Google adds “non-fragmentation clauses” to Android OEM agreements to boost OS consistency

March 31, 2011
15

Google has reportedly been tightening its approach to Android modification by OEMs, inserting new "non-fragmentation clauses" into contracts and even attempting to delay devices which replace its own search with that of Bing. According to BusinessWeek's exec sources at LG, Toshiba, Samsung, Facebook and others, Google is now insisting that all modifications be signed off by Andy Rubin, with the threat of delayed access to future code hanging over their heads.

The sources suggest that OS modifications, new UIs, or even partnerships with other companies are all coming under Google's microscope, especially if they concern search or navigation. Rubin claims the standard Android agreement with manufacturers has always contained such clauses, and John Lagerling, director of global Android partnerships at Google, says it's a matter of quality control and working toward a "common denominator"; however, the reports suggest the policies have recently been tightened.

As a result, several companies have supposedly complained to the US Department of Justice. This week, Microsoft announced it will be requesting the European Union begin an antitrust investigation into Google over allegations it is acting in a way that unfairly prevents competition. More information on that here.


Recent Stories
  • http://twitter.com/luisdavim Luis Davim

    I think that it is important to reduce fragmentation…

  • http://www.sadokonline.com Sadok

    They finally listened

    • http://www.sadokonline.com Sadok

      To this I mean: Open Letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt bit.ly/fiLKrs

  • http://twitter.com/brianMedeiros Brian M

    reducing fragmentation so that updates can be pushed out more often on more devices. good.

    tightening control so google is the only search available on all android devices. bad.

    id like more control from google, but sounds like they are becoming apple.

    it should be simple. if you meet a set of guidelines, then you can brand your phone as an Android phone. If not, then here is the open source code, just call it a Blur phone or what ever your skin is. Android branded phones should have some control from google, but still not Apple control. Phones that don’t even get updates should stop hurting the Android name.

    • whosaidwhat

      What’s wrong with leaving it up to the user to download and use their choice of search? I don’t think google should allow OEM’s to take google search out of Android and force people to use bing whether they want it or not. Verizon wasn’t even allowing people to remove bing and replace it with whatever search engine they wanted. That to me is what the issue is.

      It’s like buying a Windows laptop to find out it comes with chrome but chrome cannot be removed or internet explorer cannot be installed. I’m sure Microsoft will be pissed if that happened to them so why should google sit back and take this nonsense?

      Google search should be the search engine shipped with android, it’s a core part of the OS. If you don’t want it, replace it with something else.

  • DITPL

    16 months ago, Android wasn’t a big enough player to pull this off. The only “hot phone” was the Droid on Verizon. A year ago, the first thing many Nexus One owners did was install an HTC Sense ROM onto their phones. It wasn’t until 2.2 Froyo that people really started to insist on “vanilla Android.” Now that OEMs and consumers are riding the Android popularity, Google finally has some weight to push around.

    I think that Google objects to Bing “replacing” Google Search. Having both is okay. But, remember, Google isn’t dumping millions of $ in development just to be nice. The only way that they get a return on their investment is through ads (in app and via Google Search). To ask Google to give that up is to ask Google to develop Android for free.

  • Mr Zuloo

    Finally! I don’t think Google is opposed to other search engines but It’s not right for phone companies to force Bing on their users. Microsoft comes with IE installed and you have to download Firefox or Crome if you want so Android has the same right to include Google as their main search engine unless you want to use others. Fragmentation is causing some problems and people usually blame it on Android. If companies want to change your Android experience they should create add on Skins or complete Homes but I should have the choice to use their GUI or NOT.

    • AnonGuy

      It’s not okay to put bing on android phones, but it’s okay for T-Mobile to lock the Browser Address Bar/Contextual Search Button search in WP7 IE to Google? Lolz!

  • Proprietary_Android

    I don’t see anything were it’s really going to reduce fragmentation for the end user. It’s still going to be “proprietary Android” on all OEM’s handsets and they will still do as they please. Users still have no option of an optimized stock Android on the handset.

    This just sounds like Google protecting it’s own search and ad interests. . . nothing to do with end user experience.

    • AnonGuy

      Bingo.

  • MoreConfusion

    Personally, I think Google would be ahead if they did lock down Android more.

    Because of the way they are doing it everyone is complaining and going to sue. However, if it were a proprietary OS then there would be nothing to complain about really. If WP7 & iOS can be shipped without any real changes then Android should be able to as well.

    Maybe they could make it a proprietary OS and sell it for next to nothing or give it away free and then have a specific license for the hackers to make custom ROMs lol. . .

  • http://www.facebook.com/BlakeO Blake Power Surge Ourso

    Step One: AOSP Android on all phones
    Step Two: Release of Kernels
    Step Three: We’d all have an AOSP rom with overclocking/undervolting
    Step Four: Celebrate.

    • Anonymous

      I just hope that all phone will have or have some method to get a unlocked bootloader, with this people can do the rest with AOSP :D

  • Shane

    Android is open source. The OEMs don’t _have_ to agree to anything at all. But right now, OEMs saying their modifications are the cause of several months — or much longer, in some cases — delays of updates is bad for consumers. If Google can reign that it, congrats to Google.

  • http://twitter.com/xguntherc Cory (xguntherc)

    People are all “google isn’t open source” now because of this and the honeycomb source not being released.

    Personally I think having a slightly tighter watch on who does what is a good thing. I’d rather all of us have a slightly better, and more similar experience. Obviously Android will never be like iOS, and that is a good thing, but a little more control is ok with me.