We've been suggesting that there's a difference between Google and Android for quite some time now. And it actually turns out that we were right (kind of)! Specifically, there are three different types of Android phones that can offer three entirely different experiences. So though some Android phones may look exactly alike, they could very well be the same device running three different versions of Android. 

Here's the specifics (NYT):

  • The Obligation Free Option: device manufacturers can download a free version of Android, load it onto their devices and provide access to as many or as few apps as they want. But the manufacturers cannot preload popular Google applications, like Gmail or Google calendar.
  • The Small Strings Option: Same as Option 1, except that manufacturers sign a distribution agreement to include Google applications on the phone. Of the 18 to 20 phones coming out this year, Mr. Rubin said, 12 to 14 subscribe to this option.
  • The Bigger Strips Option (or the No Censorship Version): This option is the "Google Experience" Option. You can determine the phones in these categories by the Google logo (like the T-Mobile G1). Google Applications are included, Android Market access cannot be blocked. Of the phones coming out this year, five or six belong to this category, Mr. Rubin said.