Some interesting leaked news are hitting the airwaves today: according to a former high-level Open Handset Alliance executive from Google, the said Alliance was "nothing more than a myth".
The one-time company head called the group “oligarchical” and revolving solely around Android:
"The power is concentrated with the Google employees who manage the open source project"
The Open Handset Alliance
The Open Handset Alliance, founded and led by by Google in 2007, contained 34 large and small companies related to the mobile business, and this number only grew over the years, currently standing at 65.
The primary purpose of this *open* alliance was to share and mold ideas in the open, creating and maintaining standards together:
Innovating in the open
Each member of the Open Handset Alliance is strongly committed to greater openness in the mobile ecosystem.
Increased openness will enable everyone in our industry to innovate more rapidly and respond better to consumers' demands.
Our first joint project as a new Alliance is Android™. Android was built from the ground up with the explicit goal to be the first open, complete, and free platform created specifically for mobile devices.
Android Openness Today
Now fast forward to today and what do we have?
Google throughout all this time has been in charge of maintaining most of the code and deciding what is going to be part of the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) and what isn't. Google is clearly the main project owner but some argue that it is not giving enough say and ability to contribute to other potential contributors, prompting posts like this one (Is Android Evil?) which by now sparked quite a controversy around the web. The "openness" is at risk here.
What's worse, multiple branches, or flavors, of Android have emerged, created by phone manufacturers. You've heard of them - I'm talking about HTC's Sense, Sony's Rachael, Motorola's MOTOBLUR, etc.
Considering each company putting in the effort to make Android what it thinks it should be (mind you, most are members of the OHA) has absolutely 0 incentive to contribute the work back to the public branch, the "openness" at this point is out the window.
A bit of a conflict of interest, isn't it? The main benefit and the whole point of Android when it was created, was to create a single platform that would unify developers and manufacturers alike, and now everyone is going their separate ways all over again, causing compatibility issues and multiple delays in Android version upgrades (hey, it's our favorite subject nowadays!).
As Electronista points out,
"Many OHA members have taken a much higher level of interest in Android in the past several months but have rarely kept to the stock Android OS or shared their knowledge"
So it really didn't come as a huge surprise to hear that the OHA is not as open at all, with Google in control and its members not feeling that it is necessary to contribute back. One has to wonder what else happens behind closed doors. It looks like the membership in the Open Handset Alliance ended up being nothing more than a VIP badge for manufacturers, such as HTC and Motorola, as well as carriers, such as T-Mobile, but without the privileges they thought would come with such a badge.
Whether Google's control caused the split and the sour feelings or on the other hand multiple Android flavors made everyone greedy (the chicken or the egg?), such a feud is not good for Android.
Google Like Apple?
Electronista continues on to make the claim that Google is starting to resemble Apple when it comes to core features of the Android OS and what happens to them:
"The attitude mentioned by the executive hints at Google adopting a more Apple-like control over its mobile OS. Android is still partly open source and is less strictly controlled, but the revelations now imply that Google often has near-exclusive input into the core features"
Currently, Google has not made any comments about these claims.
Are we being too harsh with Google? Probably but that's because we don't want another Apple to happen to us. What do you, our readers, think?