Google tries to become Apple

Don't be evil?

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Businessweek is reporting that Google is shifting away from its open-source, open-handed approach to Android development and toward one that requires hardware makers and software developers to get its approval before they get to play with Android.

Until recently Google let phone manufacturers and carriers make changes to Android to add features, new services or tweak it to run more effectively on their hardware – that didn’t have to supervised or approved by Google.

Now Google is enforcing the “non-fragmentation clauses” in contracts covering Android -- insisting that any changes meet its approval or get thrown out.

"There have been enough run-ins to trigger complaints with the Justice Dept., according to a person familiar with the matter.,” Businessweek reports.

Google’s decision to hold back Honeycomb, the next major version of the Android OS, rather than give it to developers to work with, is part of the drive for control, according to an earlier BW story.

Of course, Google could be keeping Honeycomb to itself to bring its tablet-specific functions closer to parity with the iPad2 so it can compete in the tablet market that is supposed to be its next great growth area.

Android has a long way to go to catch up with iPad, according to Apple developer, blogger and fanboi Justin Williams.

At the introduction of the iPad2 March 2, Apple CEO Steve Jobs estimated there are fewer than 100 Android apps designed for tablets, compared to 65,000 in the iOS App Store that “take full advantage of the iPad” and a total of 350,000 iOS apps.

Williams checked. Of the 50 apps listed as having been slated for tablets, only 20 had any functions that took advantage of any feature of a tablet, rather than a phone, except being viewed on a larger screen.

That would be enough to make anyone nervous.

Nervous enough to clamp down on a famously open development environment and “don’t-be-evil” corporate mantra?

Maybe. There has always been some justification for Apple’s obsession with controlling all the hardware and software that runs in, on or near any of its products.

That level of control honestly does ensure better integration and more consistent experience for users.

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