Internal Google Email Calls Open Nature of Android Into Question


Skyhook’s lawsuit against Google is about to add some new life to the debate over Android’s openness. The company is suing Google for allegedly using some industry elbowing to keep Skyhook’s GPS technologies off of Motorola’s Android devices. Part of the investigation called for several internal Android Team emails as evidence, emails that have now been made public by a Massachusetts state court. One email in particular doesn’t paint a pretty picture in Google’s favor.

Android open source and compatibility program manager Dan Morrill wrote “we are using compatibility as a club to make them do things we want.” While a quote from an email discussion taken out of context can be easily misconstrued, the words are still disconcerting to hear. Morrill’s words indicate that open-source or not, Google and the Android Team are employing a sort of preferential treatment to those who play by Google’s rules. Sure, anyone can still tinker with Android source and create a device running the OS but without Google’s blessing and the perks that come along with it.

Certainly not the news Google wants to have aired out just a day prior to the commencement of their Google I/O developer conference. It would not surprise me one bit if the issue is brought to the forefront during Q&A sessions.

[NYT via BGR]

Kevin Krause
Pretty soon you'll know a lot about Kevin because his biography will actually be filled in!

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  1. Slow news day? ;)

    1. slow? this seems appropriate regardless of volume of android news, hot shot. very intresting

      1. Google has a preference as to how companies use its OS… shock horror….

  2. Sensationalism at its finest. Every business is trying to push their respective industry in the direction they want. Who in their right mind would say “We got them doing exactly want we don’t want”? Strong arming other business to favor your business is part of business. For a site dedicated to Android, your loyalties sure seem iffy right now.

    1. dedication =/= loyalty
      But then again PHANdroid does make this site a weird looking pfhan/fan….either way…I am glad they posted this. Its news regarding google/android….Id like the bad news to be posted just as much as the good news

    2. I would say if you’re looking for loyalty…

  3. I swear whenever I see a negative article about Android on this site, I know it’s from Kevin without even looking 10/10 times.

    1. I’m glad we have a group of editors who are Android enthusiasts and not pure fanboys. I’d like to know more about Android & Google whether might be good news or bad.

      Obviously we just have pure fanboying readers..

  4. So what?

  5. “Sure, anyone can still tinker with Android source and create a device running the OS”



    The way I understand it, Google saying: “Anyone can use this platform and benefit from it in any way they see fit. But, if you do it in the way we think will create a cohesive environment, we will help you get the most out of it.

    So, basically: Fragmentation is a problem that Google needs to address; and actively trying to DE-fragment makes Google less open. I guess you can’t make everyone happy… or anyone, sometimes

    1. This is what I am thinking right now… is good, fragmentation is bad…..compromises cant please everyone……and I dunno why ppl are hating on Google these last few days….they are still doing a wonderful job that benefits its users more than most companies do.

      1. I had similar thoughts. . .
        “we are using compatibility as a club to make them do things we want.” = duh.

    2. You can make some of the people happy some of the time, buy ya can’t make all of the people happy all of the time

  6. Another shit article.

    1. than go somewhere the fuck else

  7. This is just silly, Powered by Google != Android. When I purchase an Android device Powered by Google, I expect a standard that can not be kept by allowing just anyone to throw their crap in the place of powerful Google tools. These people are welcome to include Amazon Appstore in stead of Google Market, and then include what ever GPS Technology they like in place of Google Maps. Thats the wonder of how open Android is, their is alternatives….

    But don’t complian because Google doesn’t want to stick their Market and seal of approval on every device. Android is open, not all Google apps.

    1. Exactly, it’s not really any different to the Nintendo golden seal of quality of the olden days (it’s been watered down since…), if you want to have the google experience you have to comply with certain things.

  8. Coming from BGR and from Zach Epstein. What a shock! Doesn’t he have another 10 iPhone rumor to post today?

    My take is they are Google is saying do as we say and get first look at the next version, don’t do as we say you can still get access to the platform, but you have to wait in line until they push it to the AOSP.

    1. Nice that you can edit!

  9. “we are using compatibility as a club to make them do things we want.”

    Who, exactly, is this supposed to be surprising to? This was pretty much printed on that label.

  10. I don’t get articles like this what am I supposed to think? Google is bad noe. This site is starting to lose my interest. This is political BS (the antithesis of logic). Nuff said

  11. If you find that shocking you’ve never read the dev mailinglist for a single open source project ever.

  12. Why aren’t you explaining the difference between Android and the Google Applications this is actually about? What is wrong with you? Any tech blogger who is blurring the lines here to make sensational “article” titles needs to get a new day job.

    1. agreed

  13. So what is the issue? This is the same with normal open source (Ubuntu Linux, or whatever). Say there is one main line endorsed and developed, administrated by most people/developers. Of course you can always fork or tinker, but you can’t expect the other people to follow you or include what you want. Only because google is a big company this should not change, independent of whether one thinks a particular omission/inclusion is good or bad.

  14. I think many people are missing the point of why this company is actually pissed off. They were set to make a lot of money off this deal, and Google basically made it so you CANNOT have that software on the device if you want Google’s stamp of approval. My question is why does crap like Motoblur and Touchwiz get the stamp of approval? How can Swype make it onto Android handsets and there be no issue? It all comes down to money…and no OEM is going to release a handset in fear of no updates at this point. It hurts the image, so Google makes it impossible to replace core applications on the device. Yeah, they can release it in the market, but we’re talking millions of dollars lost more than likely. If this project was your baby, you wouldn’t be saying, “well, this isn’t a big deal.”

  15. This article is nonsense. You speak as though Skyhook has no way of using Android unless they have Google’s blessing, which is completely false. So they don’t get their hand held through the entire process by Google… this is still OPEN. Google is merely giving extra resources out to those that follow Google’s vision. The main problem with this article is that the quote IS taking it out of context, yet you say it isn’t. This whole article is extremely misleading, because these facts have no relation to Android’s openness. Kevin, I’m gonna have a very difficult time taking your articles seriously now.

  16. I used to really enjoy phandroid.

  17. I don’t mean to direct all this on Kevin, you are just showing us some news that is posted elsewhere. But you could at least mention somewhere that what Google is doing is not a bad thing like the article suggests. Be informative, and explain that what Google is doing is nothing new, and that this whole lawsuit is just blowing a well known fact out of proportion, to make it sound bad to the general public.

  18. Play by googles rules and make millions sound ds good to me.

    1. Play by googles rules and make millions sound ds good to me.”

      “Motorola Mobility posted a loss of $81 million, or 27 cents a share, for the January to March period.”

  19. This is not nonsense! Microsoft does not FORCE you to use Bing in order for you to use the Internet, but Google really does. Don’t want to include Google Maps, you cannot use the Market. What are you going to do, start your own app store? It’s not like Amazon is finding out starting an app store is easy. If Motorola includes Skyhook’s GPS technologies then they lose the Market and early access to each OS, and a new company will get the edge on them. So Motorola has to do everything Google says (and Google does not mind if you customize Android) or lose the privilege that made the original Droid successful (first Android 2 phone) and the Xoom (somewhat) successful (first Android tablet).

  20. Google doesn’t force everything on OEMs. How many handsets have Bing as the default search? I believe that they all have the Market.

  21. you gotta do what you gotta do to keep them OEMs in line. . . now if they could just get something on the carriers :D

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