Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 13th Feb 2014 23:38 UTC

Another day, another fear-mongering 'Android is closed!'-article at Ars Technica. After Peter Bright's article last week (sharply torn to shreds by Dianne Hackborn), we now have an article with the scary title "New Android OEM licensing terms leak; 'open' comes with a lot of restrictions".

The title itself is already highly misleading, since one, the licensing terms aren't new (they're from early 2011 - that's three years old), and two, they're not licensing terms for Android, but for the suite of Google applications that run atop Android.

This article makes the classic mistake about the nature of Android. It conflates the Android Open Source Project with the suite of optional proprietary Google applications, the GMS. These old, most likely outdated licensing terms cover the Google applications, and not the open source Android platform, which anyone can download, alter, build and ship. Everyone can build a smartphone business based on the Android Open Source Project, which is a complete smartphone operating system.

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Member since:

I love how Amazon provides us with nice counterexamples for all those uninformed opinions about how GMS is necessary and AOSP without it is useless.

Chithanh, you didn't even read my post, did you? If you did, I don't see how you could have missed this:

This doesn't mean that AOSP not useful, or is a poor OS, or any such thing

or this:

t just means that we need to recognise that AOSP and Android are becoming two different things

This is demonstrably true. Many games written for Google Android will not run on the Kindle Fire. An even better example is Ouya, which has had to run promotions to get game devs to code for their OS, because games written for Google Android will not run on an AOSP based OS. WHICH IS THE PRECISE POINT I HAVE BEEN MAKING!

Ach, I'm sick of this. You can have the last word.

Reply Parent Score: 3

Alfman Member since:


I agree with you, it is a legitimate concern that the proprietary bits being added by google are causing applications to break on the open source versions of AOSP.

The right thing for google to do, if they aren't willing to open source the proprietary bits, would be to put the proprietary bits behind a vendor neutral open source API for others to implement. Otherwise we can conclude they're knowingly (if not deliberately) fragmenting the apps to work on Android but not AOSP.

Diane Hackborn's post, while rightfully correcting misinformation in the arttechnica article, has it's own bias and didn't do a convincing job (to me) that google isn't trying to fragment AOSP using proprietary web service bits. Surely they are smart enough to know that their proprietary bits are *effectively* causing fragmentation of the platform.

From a business perspective I understand where google is coming from, they want to use proprietary bits to promote & differentiate their services. Otherwise, if others were 100% compatible, there would be far less motive to use google's services in the first place, which is obviously bad for google. However the exact same could be said about microsoft's method of embracing, enhancing, extinguishing myriads of protocols/formats/standards. The circumstances are a bit different, but there are similarities and the result is largely the same: fragmentation keeping the market dependent upon one's own implementations.

Edited 2014-02-14 16:23 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

ichi Member since:

An even better example is Ouya, which has had to run promotions to get game devs to code for their OS, because games written for Google Android will not run on an AOSP based OS.

Weren't those promotions to get developers to release timed exclusives for Ouya? (ie. not available on any other device for 6 months).

Reply Parent Score: 4