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Google pushes 'non-fragmentation' on Android, hits Verizon

updated 10:20 am EDT, Thu March 31, 2011

Google adding Android non-fragment clauses

Google's attempts to tighten control of Android got significantly more detail Monday with leaks from executives at its partners. The company has reportedly been putting tougher conditions on the "non-fragmentation clauses" it has to limit what OEMs can do to change the OS. Facebook, which is reportedly still working on its own version of Android despite denials, was reportedly upset that its arch-rival Google had to oversee its code, Bloomberg said.

Two sources also alleged that Google is now punishing Verizon for its decision to force the use of Bing on some Android phones, like the Samsung Fascinate. It's allegedly been using delay tactics for the hardware both as retaliation against Microsoft and to get phones with the stock Google search launching first.

These and Google's increasing tendency to favor certain companies over others for early hardware support have prompted complaints to the US Department of Justice for possibly anti-competitive moves. It's not clear if the agency has launched a formal investigation.

Google is known to often pick certain hardware makers as platform highlights and this year created a large amount of friction with Android 3.0. The Motorola Xoom was the reference design and shipped first, but tablets based on the same NVIDIA Tegra 2 chip and stock OS, like the LG Optimus Pad and Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9, are shipping soon afterwards. HTC at the same moment it unveiled the Flyer complained that Google hadn't given timely access.

Google has said it was withholding source code due to development shortcuts and has said it already had the anti-fragmentation clauses. However, as it hinted in explaining the source code, it's now believed the search firm is trying to contain the rabid fragmentation and poor-quality devices that have defined some parts of the market.

Many companies have often insisted on custom interfaces as ways of arbitrarily differentiating their Android hardware. The process has little positive effect for users and often ends up delaying upgrades by months where only 'pure' Google phones like the Nexus One and Nexus S get new versions in a timely manner. Google's lack of controls also meant that Samsung, and many ultra-budget hardware makers, ended up putting Android 2.2 or earlier on tablets despite a lack of optimization. The decision not only led to the Galaxy Tab and other tablets being orphaned from future upgrades but gave Android tablets a reputation for being cheap or poorly integrated.

The lack of Android 3.0 source, while meant for quality, conveniently prevents many of the low-end and clone manufacturers from properly implementing Android 3.0, including on phones and other devices that weren't meant to use it.

Google has long tried to insist it's open with Android and has tried to lord it over Apple, casting the iPhone as an oppressive platform. However, Google has been selective even in the past, including only giving out source code for certain versions and blocking certain kinds of changes. The new policies suggest the company is no longer happy with the degree of fragmentation and is adopting a partly Apple-like policy, even if it still has more flexibility.

by MacNN Staff



  1. pairof9s

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Trying to put the genie back in the bottle. Good luck, Google!


  1. bleee

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Android now an exclusive club

    Sounds like Google is turning Android into an exclusive club rather than a "Free for all".

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Two nosy marketing companies

    enter, one nosy marketing company leaves.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Where's wrechy?

    Looks like the little green robots are going after themselves now, no?

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Closing the door on "open"?

    I'm surprised it has taken so long!

  1. azakel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Dear Android fanboy

    I obviously love apple products, else i wouldn't come to this website, you on the other side wish you had an iDevice and come here to troll, but after you read this article i would love to hear you say that android is open and google is here on a mission from heaven to make your life awesome for free.

    Remember how after that keynote where Steve Jobs said fragmentation would be de demise of android? remember how you shouted and pouted that he was crazy and fragmentation has no effect on it?, well, apparently google doesn't feel the way that you do, Jobs was right and now you and every other company that just can't get a mobile device done properly or simply out in the market feel the need to demonize apple over them not sharing a piece of their profits.

    Ah to be blind and deceived, by the way there's an android OS update soon and your android phone is already 4 months old, throw it away and get a newest model so you can update it; me? oh yeah my 3Gs still holds the latest iOS updates, huh? no i didn't buy it 4 months ago, i bought it in 2009.


    Someone who doesn't like to have their information stolen, install an antivirus on the cellphone, or waste his money on disposable phones.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I hope the Android tablet market ends up in such

    a state of confusion that no tablet maker will want to use it or see any profits from it. I knew from the very beginning that Google rushed Honeycomb just for the sake of saying it had something that could take on Apple's tablet OS. Google just wants to flood the market with anything that has to do with Android. I'm sure it could take twice as long to develop a decent tablet OS as what Google put into Honeycomb but that's how greed works. I'd had to be a tablet vendor having to rely on Google and Android, but that's what you get when you get something for free. No company has a right to complain about it, otherwise they should start developing their own OSes.

    The more I see happening lately it appears that the tablet market isn't going to be like the smartphone market. It appears as though Apple may have another iPod market hold on their hands. The longer Android Honeycomb tablets are delayed, the bigger the lead the iPad gets. The iPad is so designed that hardware and software work nearly flawlessly and consumers have to appreciate that. Hopefully, when it comes to tablets, consumers will think iPad first and all other tablets a far distant second place. If Apple starts mass producing tablets, the costs will be driven down to the point that no tablet vendor will be able to compete for long. Apple and Foxconn just need to ramp up production as rapidly as they can and flood the market with iPad 2s so there just isn't any room for dozens of Android tablet vendors without them eating each other up.

  1. starwarrior

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Once set in front of experimental computer with raster monitor. I was the experimental user engineer with the reputation of breaking any machine by asking it to do things the software and hardware guys had never dreamed possible. They put a software guru on one side of me and a hardware guru on the other. As I tried my things, one or the other would in near real time fix what I had broken. After a while we had a beautiful software hardware integrated machine. Using interface control documents to glue the software and the hardware together is madness. Just like reading the bible, everyone tries to get to heaven in a different way. Few make it.

  1. chas_m



    There's that word again


    Only this time, it's coming DIRECTLY FROM GOOGLE as an ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of a SERIOUS PROBLEM.

    Wrenchy can officially STFU now (and his silence here is positively deafening).

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