In what’s being spun as Google taking control of its mobile operating system, the company has allegedly put carriers and manufacturers on notice: no more screwing with the Android experience. If you do, you stand to be cut out of “most favored nation” status, which may lead to delays in Android updates (hard to imagine that getting worse) or possible exclusion from Android’s early-access program entirely, a dick move that would essentially render an Android device (more) DOA in a market where product turns over every month. Because the rhetoric seemed to work so well for Apple – even though its the antithesis of the “open source” talking point Andy Rubin has been chatting up – the move is designed to protect consumers against fragmentation. But Android is all about “open”. Unless you’re a tablet maker. Or a phone maker/carrier who doesn’t play ball by Mountain View’s rules.
Google certainly has a fragmentation problem, although they’ve always been quick to point out that it hasn’t had any effect on Android’s market share growth. So why now? Silly carriers/manufacturers. When Android was the only thing resembling an iPhone in the AT&T-exclusive years, Google couldn’t care less what you did with their OS as long as most of its search and services were getting into the hands of consumers. But now that it has a mobile OS with decent market share? Savor the taste of that hook, suckers. It’s going to sting a little as Google pulls your devices into the black hole of commoditization – all the while making billions of dollars regardless of which of your cookie-cutter Android phones consumers end up using. Try to differentiate your offerings too much and your end will come even sooner.
TMA’s only remaining question is for Andy Rubin: is Android still “mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make” or are you going to cut the shit already?