the-user's-hands systems are no fascist, hurtful, and bad...
I have the Samsung Vibrant, without rooting my phone I cannot remove a variety of apps from the phone. To add insult to injury these apps often start themselves. How is this better? It seems this doesn’t do much to give me control. I hope in the next iteration of android they at least make the manufacturer skins totally decoupled from the base os.
“Freedom and choice used to be values of America”
I admit it. Oracle Android is an excellent smartphone operating system. I’m sure Larry Ellison is happy Google chose to distribute it freely... without the proper license agreement. $10 per phone and a revenue share percentage for all mobile advertising will certainly help the Oracle bottom line. :-)
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