Google – unfairly crushing competitors one company at a time?

android by Andrew Mason

★ Then Welcome to Android
[Via Daring Fireball]

Google vice-president for engineering Vic Gundotra, on-stage at the I/O developer conference in May, regarding why Google created Android:

If Google didn’t act, it faced a draconian future where one man, one phone, one carrier were our choice. That’s a future we don’t want.

[More]

I wrote earlier about what HTC is doing with its phones – putting it own apps on them and creating its own app store. Now we see from this that Google may very well have total and possibly capricious control of who accesses its App store – Android Marketplace.

Skyhook Wireless filed suit against Google because it claims that Google threatened handset makers with loss of access to the Android Marketplace if they continued to include Skyhooks apps on their Android phones. Since access to the Marketplace is a big deal, the handset makers caved.

Playing hardball like this in order to get its own software on the phones may explain why companies will try an work around Google. A carrier might make more profit if it included Skyhooks app but it is not allowed to by Google’s policies. It is not going to be happy.

And tying two aspects of a business by these sorts of tactics is what got Microsoft into trouble.

Here are the relevant parts of the lawsuit. The whole thing is at Daring Fireball.

22. Google’s established practice in determining Android compliance consists of two steps. The first step requires each Android-enabled device, and its embedded software, to be run against the Compatibility Test Suite (CTS), a software-based test platform that objectively evaluates whether the device and software are compatible with the published Android specifications. The second step involves a review of the device and software based on an amorphous outline of additional, non-standardized requirements known as the Compliance Definition Document (CDD). This entirely subjective review, conducted solely by Google employees with ultimate authority to interpret the scope and meaning of the CDD as they see fit, effectively gives Google the ability to arbitrarily deem any software, feature or function “non-compatible” with the CDD.

23. On information and belief, Google has notified OEMs that they will need to use Google Location Service, either as a condition of the Android OS-OEM contract or as a condition of the Google Apps contract between Google and each OEM. Though Google claims the Android OS is open source, by requiring OEMs to use Google Location Service, an application that is inextricably bundled with the OS level framework, Google is effectively creating a closed system with respect to location positioning. Google’s manipulation suggests that the true purpose of Android is, or has become, to ensure that “no industry player can restrict or control the innovations of any other”, unless it is Google.

So much for being an open environment. And a company that does not evil certainly plays the same sort of crushing hardball game to destroy competitors unfairly as most other corporations.

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