Carriers, manufacturers who play nice get 'non-contractual time to market advantage'

Google Legal

Can't say this surprises us much. Think back to mid-May, when This is my Next's Nilay Patel did a bang-up job explaining that whole Google-Skyhook brouhaha and the alleged strong-arming of carriers and manufacturers to conform to Google's way of thinking (developing, really) when it comes to Android.

Fast forward to now. FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller has been dissecting documents just filed in the Oracle v. Google case (which involves the Java code used in Android), and tucked in there is the bit of a bombshell you see highlighted above. Let's take a look.

"Do not develop in the open. Instead, make source code available after innovation is complete."

Sounds horrible, doesn't it? But that's actually the way Google's been doing things all along. It all goes back to your definition of Android being "open." Or, as our iPhone-loving pal Rene likes to call it, "Openy." Yes, Android is "Open source" in that the code is eventually made public. (At least it was until we got to Android 3.x, which is still locked up tight.) But Android's never really been developed in public view. For that, look to my favorite example, Mozilla. You get nightly builds. Changes to the source code are immediately made public. Same goes for the CyanogenMod project. While it's based off the released Android Open Source project code, from that point out it's a community endeavor.

No, it's the second bullet point that's more damning.

"Give early access to the software to partners who build and distribute devices to our specification (ie, Motorola and Verizon). They get a non-contractual time to market advantage and in return they align to our standard."

That's really not a surprise either, but it's more evidence that in the land of Android hardware development, it's not exactly a level playing field. (We're also wondering just where Verizon putting Bing on a number of phones fits into aligning to Google's standard.)

This, of course, is all the more important since Google purchased Motorola. While Andy Rubin said that Motorola will remain independent and that it won't become the de facto manufacturer for the Nexus line, documents like this aren't exactly giving us warm, fuzzy feelings.

Source: FOSS Patents

 
There are 33 comments

This is actually how I think Google should be handling ALL the Manufacturers . . . Make them do things. Force them to not fragment.

brendonsled says:

This is how they treat them, nothing has changed.
Google creates the software in a closed enviroment, and anyone that wants market access after the source is released google must approve

DaEXfactoR says:

Part of me wants it to be open and free. But it doesn't seem like Google can run Android like that and maintain a certain level of control over the platform.

Macterryh says:

This Is Yet Another Anti-Trust Violation By Google. I Hope The FTC Sees This Document.

dmcman73 says:

How so? Then the FTC should go after Apple as well since they only allow their OS on their devices, they dictate what software can go on their devices, etc. Please explain how this is an AntiTrust matter?

Coolaaron88 says:

Apple is closed source, they can mandate what can go on their own devices. They never preached to be anything else.

Android is open sources, yet as you can see Google is giving preferential treatment to OEM's that kowtow to their demands

timtahtinen says:

Android is open-source, closed-development. It makes sense for Google to give insider knowledge to its partners, so that they can design devices with stable drivers for new features. Also, Google has always said that OEMs that work with them get preferential treatment; that's why mainstream devices get access to Google Apps, and the more obscure companies that don't properly release their modified source code don't.

We don't know when this document was created and distributed within Google. Just because it mentions Motorola and Verizon by name doesn't mean that they don't treat HTC, LG, Samsung, Acer, and others the same way. If this document was made around the push of Android 2.0, then the emphasis on Motorola and Verizon would have made sense; they were about to release the OG Droid with a massive marketing campaign, hopefully to introduce Android to the mainstream.

Quigs427 says:

wow someone who thinks

gobucs214 says:

It's people like you (Macterryh) who think getting the government involved in businesses is the answer, must have been an Obama voter!!!!!

ScottJ says:

No. He doesn't seem smart enough to be an Obama voter. He was probably a McCain voter.

frettfreak says:

you are a moron (Macterryh)!

woof#AC says:

"Be the sheppards of the standards we created". Uh it's shepherds. Spell check anyone?

vineetv36 says:

Didnt surprise me...why else did OG Droid was the first android 2.0, XOOM was the first 3.0, and current rumors are that Droid Prime is first 4.0

johncblandii says:

What I think is missing here is the context. In what context was this document presented?

* Definitive plans
* Things to consider
* What "I" [one employer] thinks Google should do

A lot of thinks sound really bad out of context. Dig into that Android Central and put all this "jumping the gun" to rest.

Don't think anybody here is jumping the gun. Not like we used a headline like "Shocker for Android OEMs" or anything. Nor did we freak out that Moto and Verizon are mentioned in the slide.

timtahtinen says:

I wish, rather than posting everything that Florian Müller says as gospel the moment he says it, that sites would ask Mark Webbink at Groklaw for a second opinion and post something that isn't so one-sided. I've always found his input refreshing (given that he, you know, actually has formal, legal experience in his field).

Foremost, Müller is a lobbyist. Webbink is a lawyer.

Mikey47 says:

I guess I just don't understand. Why is any of this bad? Imagine is Google Maps were to be developed completely in the "open". Everyone including competitors would see this as soon as they began work. I completely agree, keep it hidden until after you've released.

And preferential treatment to companies who agree with you, sign NDAs? Omg they're evil!! Well at least people who see a problem with this are...

Quigs427 says:

whats wrong with those statement there still more open than any other mobile is and if a phone company agrees to do what they want for temporary excusivity who cares look good for people who want there bloat free phones subsidized

Verizon is a Google "favorite"? Someone needs to show Google the Fascinate,Revolution, and other BING "infected" Android devices.

mikejs78 says:

Florian Müller is an anti-Google troll. He sensationalizes stories, and makes allegations out from any other company that is suing an Android manufacturer out to be fact, and yet he is treated as Gospel by the tech press.

He's a Microsoft troll. He seems to prefer to predict doom and gloom for Android and Google the most, but he'll go after Apple too when the case involves MS. I don't know why so many people take his thoughts on patent law as gospel, he loves to scream FUD when it comes to Android.

Kip_Droidry says:

AndroidCentral please don't give Mr. Müller any time of day. He clearly has an agenda against Android. He was the one that back in January stated that he found evidence that Google violated Oracle's copyrights (http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011/01/new-evidence-supports-oracles-ca...), but was later clearly debunked by ZNET (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/burnette/oops-no-copied-java-code-or-weapons-o...)and Ars Technica (http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2011/01/new-alleged-evidence-of-...). TechCrunch even wrote an article today questioning Mr. Müller (http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/07/the-bombshell-that-wasnt-foss-patents-a...) The guy isn't a lawyer, just pretending to be. Can't believe this guy gives legal advice on his blog. If you want knowledge of the Oracle v. Google matter, please go to a website written by real US lawyers like Groklaw (http://www.groklaw.net/index.php). The site can be dry with legal verbiage, but that is what runs our Courts not bloggers with an agenda.

frettfreak says:

i see nothing wrong with this. This is hardly a smoking gun that points to preferential treatment. Moto got the same treatment BEFORE google bought them. and any other manufacturer that wants to play by googles rules will get the same treatment.

Doesnt look like google is limiting anyone from doing anything they want. Just that if you follow googles guidelines, you get more stuff. Seems pretty logical to me. Especially with all the "fragmentation" nazi's out there. They have to do SOMETHING to keep the platform somewhat consistent. If they didnt most of you would be bitching about that... so if you dont like the openness (or lack there-of in YOUR opinion) go grab an iPhone and good riddance.

mwm says:

Closed development followed by source release has been a standard practice in the open source community for decades. Cygnus made money doing ports of GCC to various architectures under those conditions. OpenSolaris is managed that way. There are probably other examples as well. Sure, we'd prefer open development, but if this is what it takes to get someone to pay for development, it's not a bad deal.

The issue of strong-arming vendors - well, we don't have enough information. If this amounts to "we'll tell you things we haven't released to the public provided you don't release them until we do", then it's no worse than the closed development model. If it's "you'll do all Android development our way", then it's as bad as microsoft cutting prices for vendors who charge for an MS OS on every system they ship.

dwhall says:

Slow news day eh?

TuxDotKing says:

I was sad to see MeeGo go before, but after reading this I completely miss it.

NormanGC says:

Here's something to ponder.

1) If the source is truly open source, why do we not have unrestricted access to the entire source?

2) If the source is truly open source, why is the boot loader locked?

3) And lastly, why is it acceptable for Google, Verizon, HTC, Motorola and all, to force the consumer to take the 'phone', it's really a computer, with all the bloatware and be forced to use Bing or Google as default search engine? Didn't Microsoft lose billions of dollars for doing the exact same thing?

Consumers should have the choice to choose the default browser and be able to choose what programs are going to be running! When you buy a laptop today, you have the option of having Windows or any flavor of Linux. You also have the ability to REMOVE garbage without jumping through hoops and you can install any software that you desire without having to ask permission to any manufacturer.

Blah says:

This is different because Microsoft abused their monopoly by strong arming manufactures to not include Netscape, etc. Manufactures are installing Bing for example and not Google.

While there may be similar parallels, it's not the same thing here.

First of all Google doesn't have a monopoly.

You'd be able to say the exact same thing about Apple or RIM if this were an abuse.

ydaraishy says:

1. You do. Where do you think CyanogenMod get their source code from, thin air? Google publishes the source online. http://source.android.com/

2. Google don't have influence over some manufacturers, and when they do, the devices are unlockable (Nexus devices, Google "lead devices" -- just like the PowerPoint slide says).

TuxDotKing says:

2) Because Google didn't have the balls to go GPLv3.

BrandoHD says:

This article is very misleading, what the writer is implying (especially with the comparison to mozilla) is that Google release the source for a product that it has to sell to the world, while a browser on a computer can be run in beta with known bugs, I don't really know much people that would willingly buy a phone to be told that the software on it is in a beta stage

Now if you but that phone and you decide to flash a beta ROM on it, that's your business, but I won't buy a phone with software that's been labeled as beta

plunder says:

I am positively itching to hear what you all say about this in the Podcast. Is this a change in approach by Google, or just clarification?

movielover76 says:

Google needs to provide preferential treatment to companies that follow google's specifications, the biggest problem with Android and poor skins put atop android, imho HTC Sense is the only skin that is helpful, Samsung Touchwiz is a little nice, but the lack of quality control and infrequency of updates leads to unstable and slow software. and forget about blur, that's a waste to install on anything. I think google should enforce and manufacturer skins can be disabled completely, without extra running services from the skin slowing the phone down (the one problem I have with sense on my thunderbolt) and replaced completely with an alternate launcher.
They also need to keep the software closed until the devices are released so apple doesn't steal all of their ideas before the devices are released, and apple has stolen a number of android improvements.
Android is far more innovative than apple and I support any steps they need to control the android ecosystem and make sure it continues to succeed.