Does Google have too much control over Android?

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Today in Open Source: Does Google rule Android with an iron fist? Plus: A review of Lubuntu 13.10, and Carmack is skeptical about SteamOS

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Does Google Have Too Much Control Over Android?

Ars Technica takes a look at Google's tight control over Android. It's not quite as "open" as you might have thought.

If a company even wanted to consider forking Android and creating a viable commercial competitor, they would have to replicate everything in this article. Even then, you've only broken even. You would still have to give your users a reason to switch from Google's Android to your fork of Android.

Google does everything in-house. The company gets Maps and all of its cloud services basically for free. Any company trying to follow in these footsteps will probably have to outsource something on this list. Amazon having to license Nokia's Map data is an excellent example. Google sells ads against Maps—it actually makes the company money—while Amazon has to pay a per-user fee for its mapping data. This is the kind of radically different income situation an Android forker will be facing on a daily basis. Google's services cost less than nothing, and anyone competing will end up paying a monthly fee to some other company.

If a company does manage to fork Android and make something compelling outside of Google's ecosystem, there's the little matter of nearly every manufacturer being contractually barred from manufacturing a device that runs the new OS. Even if this new Android derivative is better, for an OEM jumping out of the Google ecosystem, it's probably more trouble—and risk—than it's worth.

While Android is open, it's more of a "look but don't touch" kind of open. You're allowed to contribute to Android and allowed to use it for little hobbies, but in nearly every area, the deck is stacked against anyone trying to use Android without Google's blessing. The second you try to take Android and do something that Google doesn't approve of, it will bring the world crashing down upon you.

More at Ars Technica

Well there's a bit of an eye-opener for anybody who thought that Android was totally open and that Google wasn't really in control of it.

I really can't blame Google to a certain degree, they're obviously paranoid about somebody walking off with Android and beating them in the marketplace. But the Ars article certainly rips the lid off the idea that Android can be taken easily by another company.

Lubuntu 13.10 Review

I'm rolling right along with my reviews of the buntus on Desktop Linux Reviews. I've got a fresh review of Lubuntu 13.10 up today.

Sometimes less can be much, much more when it comes to Linux distributions. Lubuntu 13.10 offers some of the advantages of Ubuntu but in a much more minimalist package. Lubuntu uses the LXDE desktop environment instead of Unity, and it contains less software than Ubuntu 13.10.

For example, you won’t find LibreOffice bundled into Lubuntu; instead you get Abiword and Gnumeric as your default office applications. Don’t worry though, if you really want LibreOffice then you can easily download it via the Lubuntu Software Center (more on that later).

More at Desktop Linux Reviews
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