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Google, ARM discuss Android standardisation

Posted: 06 Apr 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Android OS standardisation  open-source OS  Android OS iterations 

A Digitimes report quoting unnamed sources at notebook computer makers says that Google Inc. and ARM Holdings plc could be discussing a proposed standardisation of the Android OS for an ARM-based chipset.

Although Android is supposedly an open-source OS developed by Google and the Open Handset Alliance, there are reports that Google is insisting on a more disciplined—and some would say Microsoft-like—approach to the Android development in an attempt to resist fragmentation.

According to a BusinessWeek report, Google is insisting on non-fragmentation clauses in contracts with developers. Companies that want early access to forthcoming iterations of Android now have to get approval for plans from Google. And there is concern that where developers wish to develop applications that could compete with Google functions, such as search and mapping, that approval could be withheld or delayed.

Google has said there are no plans to release version 3.0 of Android, known as Honeycomb, because the source code is not ready. But at the same time Motorola and Acer are releasing devices that use it. This is prompting concerns over favouritism and undue market influence.

Companies affected by the new tighter regime include LG, Samsung, Toshiba and Facebook, and there have been complaints to the U.S. Justice Department, BusinessWeek said, citing an unnamed source. Similarly, Google has been giving different chipmakers a head start in bringing up different iterations of the Android OS, the BusinessWeek article reported executives as saying.

If Google attempts to define a standard hardware platform as well as limit software freedoms, the move could hurt Intel Corp., which is attempting to move into the mobile device space with its processors.

Android already runs on ARM architecture processors in the vast majority of cases as ARM is the dominant smartphone architecture. However, as the OS, middleware and applications stack is supposedly open-source and based on a modified Linux kernel and the Java language, it is in theory applicable to any processor including Intel's Atom processor.

- Peter Clarke
  EE Times

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