Google Tightens Its Grip on Android

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So much for open source.

Google has decided to move a bit closer to Apple’s approach to business and has begun to lock down its Android operating system, requiring hardware manufacturers who want first access to Google software to receive its permission before making any alterations or partnerships regarding the software.

When companies want to include the operating system or even the company’s services like search and maps on their hardware, they must first be inspected by the discriminating eye of Google.

Android LogoWord of this tightening of the leash comes by way of a number of executives at top companies that, in some capacity, are involved in the Android ecosystem. This includes such heavy hitters as LG, Toshiba, Samsung, and apparently even Facebook which, according to Businessweek, has been trying to develop an Android device.

Google is not without a sense of compassion, though. As a reward to those chip and device makers who abide by its rules, Google gives them first dibs on bringing its Android products to the market, according to the executives. Indeed, this would jive with what we saw most recently with Motorola and its Xoom tablet, which was the first device on the market to run Google’s tablet OS, Android OS 3.0, aka Honeycomb. Whenever a new version of Android is being developed, Google will select a chipmaker and device maker to make the first, flagship product that will show off the new OS in the best fashion while utilizing all of its new features.

This may not be enough, though, to relieve some of the tension that is now supposedly brewing between manufacturers and Google. The inside sources claim that there have been enough run-ins with Google now to have triggered some complaints with the justice department, and only time will tell whether or not this can be solved amicably.

Adding fuel to the fire is Google’s decision to not release the source code for Honeycomb, even though all previous versions of the Android OS were made available to everyone. The company says it made this decision because Android OS was created specifically to run on tablets, and Google doesn’t want device manufacturers to put it on smartphones.   

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