July 22, 2014

Google Tightening the Android Reins

Google is taking steps to ensure that fragmentation and “willy-nilly” customization doesn’t slow the growth and success of Android. According to roughly twelve executives spread across various players in the Android space, they have begun clamping down so much that Andy Rubin personally approves who gets early access to software. According to these anonymous inside sources, Google has even tried to delay the release of Verizon’s Bing-flavored handsets. Is the Android team closing the doors on their open source platform? Not so much. Rather, they are taking a more active role in how devices perform and feel to the end user.

Bloomberg Businessweek is reporting that Google is beginning to more strongly enforce clauses in the Android distribution agreement, giving the company a “final say” as to how handset makers and carriers “tweak the code”. While some might see this as signaling the closing of an open platform, others will view it as being quality control.  Nothing here is new, it’s just that Google is living up to their end of the deal.  Well, unless Andy Rubin has taken on a Jobs-ian role for Android after all.  Then we’re talking about a different approach.

Fragmentation between various platform releases were a sticking point for the first few years of Android’s existence, something which has slowly begun to wane. As new builds are released further apart, device makers are able to stay on top of the game, putting out cutting edge hardware with the latest software. Just ask Sony Ericsson how much better things are this year by having the best of both.

As Android continues shooting skyward, Google would be wise to play a more active role with the platform.  Just because anyone and everyone can release an Android device, doesn’t mean they are doing it right.  Getting players to stick closer to Google and abiding by their rules is nothing but good for the consumer.