updated 06:40 pm EDT, Fri October 8, 2010
Rubin expects the market to push carriers
Google VP of engineering Andy Rubin has defended his company's flexibility when allowing carriers to change or expand the Android OS. In an interview with PCMag, the executive also downplayed the current fragmentation of the platform. He suggests consumer demand will push companies to maintain the latest versions of the OS, although the market is still said to be in a transition period.
"If I were to release an operating system that I claimed was open and that forced everybody to make [phones] all look the same and all support very narrow features and functionality, the platform wouldn't win," Rubin said.
The executive argues that Google should try to avoid placing restrictions on what carriers can do with the platform, as the company generally tries not to draw lines. "The point of being open is that I've given up control of what can be put on phones, and put it in the hands of everybody in the community."
Rubin suggests that carriers will eventually "learn what is good business and what is bad business," despite criticisms that the current level of openness is inviting carriers to sidestep the Android Market or force content that many users dislike.
Following reports confirming that Verizon will create its own Android app portal, the carrier downplayed fears that V Cast Apps will serve as a replacement for the Android Market. Google's mobile platform has been mostly immune from being stacked with Verizon bloatware common on featurephones, however the V Cast Apps announcement did not help to quell growing fears. Verizon was also criticized for mandating Bing as the primary search engine on the Samsung Fascinate, while AT&T has blocked non-Market apps and other content from its Android handsets.
Separate reports indicate T-Mobile may have required HTC to build an anti-rooting chip into the G2, which automatically erases modified Android installations and reinstalls the stock OS.
In contrast, the iPhone represents a higher level of control from the manufacturer rather than the carriers. Although users are limited to downloading content from the App Store, iPhones are devoid of any additional bloatware that AT&T installs on many of its other handsets.