Android Isn’t Nearly as Open Source as They Want You to Believe
You’ve probably never heard of Skyhook. They are a location enabling provider. And not too long ago, they were slated to provide location data collection services on two Motorola phones – the Motorola Droid 2 and the Motorola Droid X. Then, all of a sudden, they were booted from the two Motorola phones, and Skyhook filed a lawsuit against Google, claiming that they interfered in the ability to operate their business.
The lawsuit has led to a release of court documents that suggest Android isn’t nearly as open source as they claim to be.
While Google’s Android platform is completely customizable, the court documents reveal that Google has the final say in what tweaks manufacturers can and can’t make. They also can mandate that certain apps be preloaded on all devices, and determine what version of those apps are approved for what devices.
What’s most revealing is that Google has the power to delay shipment of given devices if the deem that they aren’t “Google compatible”.
What exactly does Google compatible mean? Apparently, it means whatever Google decides it should mean at the time. According to those same documents, Google has the right to change their Android Compatibility Test Suite (CTS) at will. That’s a lot of power that Google wields and if they choose to throw their weight around, a manufacturer like Motorola has a lot more to lose by angering Google than they do with a company like Skyhook.
That is exactly what skyhook is alleging Google did with Motorola, and its why Motorola’s iconic Android handsets don’t run Skyhook location data collection software. If you want to read a great summary of the 750 pages of legal documents you can click here.