Will Google defend Android and its good name?

Will Google defend Android and its good name?

Summary: When people get what they think is a Google Android phone and find it filled with phone carrier crapware they can't delete, they get mad at Google.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Google
109

Google is a big time brand.

By that I mean it stands for something. It's not just an advertising presence (it doesn't buy ads), it's a set of assumptions and beliefs with a positive emotional resonance for its market.

For those who believe the brand's promise it's the only choice.

"Don't be evil" may drive cynics away, but it's a powerful message many people believe nonetheless.

Google is risking nothing less than its brand through its passivity over Android. Carriers have hijacked the mobile Linux distro and turned it decidedly evil, sometimes even preventing buyers from accessing Google without jailbreaking their phones.

CEO Eric Schmidt's response has been completely passive. Were we to restrict the use of the code, we'd be violating the principles of open source, he says.

Maybe, but Google is not completely powerless here.

  • It could do more to encourage jailbreaking, which is legal, to make it easier.
  • It could deliver a "clean" (Google-branded) version of the software directly to consumers.
  • It could empower its own channel of service people to represent its interests in the mobile market.
  • It could deliver a Google-branded phone.
  • It could impose conditions on the Android trademark restricting what carriers can do in its name.
  • It could talk to the carriers, or talk to the public, jawboning on behalf of Android consumers.

By doing none of these things, Google has allowed its brand to be hijacked, and abused by companies who do not have Google's interests at heart, who are in fact opposed to its business interests.

When people get what they think is a Google Android phone and find it filled with phone carrier crapware they can't delete, they don't just get mad at the carrier. They get mad at Google. Yet Schmidt won't even acknowledge this reality, let alone do anything about it.

Schmidt cites the example of Java, which Sun found itself losing control of before making it open source under the GPL. But the question is not binary. It's not either you make it proprietary or you make it an orphan. Every open source business worth its market cap knows that.

Evil grows when good men do nothing. Google's refusal to rein-in the carriers is hurting the Google brand. That hurt will grow until it acts.

Topic: Google

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

109 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Will Google defend Android and its good name?

    It is really making me angry when someone spoils Google's name...
    scifibabu
    • Especially when it Google doing it.

      @scifibabu

      Google, starting with the Google Books project, removed any doubt that "Do no Evil" was there only for the gullible.
      Bruizer
      • RE: Will Google defend Android and its good name?

        @Bruizer Would someone please explain this comment?
        relativityboy
      • RE: Will Google defend Android and its good name?

        @Bruizer Google makes money by collecting peoples personal information and monetizing it one way or the other and without your permission. Its their business model. Thats the definition of do evil.
        thiel.terry@...
      • @relativityboy

        By going to an opt out concept of books to put on their site, Google continues to draw traffic and make ad revenue on other peoples full work without permission.

        Google does not believe in copyright and feels they can make money off of others people's work without going through the effort to track down the property owner . Very evil. This is what made me realize that "Do no Evil" was a marketing line to draw in the gullible.
        Bruizer
    • No mystery here. To answer your question, RTFL! (license)

      @Dana Blankenhorn

      umm... what? Carriers and users being able to modify android how they see fit is the core idea behind android.

      Being an author of the linux and open source section of this site, you should probably know how open source software works. If you want to find out why Google is powerless to stop carriers from adding stuff to the phones they are selling, you should probably read androids licencing because that is how they set up what users of the software can and cannot do with it is by the license. I'm sure (hope?) you know this and just had to write something even though its completely sensational garbage.

      Section 4 of the apache license, which is what android is released under, reads: "You may reproduce and distribute copies of the Work or Derivative Works thereof in any medium, with or without modifications, and in Source or Object form" and then it goes on to list some conditions which are basically saying that you have to state that you added something or modified the code so that people know they are getting something modified ie. HTC Sense UI or MOTOBlur. And that when you redistribute the modified software you include the licence and then it says this, "You may add Your own copyright statement to Your modifications and may provide additional or different license terms and conditions for use, reproduction, or distribution of Your modifications, or for any such Derivative Works as a whole, provided Your use, reproduction, and distribution of the Work otherwise complies with the conditions stated in this License."

      I'm not even a journalist and I found this stuff out in about 30 seconds by searching
      tevroc
      • RE: Will Google defend Android and its good name?

        @tevroc Is that the problem Oracle has, is that Android is under the Apache license? How can it be under the Apache license if it uses a Linux Kernel? I think the Dalvic VM does NOT create a far enough distance between code interaction to prevent Android from requiring the GPL.

        Just what the hell is Android?
        prof.ebral
      • RE: Will Google defend Android and its good name?

        @tevroc
        Why don't you try RTFA?!? Your response was addressed directly therein. In fact, over 50% of the article DIRECTLY addressed this issue. Dana acknowledged that under the open source licences, there was little Google could do directly to limit what carriers could do with the code, but they most certainly COULD do something to make this kind of code hijacking untenable.
        There is nothing in the GPL that states that Google could not take out ads campaigning against specific models, for instance. Nor does the GPL restrict Google inserting code DEEP in to the release that makes such practices difficult. Sure it can be removed, but it is really quite easy to insert the code so intrinsically that its removal is problematic. Even easier would be for Google to revise the code such that jailbreaking any device and switching out the OS to the Google-certified release would be as trivial as downloading an app.
        Your tirade, and all 30 seconds of your research on the GPL totally missed the point.
        DeusXMachina
      • RE: Will Google defend Android and its good name?

        @tevroc

        He's not saying Google should sue the carriers! He's saying Google isn't doing anything to defend Android! Here's a more detailed version of his example. If you like Mint, great, but if you don't, you can get Ubuntu without Mint. Ubuntu still too "bloated" for you? You can get the Debian source. Debian still to rigid for you(crazy or bored?)? Then you can download the kernel and compile yourself.

        Google is hurting Android because there is nothing between Mint and pretty much the Kernel. They haven't defined Android canon.
        tkejlboom
      • RE: Will Google defend Android and its good name?

        @tevroc

        But it sounds like you haven't really read the licensing agreement yourself, something we all know cannot be done in "about 30 seconds".

        The truth is that although anyone can use and modify the open source, you cannot call the modified product whatever you want: you cannot call it 'Android' unless it meets certain requirements.

        If Google wants to protect its name and reputation it has to enforce that judiciously, sometimes vigorously. In particular, allowing Crapware in their name is a very bad idea: it may be too late to undo the damage now.
        mejohnsn
      • RE: Will Google defend Android and its good name?

        @tevroc It is always amusing to see someone like you post on a forum. First you brag about how knowledgeable you are then you proceed to prove that you have no idea what you are talking about.
        Android, which Google bought from another company. is far from entirely open source. Everything that has to do with interacting with hardware is not open source. They have sued several companies that have tried to use hardware interface code for phones without licensing it from Google. Google does not accept contribution to the Android source. They may say they do but that don't. So if Android is open source it sure as hell is the most tightly controlled open source project in history. So you see thats actually how "open source software works".
        I'm quite sure Google did not intend for Android to be bastardized by Google with Bing. Google bought the Android OS because they want mobile search. They don't really care about anything else. Like UI, Hardware quality, cutomer experience or service. The only way they make money from Android is through search and use of other Google services. So now they have given Verizon and Samsung an OS for free and they get nothing in return. In fact they lose money. They won't allow this to go on forever. Right about the time other carriers start punking them the way Verizon has you will see something change.
        As far as your cut and paste of the Apache license that has no bearing on the subject at hand.
        thiel.terry@...
    • RE: Will Google defend Android and its good name?

      @scifibabu
      And now you turn green......
      relativityboy
  • Well said, sir

    However, I think that Google is pandering to the carriers to keep them pushing out android phones. If there weren't a bunch of great developers coming up with solutions for people who don't like what the carriers do with their phones, I think Google would be more likely to take a stand. But as it is, there ARE solutions, and people who care enough about solving them will find them. I hope they try to do a Nexus 2, but at this point, it'll be hard to get the problem carriers to sign off, or hard to get customers to pay full price for a phone.
    jljansen
    • So Android is a geek OS?

      @jljansen

      Android is turning into Win95 in all the bad ways.
      Bruizer
      • I wouldn't say that

        @Bruizer
        I don't get the Win95 reference(I'm probably too young, I thought Win95 was the greatest thing in the world) But as far as having to be a geek to fix things you don't like about your phone, I don't agree. There are plenty of hand-holding guides out there for rooting, and often rooting isn't even necessary. I'm not saying it's for everyone, but at least they have a way if they care enough. I'm not saying this is the best for Google, some people will get ticked off and never buy another Android phone, but it's price Google pays for letting the keeper of the keys get their way.
        jljansen
      • Google will pay a price

        @jljansen

        Only a small percentage of users care or even know what rooting or jailbreaking is. The phone most consumers buy will the phone they use. So if carriers continue to taint the "Android experience" with bundled crapware that can't be uninstalled, and OEMs continue to offer ugly skins which is indifferent from core Android. Then the big loser long-term will be Google. As mentioned, carriers and OEMs only care about their own interests, not Eric Schmidt?s child-like "Open" philosophy. We're already seeing this with Verizon removing the default Google search and replacing it with Bing on the Facinate, and developing their own competing App Store.

        As it stand right now, and unlike iOS, BlackBerry, WebOS and WP7, there's no one Android user experience. The inconsistency between phones are astonishing, and it may get worst. The average Joe buying their first Android Phone and expecting an "Android Experience" may be left with a bad taste in their mouth for the brand and go someplace else, for good.
        dave95.
      • It is what you use it as - that's a luxury not afforded by "other OS's"

        @Bruizer Because it offers you the choice to root it and mod it - that only makes it a geek OK if you choose to go that route.

        If you run it as your carriers provide it, it's as simple as you'd expect a modern smartphone to be - simpler than BlackBerry OS (my former), on par or almost as simple as iPhone OS (depending on your enjoying or being frustrated by the inflexibility of the UI), particularly with default UI settings. And if you wish to install a loader app, you can change the UI - again, only if you choose to. The default experience is the simplest and most enjoyable for non-geeks.

        It's nice to have choices- It is flexible to you, where Win95 required you to be a contortionist to all it's quirks.
        geolemon
      • @jijansen: "There are plenty of hand-holding guides out there for rooting"

        @jljansen <br><br>Thanks for proving my point. That was simply classic. I am amazed at the number of my "geek" friends that are looking into WP7 (from Android) to simply get away from this. They really do not want to live through Win95 again.
        Bruizer
      • @geolomon: "Win95 required you to be a contortionist to all it's quirks."

        @ geolemon <br><br>After using Android for 3 weeks, I would say the same is true for Android. It is far from seamless and easy to use when compared to iOS. The development environment is light years behind as well.
        Bruizer
      • RE: Will Google defend Android and its good name?

        @Bruizer I've been using Android for about the same amount of time and having no trouble at all. I don't know what you're saying about not being "seamless." Looks pretty good from here.
        Rinzai