Google Battles Android Fragmentation With Strong-ARM Tactics?

Google’s Android operating system has long been portrayed as the “open” alternative to Apple iOS and most other mobile operating systems. While Google typically works on new versions of Android behind closed doors, the company also typically releases the source code to device makers and the public at some point, allowing anyone to customize the operating system and use it how they see fit, free of charge. But according to DigiTimes and Business Week that may be changing.

We’ve already seen Google delay the release of the source code for Google Android 3.0 Honeycomb, in part to prevent device makers from porting the tablet-friendly operating systems to smartphones since it’s not really designed for that platform. But the company has been working with some hardware makers including Motorola to grant early access to Honeycomb in order to bring tablets to market. The new reports suggest that if companies want early access to Honeycomb and other new versions of Android, they’ll need to agree to “non-fragmentation” stipulations that allow Google to decide whether to allow proposed modifications.

That could mean that device makers will either have to run all of their design decisions by Google or delay the launch of their products by several months or more. That doesn’t sound very “open,” does it? Read the rest of this entry »