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Google exec defends allowing carriers to tweak Android

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.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Nov 2008


    Tweak indeed! Meddle is more like it.

    Is sticking c*** on end users smartphones really considered tweaking? I suppose it really doesn't matter to the average consumer what the carriers put on their products but it would be nice if users had the option of getting rid of that stuff if they wanted to. I guess the term "open OS" swings both ways for end users. This is why I feel that Google doesn't seem to be interested in taking responsibility of the uniformity of Android across the entire platform. It's probably OK for the tech-head nerds that can change things to their own satisfaction but for the non-tech users I'd say they're really being controlled by the carrier. Once the carrier takes Android Market away, I'd say that's going a bit too far from the whole point of Android being an open OS. It seems that would be damaging the Android ecosystem as a whole. I could see if Google built Android for the carriers and was getting some financial gain out of it, but they're not. Android is a puzzle to me.

  1. peter02l

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2009


    Let's hope

    that Google will eventually "learn what is good business and what is bad business." Are they looking out for carrier's or their customers?

  1. global.philosopher

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2010


    Google wants Android to dominate

    I'd like to pick up on Rubin's comment "the platform wouldn't win". This was a slip he made and obviously shows that Google wants Android to win a mobile platform war. Up until now Google have downplayed their goals of dominating the market but obviously this is not the case. God help us if Android ultimately dominates cause we will be once again at the mercy of carries and also we will have all those ads hammering our handsets. Lets not forget what Apple has gained for the consumer and what the carries and Google are trying to take back.

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