Andy Rubin on Android’s Openness

Andy Rubin:

Recently, there’s been a lot of misinformation in the press about Android and Google’s role in supporting the ecosystem.

Where by “a lot”, I think he’s mostly responding to this piece for Businessweek by Ashlee Vance and Peter Burrows.

Our approach remains unchanged: there are no lock-downs or restrictions against customizing UIs.

But that’s not quite a rebuttal of what the Businessweek story reported. From Businessweek, emphasis added:

There will be no more willy-nilly tweaks to the software. No more partnerships formed outside of Google’s purview. From now on, companies hoping to receive early access to Google’s most up-to-date software will need approval of their plans. And they will seek that approval from Andy Rubin, the head of Google’s Android group.

As Jason Kincaid writes at AOL/TechCrunch:

The key words here are “early access”. Yes, as Rubin says, manufacturers can still access the Android code once it’s released and the same old rules apply, but there’s no doubt that Google is giving preferential treatment to certain carriers and hardware manufacturers in return for their cooperation.

And, as the Businessweek article points out, there’s a strong incentive to get first dibs on a new version of Android. You’re first to market, you get loads of press coverage, and so on. Google can dangle this carrot, and then ask for restrictions that go well beyond what it typically requires.

Thursday, 7 April 2011