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Documents: Google gives special access to some Android OEMs

updated 05:10 pm EDT, Wed September 7, 2011

Lawsuit shows Google gives early edge to some

More documents just publicized in the Oracle lawsuit against Google could have far-reaching implications for Google's buyout of Motorola. Although largely confirming existing beliefs, it shows that Google's official strategy is to "give early access" to Android code to those who use the stock OS. Motorola's original Droid and Verizon were singled out by name.

Also confirmed was Google's self-contradiction on its insistence that it's open. The company's policies are to "not develop in the open" and only give out source code "after innovation is complete," by which point Google has the edge on any features. Google has said it withheld Android 3.0 source over concerns about how well-designed its code was for developers, although many have noted that this conveniently prevented the new OS from reaching the glut of low-end tablets arriving at the time.

Oracle also stated the commonly recognized view that Google has a hand in the hardware design of certain phones that weren't necessarily branded as its official Nexus models. The T-Mobile G1 and G2 are often cited as key examples along with the Droid.

The search firm's chairman, Eric Schmidt, has already gone on record as saying that Motorola's hardware played a factor in the $12.5 billion acquisition. Just how much control Google might want to exert hasn't always been clear, however, and seeing a formally codified policy of giving OEMs like Motorola privileged access could raise alarms for the ongoing FTC investigation. Leaks have suggested Google fully intends to pursue an iPhone-like model of direct integration and could see Google compete against many of its own partners.

by MacNN Staff



  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    You mean Google, the people spending the billions to develop the OS, are giving some people preferential treatment of the code over others? Man, next thing you know we'll hear how Apple gives some developers copies of the iOS that aren't available to others!

    And the only contradiction on the OS being 'open' depends on someone's definition of the term. If you talk to the far-left-wing OSS nuts, it's not open because Google doesn't have keyboard loggers on their computers broadcasting the code as it's being written.

  1. facebook_Dennis

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Sep 2011


    Not Open -- then don't expect to use Nortel patent

    As part of the government ruling as I understand it, Microsoft, Apple and others who purchased the NorTel patents recently had to allow the FOSS community to use them without restriction. Seems to me that this confidential part from Google makes Android not open source.

    So far as comments from Testudo (even though I know he's just trolling -- how about actually reading the requirements written in the open source licenses Google is claiming to be part of and deciding for yourself.

  1. bitwrangler

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    Sorry testudo, but yer missin the point. It's now a proven fact that Google is playing favorites with OEM's, which while not illegal, is bound to give further pause to "non-favorite" OEM's esp. in light of their acquisition of Mot and their claim that they will "continue" to treat everyone equally. Apple has never ever made any such claim, that's the difference.

    As for "open", Rubin himself was obviously "confused" as to what open meant. After all, folks couldn't get their hands on the 3.0 source for quite a while, _and_ there are parts of Android that Google considers proprietary and _won't_ distribute. Uh, how is that "open"? It's a quasi open model, similar to how Apple does it (e.g. Darwin + proprietary = OSX/iOS).

    See both things show that the issue isn't necessarily what Google is doing, it's how it presents itself. They _say_ that they have a particular agenda, but their actions are increasingly belying that public message. They are increasing the perception that they are at their core no better than any other company with regards to doing whatever it takes to make a buck and that "do no evil" is simply a slogan that was created to further that goal. And if it's true that they've been playing fast and loose with other folks IP, then they will have to deal with the ramifications of such decisions.

  1. Zanziboy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Don't be evil?

    Google is about as evil as any other company. Giving certain OEMs special access to code prevents innovation by other partner companies, while claiming not to play favorites. Now, with the purchase of Motorola, how can anyone trust Google to play fair? This is likely to cause further consternation to Korean manufacturing cooperatives, who are considering developing their own OS just to avoid further hoodwinking by Google.

  1. facebook_Robert

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Sep 2011


    Testudo is right

    You can call it trolling if you want, but there is nothing wrong with making decisions with your own work.
    There is nothing wrong with having closed source, having open source, or like Darwin/Mac OS X - a combination of the two.

    These are just decisions people make with their own time, money, and effort.

    As far as being open source - those glut of low end tablets did arrive on the market with Android, precisely because those companies got their hands on the source without paying for it.

    It's no secret that Android 3.2 will be open source eventually, but you don't get early access to it, for nothing.

    So that is the process Google uses, what of it? It's no big deal.

  1. facebook_Robert

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Sep 2011



    I also used the example of Darwin/Mac OS X - but there is a big difference, you know.

    There isn't a glut of Darwin tablets or computers arriving on the market - there isn't a glut of Darwin machines that run Mac OS X apps just fine, being built.

    You say its just a matter of degree, a matter of wording, but Google's wording is spot on.

    They say they open source, because indeed they are open source.
    And the proof is in the pudding.

    Android tablets arrive on the market everyday, from people who copied the source, and paid no license for it.

    The latest version of Android is posted a little late - but it is posted. Guess what is garbage - Darwin.
    Apple never posts a version of Darwin that is useful to copy the code and build your own Mac clone.

    You are the one being disingenuous with words - not Google.

  1. bitwrangler

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Actually my comparison was with the fact that apparently Google has "highly confidential" code in Android (hence their complaint to the ITC in the MS vs Mot case). So the entirety of Android is apparently not "open source"? If so, then it is a mix with Google maintaining proprietary code as they see fit and open sourcing other parts. I do agree that the ratios are likely radically different when comparing the two, but then again, like I mentioned, Apple has never claimed to be anything other than what it is (a closed source solution that is partially derived from open source) vs Google's ramblings about open source.

    And don't de-emphasize the timing issue. If Apple open sourced all of iOS 1.0 10 years from now, I don't think anyone would really agree that it's "open source". If Google plays favorites and only allows select folks to get their hands on certain releases when Google deems that they (themselves and the select OEM's) have "completed innovation", then the "open source" aspect of the software becomes more of a side effect, or if one is so inclined, it becomes yet another marketing tool.

    Bottom line is that it's hard to believe that anyone truly thinks that the open source nature of Android exists because Google wants to do good by the world. It's the most effective path to grow their revenues now and into the future. They can't afford to have folks like Apple (and to a lesser extent RIMM/MS/HP) being able to short circuit their ads via the use of apps and ad infrastructures that they don't control. _That_ is why Android just happens to be open source (that and they jump started themselves by utilizing open source to begin with).

  1. facebook_Robert

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Sep 2011



    Wow are you confused by the phrase 'do no evil.'

    The idea of not doing evil - is a good idea. Are you advocating evil? You recommend evil?

    The fact that Google has a cute corporate saying that says "don't be evil" doesn't ever - not by any reasonable person mean they they aren't a corporation whose mission is to bring value to shareholders.

    It means not to be evil. Their mission is to make money - to provide value for their shareholders - without doing evil.

    That is the mission of every corporation - to earn money at least. Somehow you misread Google's slogan, and went way overboard with it.

    The fact is many corporations including Apple have worked with China's government to censor people like the Dali Lama. Google struggled with that issue and made different choices. They don't censor the Dali Lama, and they've paid a price for doing that. Apple just went along. Dali Lama apps are not available on iTunes China - despite the fact, that Apple once used the Dali Lama for their 'think different' campaign.

    I don't read a lot into 'don't be evil' but its good they try to do the right thing when they believe their is a principle at stake.

    Nothing wrong with that. It's a good goal to strive for - and I recommend they continue.

    But that's a side issue. If Apple opened sourced 1.0 of iOS 10 years from now, that'd be great, that version of iOS would be open source. If they wait long enough - it may be so old that nobody cares - but the point about Android is its not that old and people do care - and the open source is used.

    You can claim that google is offending people by offering free code - but they aren't.
    Your argument is sophistry.

  1. facebook_Robert

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Sep 2011


    The old "license iOS" fallacy

    The old fallacy being repeated here by the fanboys is basically these corporations are going to walk from Google's Android - out of an emotional response, from being 'offended' by Google - and then run and license iOS.

    Oh wait, some of you admit Apple doesn't license iOS.
    So they'll get offended and write their own iOS from scratch. oh wait, they don't have the resources to do that, and that didn't work for Palm, Nokia, or Microsoft - some of you will admit that. (jury still out on Bada)

    Oh so, they'll get offended and commit corporate suicide and stop selling their products - oh wait - they won't do that - some of you will admit that.

    Look, these corporations aren't offended by all the profits Google is throwing their way - they just aren't.
    They may pull an Amazon and fork Android.

    That - they may do, but none of you ever get that...and the reason is, is that would still make it android - forked, fragmented, but you know you already said that about Android. It's more or less still an android compatible platform that developers can target

    you can't admit the truth of what is actually the likely outcome, because that outcome still doesn't favor apple.



  1. facebook_Joseph

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Sep 2011


    Marketing, not spelling, genius

    be the sheppards?

    I think shepherds is intended here.

    Oh well, "don't be evil" genius doesn't have to spell well. Sigh.

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