Google has been humming the same tune for a while now, blissfully ignoring the cries of fragmentation rallied against their Android OS. Not anymore, it seems. While the company isn’t flat out admitting anything, a new report over at Businessweek has it from people in the know that Google is cracking down on manufacturer customizations of Android and enforcing a “non-fragmentation clause” found in the mobile operating system’s licensing. We have seen an instance of this already with Google holding back the Android 3.0 Honeycomb source from all but a few privileged tablet developers. Those that are making Honeycomb tablets haven’t done much in the way of UI customizations, either.
Google’s public stance on the matter is that it wants to stabilize Android and gain an element of quality control. It seems a little too late for their decision to crack down, however. Android has always been called an open-source project, free for any company to use. Perhaps it is its huge growth in popularity that has finally exposed some of the problems with this thinking to the Android Team. And by problems we mean fragmentation.
To be included in the special circle of manufacturers some concessions have always needed to be made for Google, but it sounds like Big G wants more say in things now. There are apparently allegations filed with the US Department of Justice that Google purposefully delayed the launch of certain Verizon smartphones due to the handsets deploying the Bing search engine from Microsoft, a direct competitor to Google.
The days of calling Android truly open source may be numbered, whether you like it or not. Sure it might clean up things in the wild west town of smartphones, but at what cost to innovation?