A little bit of connecting the dots has revealed that Qualcomm is the reason behind the new Nexus 7's lack of factory image / driver binary support. This has long-time AOSP maintainer Jean-Baptiste Quéru pretty upset. Upset enough that he is "quitting AOSP."


It's not clear if this means JBQ is quitting his job at Google (though the fact that he even wrote this kind of suggests he may be quitting / has quit), or that he's moving to a different part of the company / Android group. Either way, a much-loved member of the Android community, particularly the modification / development / open source types, seems to be departing. A sad day, indeed.

This also clarifies the issue more precisely: the GPU. Qualcomm's Adreno GPUs are an integral part of its chipsets, and it sounds like the company isn't too keen on opening that chip up, for whatever reason.

What does this mean for AOSP? It's hard to say at this point. We've reached out to JBQ for any additional commentary he may be able to provide.

Regardless of the reasons, JBQ, you will be missed.


David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Derek B

    (though the fact that he event wrote this kind of suggests he may be quitting / has quit)

    Should be the fact that he "even"...

  • Kenny O

    JBQ seems like a good guy, one that takes pride in his work and cares to do the best job he can. I wish him the best.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      JBQ is my favorite Googler. Or was a Googler that is.

      • Shitiz Garg

        He's still a Googler, but not where we would've wanted I guess.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          We don't know that.

          • Shitiz Garg

            He did say on Twitter he isn't leaving Google

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

            No, he didn't.

          • Shitiz Garg

            Hm, yeah I guess. I misread his post about loving Google. He didn't explicitly say anything about not leaving Google.

          • Fozzybare

            he said that all teams are hiring. https://twitter.com/jbqueru/status/364222783187714048

          • Guest

            He says they're hiring on all teams. The implication being that he's moving somewhere inside of google.

          • straydog


            I'm not sure what you're getting at. This is the most blunt statement he's made about whether or not he's leaving google. What are you talking about?

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

            Saying you like a company does not mean you will stay with that company.

          • PhilNelwyn

            It strongly suggests it though, particularly if it's followed by "they're hiring in all teams."

          • straydog

            omg, he says they're hiring on all teams afterwards. You're really twisting his words in denying his implication

          • Steve Freeman

            And he didn't say either way if he's staying or leaving, so you're assuming.

          • straydog

            I'm more responding to David's comments below that seem to interpret his statements as reasoning for why he is leaving when it seems to be the opposite. I'm not suggesting that I know for sure.

      • https://www.facebook.com/max.chen2 MC_Android

        I don't know why he would willingly leave a good job (with what one could suspect as a great salary) at a top notch company over this issue

        • dave

          Pride and honour. If you flag an issue 6 months prior, aren't allowed to fix it and then get blamed for the problems it causes I'm sure you'd be annoyed too. I'd imagine that at his level jobs are easier to find.

          • Jordan Thoms

            Not so much easier to find, more like he'd be mobbed by recruiters. When Zynga had the layoffs, recruiters hit the bars where the workers went to try to hire them.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Ideologies. Money isn't everything, and I'm sure he could easily find a new job that pays even more, if that matters to him.

  • cabbiebot

    :( We'll miss you JBQ

  • Nathaniel Webb

    It grieves me to see such a talented and just plain fun guy leave AOSP, but in the end you (JBQ) will ultimately be happier in the morning at first light, so in that, we all celebrate. :)

  • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

    His twitter suggests he's staying at Google at least

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      No, it doesn't. Not unless you forcibly twist the meaning of the tweet.

      • Thomas

        Well he also say he's quitting AOSP (not Google (Unless you forcibly twist the meaning of his Google+ post))

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          It doesn't take a whole lot of twisting to reach that conclusion when you call out a product partner of your current (or, now former) employer.

          • Thomas

            It may be true that he has no work to return to given his very public outburst towards one of their partners.

            But at the end of the day it's still speculation, I mean no disrespect, but shouldn't we just leave it at speculation until we have confirmation? And instead of hitting people over the nose for believing the opposite of what you do, actual focus on the fact that we lost a great person in the AOSP community?

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

            We never definitively said he is no longer working at Google, but people are definitively saying he still is, when there is absolutely no evidence of that. I'm simply pointing out that there is way more evidence in one direction than the other, though nothing is certain.

          • Thomas

            "Or was a Googler that is." from Artem surely says otherwise, and the post you're replying to says "suggests" not "proves".

            Nevermind though, I'm obviously not helping the case by continuing the discussion, I'm just kinda annoyed to see that rapidly the amount of comments regarding whether or not he is leaving Google is surpassing the amount of comments about his actual departure from AOSP.

          • straydog

            Maybe read his twitter like the above poster said and you can find that evidence?

      • straydog


        How exactly are you interpreting this?

  • Ethan G

    JBQ has done more for Open Source Android than...well...anyone. It's a sad day indeed to see this great man move on to something else.

  • RoshanKarki

    OK I'll take the job then.

    • Ricardo

      Oh boy! I wouldn't even joke about wanting to be the AOSP lead developer. Picture yourself being nagged by random people like he is (or was).

  • http://www.twitter.com/ricankng787 Hector Marquez

    Honestly, screw Qualcomm. JBQ stated he escalated this issue a long time ago, I do not think he is lying. Qualcomm is making a killing, but somehow can't work with AOSP to figure out the GPU issues.

    Unless they rectify this, ASAP, I probably will not be purchasing a Qualcomm-powered device. Sorry N7.

    • mlj11

      Just a point of clarification: he said he "escalated" it - if we go by the normal corporate sense of the word, I would simply assume that he brought up the issue internally, ie to the project and/or management team in Google itself who were responsible for obtaining the necessary data.

      That statement doesn't definitively mean it's solely Qualcomm's fault... Maybe the relevant people in Google failed to take decisive action too - and I think this would better explain why he's quitting his position.

      In any case, this really doesn't bode well for the Nexus programme, or for Android as a whole... :(

      • http://www.twitter.com/ricankng787 Hector Marquez

        Great point. With that in mind, regardless of who is to blame, this is still a very sad day for AOSP.

    • chaoslimits

      Can you name any recent devices which aren't Qualcomm powered?

      • http://www.twitter.com/ricankng787 Hector Marquez

        You've got me there (this list is damn near all Qualcomm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Android_devices).

      • Sir_Brizz

        Exactly. I don't think here are even any Tegra 4 partners this time. I would like to see nvidia get further with their SoC architecture, but who knows if or when that will ever happen...

        • renz

          Not many but they still exist. Toshiba and hp already coming out with theirs. I assume asus will be soon with their infinity pad

    • Björn Lundén

      The weird thing is that Qualcomm is perfectly happy to distribute cutting edge GPU blobs to anyone who signs up at their QDevNet developer network (you don't need to be an OEM or a custom or theirs). I assume they just don't want to distribute them without any form of agreement that you won't try to reverse-engineer them or something.

      Still, there are already some restrictions to how you are allowed to use the blobs released by Google so I don't see the problem there either. Now people will just revert to pulling them from system dumps so it's not like they gain anything by being restrictive.

  • Shitiz Garg
    • Shitiz Garg

      Probably a dick post on my part, but yeah. This really shouldn't have happened.

      • Thomas

        Technically speaking it escalated slowly though :P

        He will be missed though, I surely hope his reasoning wasn't any potential "Where's our factory image"-grief people may have spammed him with.

        • Shitiz Garg

          The news escalated quickly though, it went from no factory image to I quit in a few hours. I hope that as well, but a certain percentage of grief also seeps in with all the grief people give and entitlement they think they have

          • Raloc

            He mentioned he anticipated these problems 6 months in advance and was trying to alleviate it way ahead of time.

          • Shitiz Garg

            I know? I read the entire article...

          • Thomas

            I always felt kinda bad for him when users were sometimes "spamming" the dev groups about factory images,

  • Mauro

    This is really sad, I really liked JBQ as an AOSP dev.

  • mechapathy

    This really sucks. I liked JBQ. It also sucks that Qualcomm is making some of the best SoCs right now, and they refuse to release those binaries. I really wanted a Snapdragon 800 in the next Nexus. I guess I can probably forget that now...

  • Kurt

    Why manufacturers even allowed to distribute android if every bit of source can't be released as open source? I know google doesn't want them forking android though so that may be the main reason but it is messed up to the the least that they can profit off of open source but won't release their binaries.

    • Thomas

      Well there are almost no hardware vendors willing to go this route, it's been a long and hard battle for the open source community in general to get where they are today.

      One can only hope that the landscape changes to put more pressure on being open source, unfortunately there are quite some powerful companies like Microsoft and Oracle making sure that GPL and similar licenses don't get to a critical mass that will ruin their business model.

    • Stacey Liu

      The hardware manufacturers don't want their stuff being visible to their competitors.

    • Christopher Lee

      Messed up, yes, but you do realize that this is nothing new (and in fact, fairly intentionally built into many open-source licenses), no?

  • Ahmad Nadeem

    Google should just create their own custom processors,this would kill problems like these......Can't say if it is a viable option,not an expert here

    • EH101

      They could do this probably quite easily. The only problem would be the high cost of getting started essentially from scratch and with no initial R&D to work from(assuming they haven't looked into such an option before and taken pre-emptive moves). As for physically building the processors, they could go the Apple route and outsource to someone like Samsung.

      Of course this would piss off chip makers to no end. So that would likely be taken into account.

      • GryphKid44

        As for pissing off chip makers....Karma

        • EH101

          I agree, but a company as large as Google that is essentially trying to rule the mobile device landscape might think otherwise.

      • Christopher Lee

        "Quite easily" is where you lost me. What you've listed isn't an "only problem," it's a problem that has confounded any number of companies in any number of fields. You don't wake up in the morning and decide to produce a brand-new SoC.

        Google does not have the hardware engineers, the supply arrangements, the production facilities, or the delivery capacity to produce a SoC out of thin air, or, for that matter, to produce them quickly enough to meet demand.

        For heaven's sake, Apple's halfway there (they design their own chipsets) but they don't want to touch the manufacturing, and there's a good reason for that. Setting up those processes are expensive and time-consuming. It's not just a "the only problem" in the same sense that "there's a mountain there" is a minor issue for building a road.

        • EH101

          (putting tl;dr up here because of shear length)

          tl;dr Not only could Google do this easily, but they could also easily field version 1 of their chips in 18 months if they found a reliable partner to manufacture the chips for them. Google has more than enough resources to do so. /tl;dr

          You seem to have a distinct lack of understanding of how any of this (manufacturing) works.

          Hardware engineers? You buy them. Google has an almost unlimited amount of funds to accomplish that, especially compared to a start-up company. They could even buy initial designs from another company, or just follow ARM specs exactly to field something quickly.

          Supply arrangements? Did you miss the part about outsourcing to a Samsung-like company? Yup, they would take care of that. It would be their job to say, "ok Google, it will cost this much for the silicone, this much for the machinery/retooling costs, this much for overhead, this much for labor" (which might be included in the overhead depending how they like to sort things out) and so on.

          Depending on how it is negotiated, they would continue to itemize every little thing in the contract and the prices would be set on what Samsung thinks the acceptable output (tolerance) of the die will be. Furthermore, if Samsung has a bad batch and the tolerance is lower than expected, they have to eat the costs unless it's pre-negotiated for Google to share in such losses. This is manufacturing 101.

          Things such as delivery and packaging(if these were to be sent to OEMs to be used in their designs) would be figured out somewhere down the road. That is not a planning stage requirement. Never has been, never will be. Any good intro to design course will explain that negotiating logistics is worthless if your product isn't near design completion. Why you may ask? Because products evolve quite often in the design stage to utilize new technologies that may arise or even just to make it a little smaller.

          And I said specifically they could do it like Apple and skip the production side of the issue. This would both severely cut costs as well as limit risk associated with manufacturing error.

          Seriously, if you don't know what you are talking about, stay quiet. I'm a mechanical engineer. I know how this stuff works. It isn't rocket science by any means and a corporation as large as Google could pull it off quite easily if they deem it worth the cost.

          To elaborate even more, if Google wanted something that could be fielded within 18 months, they would either have to buy a company experienced in such manufacturing with a standing design team, or negotiate a deal with a company to both design and produce the chips for them. It could be done barring any huge setbacks, such as an entire run being manufactured out of spec.

          Now, if Google said, "chip OEMs aren't playing how we'd like, let's change the landscape in a few years," (ie, no hard time table) they could easily do this as outlined above and just hire the people they need as they need them and team up with a manufacturer just like Apple.

          To a start-up company, your mountain analogy would work. To a huge multinational corporation like Google, this is more akin to an anthill being in the way of Google's money, embodied by a steamroller.

          • OSagnostic

            If they want to use a standard ARM design Cortext A9 + Malli GPU, they could do that quite quickly, this CPU would be underpowered compared to Krait or Swift cores.
            They could use Cortext A15 + Malli GPU, the cpu would be more powerfull than either Qualcomm or Apple CPU but would be a power hog.
            Alternatively they could spend years doing what Qualcomm & Apple have done and design a chip that tries to get the best of both (never as fast as A15 but more efficient).

            The best way for a company with lots of money to get the best SoC, is the buy the highest bin.

          • EH101

            You are exactly correct, and a stock A15 with a good Mali gpu is all Google would need for a 1st gen chip. It would buy them time to do R&D for a full featured 2nd Gen chip.

            But realistically, there is no reason for Google to go this route even though they could. All that would happen is OEMs crying that Google is unfairly coding in optimizations for it's own chips into Android. Also, I doubt they would be able to keep cost low enough to keep Nexus devices at the great prices they currently hold.

      • Freak4Dell

        The only way Google could do it "quite easily" would be if they just bought one of the existing SOC makers. Without that, it requires a bunch of work, which is all very possible for Google, but certainly not easy.

        • EH101

          Not true. See below for detail, but they could in place of buying a company, either:

          1. Negotiate a contract for someone to do it all for them on a new chip with a clause that Google can open-source it all they want.

          2. Hire hardware engineers from someone like TI, or even Qualcomm and then negotiate a deal with someone to manufacture the chips for them.

          For a company of Google's size, these are well within the realm of quite easily.

          • Freak4Dell

            1. If they could have done that "easily", they would have done it with Qualcomm.

            2. Engineers might be the ones that create the chips, but the companies are the ones that own the rights and patents to them. Even if Google hired engineers from these other companies, they'd still have to start from scratch for R&D. Getting someone to actually manufacture the chips isn't the hard part. The R&D is, and that's nowhere near as easy as you make it out to be.

          • EH101

            1. They could have. It's all about money, if Google paid enough it would've happened. Everyone has a price. But Google is smart enough to realize it just isn't worth it.

            2. Who said they wouldn't have to start from scratch, re-read the original comment. Take it all in. Then realize, to get to market quickly, they can just follow ARM specifications, if they get a proper license of course. It takes little to no R&D to make a chip based completely off ARM specs. Now, if they wanted to customize the crap out of it like the Snapdragons, then you'd have a point. But once again, it boils down to money and having people with experience in the field.

            These things really aren't as complicated as you seem to believe. They're just very cost prohibitive to get started in.

    • brakar

      The sad truth is Google doesn't stand to gain anything by that. They don't aim to make money from hardware and custom SoC doesn't drive people to use Google services.

    • Danny Holyoake

      ... they should *just* create their own processors? Do you even have any understanding of what you're saying?

      No offence to Google, but it can't even launch hardware globally. I genuinely struggle to see Google managing to build an entire SoC for themselves.

    • Tres Waters

      Probably not a viable option. Google is a software company, not a hardware company, which is why they outsource their devices to Samsung, Asus, HTC, etc. R&D would cost a fortune to begin with, and thus raise the prices of their devices substantially until it got up and going. And with Nexus devices not being very popular among the typical consumer, it'd be so long before device sales reached a number for their new hypothetical hardware subsidiary to mature, that device costs would ruin the Nexus program's low cost/high quality image. My opinion is that the availability of AOSP driver binary support should have been agreed upon before Qualcomm. was contracted

      • Jose Torres

        ...but they now have Motorola, so it is entirely possible.

        • Tres Waters

          Motorola doesn't make SoCs, though, so it's not.

        • Tres Waters

          Motorola doesn't make SoCs

  • David Margolin
    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      That in no way implies he isn't leaving / hasn't left Google.

      • PhilNelwyn

        In no way? Really?
        "No worry, I love Google" sounds rather meaningful to me...

  • David Margolin

    this is all a conspiracy... jbq was having a bad day at work and just wanted to rant a bit on twitter.... he said "I don't want to go to work tomorrow. I don't want to be doing that job any more.".... Now Romain Guy (android frameworks team and amazing photographer) found his chance.... He had always wanted to work with jbq and this was his time... He devised a good way to get jbq to leave the aosp part of google and to join the frameworks team.... This was the way he did it ---> He replied "@jbqueru Don't :)"...
    that's all folks... jbq will now be joining the android frameworks team and the reason is Romain Guy.... The end...

    • Thomas

      I'm pretty sure JBQ doesn't have to publically shame Qualcomm in order to join the framework team.

    • Brian


  • Stiggy

    See this is why they should have went with tegra!


    • Sir_Brizz

      The Tegra 4 does look pretty comparable performance-wise to what the new Nexus 7 has, though. So maybe they should have.

      • Barnassey

        I agree with you there. the new tegra is FAST.

        • Stacey Liu

          It's also super power hungry. Stock A15 cores aren't ready for smartphone usage yet..as the TDPs are very high. They are only practical for tablets right now.

          • Barnassey

            Hmm the xda teardown and review suggests that it is not.

          • Sir_Brizz

            Or much larger batteries, like the Shield. But yeah. I would like to see nvidia get their mobile SoCs competitive because I'm sick of Qualcomm owning the market. It has been this way for 20 years.

            Their only real competition is the Exynos from Samsung, but the Exynos has pretty bad overall design and doesn't even currently support LTE. Really, this does make it seem like Google building a processor, perhaps through Motorola, that is well designed and competitive but not the only thing they work with might be a good idea. Anything to get the fire under Qualcomm's feet to actually allow factory images.

          • andy_o

            Exynos 5 also has A15 cores, no?

  • ralphwiggum1

    If the new Nexus 7 is running the same chip as Nexus 4, and the Nexus 4 has full factory images, why is there, once again, an issue releasing these images for the Nexus 7?

    • Neejay

      Because, fuck Qualcomm.

    • Sir_Brizz

      It's not running the same chip as the Nexus 4. It's basically running a Snapdragon 600 and it's doubtful the Adreno 320 is the same, either.

      • ralphwiggum1

        Hey guys. Not sure where the confusion is. Both Nexus 4 and new Nexus 7 run the Snapdragon S4 Pro (APQ8064 with 1.5GHz quad-core Krait CPU and Adreno 320 GPU). They are the same part.

        • PG King

          Not the same, Nexus 4 Snapdragon s4 Pro runs 4xkrait 200 cores, Nexus 7(2013) Snapdragon s4 Pro runs 4xkrait 300 cores (which is basically snapdragon 600 under-clocked at 1.5ghz). More info@ http://www.anandtech.com/show/7176/nexus-7-2013-mini-review/4

        • Sir_Brizz

          It's the same macro part number, but as far as I know nobody has actually dug down to the hard SoC in the Nexus 4 and seen the micro part number, because it is buried under the RAM. Most sites are assuming that the Nexus 4 SoC has Krait 200 cores while this has Krait 300 cores (making it more like the S600).

      • Drew M

        The differences between the S4Pro and the S600 are minor, they are basically the same. They feature the same Adreno 320 GPU, at the same clockrate, using the same memory interface at the same speed.

        • Sir_Brizz

          If the GPU is identical,why are factory images even an issue??

    • dcdttu

      N4 - Snapdragon 600
      N7 - Snapdragon 800

      GPUs are likely different, right?

      • JonJJon

        I thought the Nexus 4 ran the Snapdragon S4 Pro?

        • dcdttu

          Whoops! I've been looking at specs so much lately my brain is spaghetti with this. I should probably stop posting specs for a bit. :-)

          • JonJJon

            It's all random numbers and letter anyway ;P

        • dcdttu

          DUH. I've been reading too many specs lately. I should stop.

      • Christopher Lee

        Wrong processors for one, and no, they're not the same GPUs.

        • OSagnostic

          I think they are the same GPU Adreno 320 (maybe different clock speed)

  • Neejay

    David Ruddock - JBQ has changed his title on Google Plus to "Software Engineer at Google" vs. "Team Lead of AOSP" (might not be exactly what it was, but it was similar to this)

    EDIT: When I went to his profile page, I literally saw it refresh to the new title.

  • Cheeseball

    What does Qualcomm have to lose by providing documentation to Adreno? They did that for 205, 220, and 225 and look how successful those GPUs were.

  • Barnassey

    Whenever a company is loath to open up while being a part of a open source movement, means something is afoot...

  • JonJJon

    Hmmmm one can hope Google had the foresight, or perhaps sanity, to work with LG or whatever OEM on the Nexus 5 without Qualcomm being a part of it :-/

    It's a shame JBQ has gone, the more people like him in the industry the better.

  • Scott

    See this is where Google should have jumped on the Texas Instruments SoC division and snapped that up. They could have had their own SoC development for all their Nexus products under their roof, then they wouldn't have to dick around with the likes of Qualcomm and this BS.

  • Cemal

    I won't buy new Nexus 7 until I see factory images.

  • Osman

    We are not discussing about "source code". They are not releasing "binaries". Right?

  • Jose Torres

    This isn't a good sign at all. I doubt that having a hard GPU to crack was the ONLY reason why he quit. Does he know something we don't?

  • http://adumont.serveblog.net/ Alexandre Dumont

    Sad :'(. You'll be missed JBQ!

  • RaptorOO7

    Seems to me that Google doesn't have the level of control or agreements (contracts) in place to insure they have access to the drivers in a timely fashion. Isn't it a requirement that they provide the image due to the open source nature of the OS? Driver issue aside.

  • Dart

    This doesn't bode well for the Nexus 5. If it's, in fact, based on the LG G2, it will have the Snapdragon 800.

    If Qualcomm are going to be jerks about this kind of stuff, there will be no factory images or binaries for it either. This stinks.

  • Gustavo Gomez

    it sucks but Qualcomm is just better than Nvidia. I love my new Nexus 7, I didn't like the old one at all.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii
  • Paul M

    His Google plus profile:
    Says he works at Yahoo