Stop the Noiz

Android: How Google Is Driving Away Its Partners

Frank Fox - 2012.09.25 - Tip Jar

Google has grown to the point where it is a problem for friends and enemies alike.

At first glance Acer, Apple, and Amazon would seem to have little to fear from an online advertising firm like Google. But that was before Android and Google's ever-present need to find new sources of revenue.

Android is the excuse Google needs to force all sorts of accommodations and agreements from "partners".

Apple and Google

Apple has made it clear since the launch of Android phones that it has issues with Google. First, Apple dropped Google CEO Eric Schmidt from its board of directors. Then it sued half a dozen manufacturers of Android phones. It also blocked Google apps on the iPhone. Finally, Apple dropped Google Maps and the YouTube app (YouTube has been owned by Google since 2006) from iOS 6.

Going from having Google on its board of directors to dropping every Google feature (except search) is a major shift. There is a clear chill in the air between these two companies. The differences are growing every year.

Amazon and Google

Amazon has followed a different but equally distancing route. It switched the Kindle Fire to the Android operating system but rolled its own version, so you have to use Amazon's store to get apps. Lucky for Amazon, it is not part of the Open Handset Alliance. It has the freedom to use Android without being locked in by Google's rules.

On top of this arm's length dealing with Google, Amazon also dropped Google as its search engine in favor of Microsoft back in 2006.

The latest move to distance itself is the switch from Google Maps to maps from Nokia.

When partners are choosing Nokia and Microsoft over you, it may be time to evaluate the perception of your company in the business world. I doubt that anyone believes Google's Don't be evil slogan any longer.

We could say that it is too bad for Apple and Amazon, but Google cannot go around trying to make everyone happy.

Acer and Google

Logo of Open Handset Alliance
Open Handset Alliance logo.

Then we learned that Google is putting its heavy hand on existing partners. Acer has been told that it cannot make phones with the Aliyun OS because this OS is not 100% compatible with Android. (Members are not allowed to produce phones that run incompatible versions of Android, but they are allowed to build phones that run other operating systems.)

If Acer wants to stay in the Open Handset Alliance, it has to toe the line and only make Android smartphones. Since Android is life or death for Acer's phone business, it has no choice but obey Google.

Now we can look at Apple and Amazon's decisions and see Google in a new light. The supposed open source loving Google likes things open, but only as it defines open. It is not like Google is offering to legal indemnify its partners who use only 100% Android; it is simply saying that to be part of this "open" project, you are limited by rules Google created.

What Google gives away, it can also take away.

Google is a partnership neither Apple nor Amazon can afford. LEM

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