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.
 
There are 4 comments

Tallbruva says:

Sounds like the end users might get confused and frustrated. Especially those who know the OS is Android but aren't able to use the Market because of being blocked by the carrier.

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Anonymous says:

I dont see the point of blocking the market thats the main highlight of any android phone. Without the market its just like any other touchscreen phone.

As cheap android tablets on sites like www.androidgold.com come on sale and flood the market from China and India, this is certainly an interesting issue to keep an eye on. I think as long as users can ultimately get the apps on their devices and have them work properly, there will continue to be a market for the maverick manufacturers who do not go to the effort to comply with Google's licensing policies.

This will benefit tech-savvy consumers who are up to the challenge of installing fixes and upgrades themselves, as well as developer who want to create their own hardware running on the Android mobile OS.