updated 08:45 pm EST, Wed February 15, 2012
Whitman thinks Android may get lockdown
HP's chief Meg Whitman in a presentation at her company's Global Partner Conference on Wednesday was concerned that Google's likely completed Motorola acquisition would create a chilling effect in mobile. While she knew Apple's iOS by definition was closed, she was concerned Google might flip on the concept of openness now that it had its own hardware manufacturer, according to Channel Buzz. To her, this signaled the importance of Open webOS, since it might be the only option for some.
She went on to characterize Apple as "on fire," but was more reserved about Android, calling it a fragmented platform. HP's own perceived remedy to Android's effect would take two to five years to "fully play out," Whitman said.
Google would likely dispute the accusations, although it has delivered self-contradictory messages about the amount of hardware and software integration it wants. The search firm initially promised to keep Motorola at arm's length and use it for patent defense, but its chairman Eric Schmidt signaled an intention to pursue hardware. A recent poaching of an Apple employee versed primarily in hardware has also implied a desire to directly control Motorola's roadmap.
While Google has often touted openness, frequent criticism has accused it of often being very selective. It withheld source code for Android 3 out of claims that it wasn't ready to be worked with, and it keeps certain parts of even the opened Android code off-limits for developers. Third parties likewise can't contribute code back to the main Android branch, making Google the only one that can dictate certain kinds of new features.
If open, Android could still see Google prioritize Motorola phones for support by always giving them updates first or early access to hardware. HTC, Samsung, and others have publicly endorsed the Google-Motorola merger, but they also gave similar statements that implied they had been made to tow a common policy line.