∞ Google's Android isn't so 'open' anymore

Google won over a lot of major companies by using the term “open” when describing its Android mobile operating system. Many are now finding out that “open” was more of a bait and switch.

[ad#Google Adsense 300×250 in story]Wireless carriers and device manufacturers were allowed to take Android’s source code and make modifications to suit its purposes. That was good and bad.

It was good that companies could personalize the operating system, but that also lead to many variants of Android on the market. Google stepped in and said no more.

According to Bloomberg, Google has made it clear there “will be no more willy-nilly tweaks to the software. No more partnerships formed outside of Google’s purview. From now on, companies hoping to receive early access to Google’s most up-to-date software will need approval of their plans. And they will seek that approval from Andy Rubin, the head of Google’s Android group.”

Wow. That seems to be a long way from being open.

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg says that Google is tightening its policing on “non-fragmentation clauses.” Facebook is apparently upset that Google wants to review modifications it made to Android and Verizon was reportedly held up because it wanted to make Microsoft’s Bing the default search engine.

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber was very clear in his thoughts about Google’s sudden change of heart.

“So here’s the Android bait-and-switch laid bare. Android was ‘open’ only until it became popular and handset makers dependent upon it,” wrote Gruber. “Now that Google has the handset makers by the balls, Android is no longer open and Google starts asserting control. Andy Rubin, Vic Gundotra, Eric Schmidt: shameless, lying hypocrites, all of them.”

I couldn’t agree more.