Google just penned a lengthy post regarding the controversy of CyanogenMod receiving a cease and desist letter. If you need to fill yourself in on the details of the Google vs CyanogenMod issue, head back to our previous post to catch yourselves up (be sure to read the comments, as they are filled with thoughtful, quality commentary on the entire situation).

After giving background on the history of Android and lending support towards the custom ROM community, Google addresses the current situation. In Google-speak:

With a high-quality open platform in hand, we then returned to our goal of making our services available on users' phones. That's why we developed Android apps for many of our services like YouTube, Gmail, Google Voice, and so on. These apps are Google's way of benefiting from Android in the same way that any other developer can, but the apps are not part of the Android platform itself. We make some of these apps available to users of any Android-powered device via Android Market, and others are pre-installed on some phones through business deals. Either way, these apps aren't open source, and that's why they aren't included in the Android source code repository. Unauthorized distribution of this software harms us just like it would any other business, even if it's done with the best of intentions.

It takes a little effort to understand but it kind of makes sense. Google sees the Android OS and Google Apps as two completely different entities. Android the OS is built as an open-source platform, where customization and personalization is encouraged. Google Apps are entirely separate from the OS, they're developed closed source and come pre-loaded on specific Android devices through separate business deals, deals that CynagonMod never made. To include Google Apps in custom Android builds would infringe on copyright issues and thus be illegal.

What strikes us as odd is that without these closed source applications (Android Market, Gmail being chief among them) pre-loaded, custom ROMs won't be able to offer an experience as good as the official releases. Which means while Google officially says it supports custom ROMS, they're indirectly hurting the experience. In a sense, Google is saying that you can develop all you want but be sure to leave out the best stuff. How can you eat a cake without a knife and fork?

We're not happy with Google's decision and hate to see a great member of the Android developer Community be stripped of his work. But we remain hopeful that the situation can eventually be improved. Google has earned enough credibility and Android developers are still some of the best and brightest around. We'll figure out a way. We'll continue to monitor the situation and deliver you guys the details. Just hopefully next time, it'll be better news.

 
There are 11 comments

Jay says:

I have used custom roms on my Verizon touch and have been running anfroid for many months on it. I was planning on standing in line when they released an android phone. I am now seriously looking at sticking with a winmo phone on Oct 6th. I do not want a phone that I will not be able to use or get a custom rom on.
If it wasn't for people making android run on my phone, I never would have been looking to get an android phone.
Good thing google didn't stop those people from distributing their packages or I wouldn't be touting it to everyone I know that has a smartphone.
I hope something changes by Oct 6th but if not Google just convinced me to stay with winmo 6.5.

Erik says:

The contrast between Google and Microsoft is stark here. WinMo phones have an active community of folks cooking custom ROMs, and every one of those includes commercial software from Microsoft.

I'm a long time open source developer, and I'm still amazed that the only phone which doesn't need to be jailbroken, doesn't require approval for apps, and allows custom ROMs is from, of all people, Microsoft.

stv says:

As an iPhone user, one of the most annoying things for me has always been to be bounded to a proprietary architecture. This is why, despite the iPhone offers a great experience, I've been looking with a lot of interest into the Android world. I'm also a Google Apps customer (paying for it) and, while I would be ready to accept a fee for a business-like gmail on a phone, it is difficult to understand why Google offers a free, web based, gmail service (that you can access from your preferred e-mail desktop client) but is making a distinction if you want to access it with a phone. I'm not questioning Google's rights. They have the right to do what they want with their products.I simply believe Google need to rethink the value of open source. This seems as a short sighted move. I vote for Cyanogen. I think he has done for the success of Android more than many Google employees.

Ralf says:

I see where Google is coming from here but they seriously needs to rethink their strategy. The problem started when cyanogen included the new and unreleased version of the Android Market in his last experimental build. If Google's intent is to restrict distribution of unreleased software or modification of closed source software there are other legal strategies they can take.

Matt Jones says:

Right, so Google are basically saying "It's fine, but don't put our closed source stuff on there."

So what's the problem? If you're the type of person who wants to install a custom ROM you know how to download a app from the market, so Cyanogen just leaves them out and we download later!

What's the big deal?

emp0wer says:

Not so simple, a lot of code in those apps is needed to make the rom work, hopefully cyanogen will do what he said on twitter, strip out google an give us cm 4.2, a barebones rom.
G1 cm 4.1.11.1, stable and fast........

I vote for Cyanogen here. Come on, Google, don't shoot yourself in the foot.

Ajamin24 says:

Well I'm a Palm Pre user, mainly because Sprint took too damn long to get an Android phone to the market. Thats not the point of this post. First, I would like to say I completely agree with Google on this one. They have the right to say no if someone wants to natively give out apps that their workers works hard on and should get paid for. These are Google employees not Cyanogen's. Second, More power to you if you want custom roms on your phones. But I would bet that the vast majority wouldn't care about custom roms but they would care if they had to pay for an app that other can get for free. I wanted to "root" my Pre and I have friends that have jailbroken IPhones but if any of that coding is wrong or done incorrectly the average user wouldn't know what to do if the phone doesn't work. Not everyone wants to risk a broken phone. I respect all of the developers out there, your doing something I cant do, but if your program breaks my phone you have a disclaimer that says "use at own risk" your not at fault.

Anonymous says:

I am the first to admit that I'm a total newb. I downloaded cm's 4.0.4 a day or two before this happened. I didn't get it installed until 2 days ago. Btw, its a COMPLETELY better build than cupcake. Its almost ridiculous. However, @scottermonkey, I'm missing how the inclusion of the youtube, gmail, maps, etc. Really hurt google. We already paid for those apps when we bpought the phone. That's why the G1 and mytouch come at a premium. Its as if we bought an ms office suite and then wrote an OS that worked with it. The problem that I see, is that microsoft makes a distinction between office licenses that can be migrated and those that can't. Microsoft makes deals with manufaturers who can build OEM licenses into their hardware products. If the user decides to use a different machine (or even os/bios, I believe) he or she loses the rights to that software. Google hasn't made this distinction but I'm assuming this is how they are handling it. I'm glad to hear there will be a way to install them after the new os build is flashed. I just hope it isn't terribly difficult. Afterall, I'm a total newb.... ugh.

g1user says:

I can see where google is coming from on this one. And even tho Cyanogen is one of the best android cooks out there he is still just one little fish in a big sea. As mentioned on an earlier post google must protect their copyrighted software. Regardless of how cool cyanogen is it would be devastating if by allowing him free reign of their copyrighted material they inadvertantly handed it over to Apple... "Introducing the new IPhone 3gG, now with everything we could freely steal from google without reprocussions..."

And for those comparing winmo to android(and google to microsoft), in terms of openness... I don't get it, android the os is opensource... allowing developers 100% access to edit/modify/delete/troubleshoot every bit of code used to compile it.. last time I checked even the best winmo devs(and I'm not knocking the devs any, a lot of them are the reason android dev'ing has became what it is) could only edit/modify/delete/troubleshoot maybe 4% of the code used in any winmo release... and I believe this percentage is even lower when it comes to the apple and palm oses. Correct me if I'm a little behind on the times tho...it's been uh..a year or so...

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