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Dell and Baidu Introduce a Smartphone With Forked Version of Android 146

Posted by timothy
from the primordial-soup-software dept.
cortex writes "XDA developers is reporting on the release of a new smart phone which runs a forked version of Google's Android operating system: 'Dell and Baidu, the Chinese search giant with over 80% marketshare in its home-country, unveiled the Streak Pro on Tuesday (via Computerworld). The device has a 4.3 AMOLED screen with 960×540 resolution and packs a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor. Most notably, however, is the operating system it runs: a forked Android version dubbed Baidu Yi, which replaces Google's services with those of Baidu.' How will this impact Google's support for Android and open source in general?'
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Dell and Baidu Introduce a Smartphone With Forked Version of Android

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  • by sethstorm (512897) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:17AM (#38479824) Homepage

    Perhaps they want something onboard that makes Carrier IQ look tame.

    Search for or have anything deemed subversive on the device, it reports you silently.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Seriously, I'm tired of these stupid comments towards China. Especially when US government is much worse. Have you lived there or actually know it? Because it isn't like that. I have my own experience. Sure, do keep up with the "China == bad" bullshit, but you're only lying to yourself. Just like with communism == bad during cold war. It's bullshit without real experience.
      • by adriantam (566025) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:46AM (#38479912) Homepage
        I agree with you that "China == bad" is not always true. But how do you explain the 80% market share of Baidu? In China, you can't do big business without kowtow to the government. That's a reason for that bullshit to exists. And that's a way to get rid of those bullshit: lift your hands off the people and let them have the freedom. By the way, I am Chinese.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Your figures may be a little out of date - Baidu's current market share in China is 60.67%.

          Source: http://gs.statcounter.com/#search_engine-CN-monthly-201011-201111

        • Baidu is awful (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 24, 2011 @03:03AM (#38480182)

          Baidu is absolutely laden with spam. The English searches are a little better, those come from Bing rather than Baidu's own engine, no great but passable.

          But when I was in Shanghai I used Baidu almost exclusively, because they keep blocking Google. Sometimes Google works, sometimes it doesn't, sometimes it works but is so ridiculously slow that it's unusable. I know this is not Google making, but the Chinese tricks. However I still need to find things.

          It's not a political thing I think, a lot of it is just corruption. It's not that the guy running the routers is such a communist puritan that he favors Baidu comrades, it's that he's such a corrupt person, ten bucks in his pocket and he'll route you through a Pentium 4 firewall! Baidu just know who to pay off.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Patch86 (1465427)

          But how do you explain the 80% market share of Baidu?

          The same way you can explain Google's 80% market share in the US?
          http://gs.statcounter.com/#search_engine-US-monthly-201011-201111 [statcounter.com]

          That is to say, that they're popular because they deliver what people are after?

        • by mynickslongerthanurs (1322243) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @06:19AM (#38480766)

          But how do you explain the 80% market share of Baidu?

          Because its major competitor is suffering from blatant malicious QoS deterioration?

          • Every 15 minutes, any attempt to access google is met with a reset. The blocking lasts 15 minutes, causing an artificial 50% downtime for ALL Google services.
          • When the service is accessible, searching for a potentially 'inharmonious' word (including seemly innocuous false positives like 'carrot') resets the connection immediately and deny future access to Google for 5 minutes.
          • Don't even THINK about using Google Search over SSL.
          • G+ doesn't work. Well, neither does Facebook.
          • Blog service (blogspot/blogger) doesn't work. In fact, searching for the word 'blogspot' resets the connection.
          • Video service (Youtube) obviously doesn't work.
          • No site managed by Google Sites works.

          Oh, and I'm a native.

        • But how do you explain the 80% market share of Baidu?

          I cannot comment on the claims about malicious Google blocks, but it would be naive to ignore their different stance towards IP and therefore their higher perceived quality when searching for / downloading MP3 files etc. ... (e.g. Baidu 500 [wikipedia.org]). Many "westerners" will consider this bad, but it is a form of liberty ...

        • No one else offers what Baidu does in one package specifically tailored to (mainland) Chinese people, especially good working pinyin input. Even in Canada Baidu is used extensively by the Chinese community due to ease of use.

        • In Soviet China, the government controls the businesses!

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:54AM (#38479934)
        I can't tell if you're trolling or really that poorly informed. For all my complaints about how we do things, your suggestion that the situation in the US is worse than China is patently absurd.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_the_People's_Republic_of_China [wikipedia.org]
      • by Anonymous Coward

        How many meetings of Chinese people for a free Tibet or independent Taiwan clubs are you allowed to go to? Why is the Chinese internet so censored?

        remember to post something about Guantanamo your question dodging response!

      • by retchdog (1319261)

        hello, 50 cent army [wikipedia.org], and welcome to slashdot! i hope you have a terrible time!

        • I think that USA and China are part of the same system, else the first would have retained control of its economy instead of basically helping out the second. Both morally bankrupt like ummm all the rest of the worldwide system (I'm not talking about the NWO I am talking about the de-facto situation, in morally sound systems trials elections patents and thousands other things would be less dependent on how powerful the players are).

          Anyway, it's true, in a lot of forums and discussions China is readily defen

      • how 'different' it is.

      • by ncgnu08 (1307339)

        I completely agree. Communist Russia was proven right when the US collapsed in the late 80's... oh no wait....

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I have lived there and I know that the internet is censored severly, that they try to track my identity all the way and I also know what happend to my friends.
        One friend of mine broke up with her bf who works for the Chinese gov and moved to another city. Unfortunately, he tracked her mobile phone and found her and could track her on the streets over the camera system. I've also been tracked by the government once for another reason (and in that case it actually benefited me, but it was still scary), so it

      • Ive been there, its not bull. They monitor literally every cell conversation, every webpage. The great firewall is no joke. They even redirect www.skype.com to a customized version that reports everything you do to big brother.

        Believe me, I know people who are on a VPN 24/7 because of the government's shenanigans, and they even screw with the VPN to make it lossy and bad.

  • Not at all (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:18AM (#38479834)

    There's already some Android phone out that uses Bing as the search engine. And then of course there is Amazon who essentially is forking Android.

    Google had to know this would happen, they simply don't care. If they keep advancing Android it keeps Android devices more desirable than others in theory. Plus at this point what would the strategy really be? Close Android off and watch vendors run to Microsoft?

    • I think the "interest" angle here is that it's a Dell branded device, rather than a Chinese brand name. (Built in China though, for sure). It's moderately interesting more in the implication of what this might do with Google's relationship to Dell, if Dell has any intention of competing in the US market at all any more.
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        probably won't affect dell's relations with google at all.

        it's china customization of android.

        think about it - it's pretty hard for google to justify acting all nasty just because you're making a version for a market on which the customers wouldn't be able to use the google services anyhow......

    • Re:Not at all (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:53AM (#38480142)

      Depends on how you define forks. Amazon has to my knowledge not "Forked" Android. To do so would be to take Android and do in house development in a different direction. From what I can tell they have simply taken Android as is and put their modifications on top of it. Amongst them removed the Google Apps, and added their own primary interface and own apps.

      Most phone manufacturers do this already just not on the same big scale. Samsung ship phones with TouchWiz, a Samsung specific home screen and app drawer for their phones which is more like iOS than Android, as well as the Samsung Marketplace. The difference is that they still have Google's partnership and ship the phone with the complete set of Google Apps and the official Market.

      When you fork a project you take the project at a given time in a new direction, and the codebase typically starts separating more and more from the original. Customising Android, regardless of how heavily you do it does not make it a fork until you essentially take over a whole new project.

      • Technically, their intent was to fork it. The Chinese government was adamant about not wanting any secret US back-doors in it.

        My guess is that they probably did it just like our US Department of Defense. They probably froze it to an older version to try to secure that at least, and then when they finally could deliver something to their bosses, they got yelled at for delivering a version so old, that Google had already published at least half-a-dozen new major versions in the mean time.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        in regards to amazon, their 2.3.4 derived version would be defined as a fork by most people. there's just so much changed - the customizations in fire are much wider in scale than just throwing their own launcher on it. in fact it's the most customized android device I've yet to see which still resembles android in some fashion and which can install and run vanilla androids applications. for example, there's no hw buttons. there's a home/menu/search bar instead of that, that's a major customization - and it

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          Yes I guess time will tell if this is a fork or a glorified distro.

          Also the no buttons thing is more of an in vogue customisation rather than something drastically different. The Galaxy Nexus also has no hw buttons.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Android is not being forked, not on those and not on this article.

      "Most notably, however, is the operating system it runs: a forked Android version dubbed Baidu Yi, which replaces Google's services with those of Baidu.' How will this impact Google's support for Android and open source in general?'"

      Gapps (Google Applications) do not belong to Android, they are separated applications from Google.

      Android source code is available from source.android.com and that is the Android. Gapps are not avalable from there

    • I think it's interesting in that Google's role is being taken over by their Chinese competitor. It's not just a phone vendor making Bing the search engine, it sounds like it's going to be marketed as a Baidu phone. Bing isn't selling Bing-branded phones that search Bing.
  • Google will do nothing to change their stance, but they will work to better integrate in to Android and make it so people want them not Baidu.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      Google is really bad in Russia and China. Most people use Yandex or Baidu because it gives much better results. Google simply fails to give good results there. Google has ignored that market, and it will eventually bite them in the ass.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:32AM (#38479884)

        Google didn't "ignore" the chinese market, they pulled out for ethical reasons (present chinese government wanted them to censor).

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          That was only last year. They had a minor market share to begin with, so gaining good publicity by "pulling out of china" was only good for marketing purposes. They weren't profitable there to begin with. Google has a good marketing team tho - instead of announcing that they failed to profit in Chinese market, they turned it upside down and told they're getting off for ethical reasons to make it look less failure.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:14AM (#38480006)

            Google had a significant portion of the Chinese market before pulling out - over 35% [nasdaq.com]. And even with the current situation where they have much less marketshare, they're profitable [engadget.com]. So basically you're full of shit.

            Google had been against censorship all along, but decided to try and change China from the inside. Eventually, they discovered that it wasn't possible, so they stuck up for their principles and took their ball and went home. It's rare that you see a company put principle ahead of profit, and they should be commended for it.

          • Oh look, it's the Anti-US troll once again!

            Hi troll!

        • by zerojoker (812874)
          That's because they are competing on an unfair market. The Chinese government is highly corrupt and is trying to support chinese companys where they can. They do not only block youtube, twitter, google and the like for political reasons, but also to support domestic companies. If you cannot reach youtube due to the firewall, of course you will change to a chinese alternative. Same goes for twitter, google, and all the other google services...
      • by triceice (1046486)

        Hard to give "good results" when your indexing is limited by the "Great Wall". But yes I agree with you.

      • by identity0 (77976)

        Interesting. Does that hold true for Taiwan as well? How well do they do in overseas Chinese communities,?

      • Google is actually very decent for Russian. Yandex is marginally better, but, frankly, more people use it out of habit, not because it's some conscious choice.

    • Google will do nothing to change their stance, but they will work to better integrate in to Android and make it so people want them not Baidu.

      In what way is that not changing their stance? So lets get started with our reasonable demands: first thing is, not being able to drag a running app to the trash or equivalent is pure brain damage. Let's see Google climb down off the patronizing justifications for this design flaw [custhelp.com] and fix it.

  • by Dancing Propeller He (632229) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:39AM (#38479900)
    This is great for the Android hardware ecosystem. Android hardware can then become the commodity computer of the future. The PC model of real hardware and software choices needs to move into the phone/tablet market as well. Otherwise we will simply be just the iJailed users of these devices.
    • by crhylove (205956)

      This. And of course the many great improvements on Android that already exist in the wild, like cyanogenmod. I probably will never buy another phone not capable of running cyanogenmod.

    • by mikael (484)

      Mobile phones and tablets are "systems-on-a-chip" - all the hardware is in one ASIC chip. This avoids the overhead of multiple ASIC packaging, sockets, multi-layer track, motherboard interconnections, smoothing capacitors, resistors and other glue components, as well as the potential to have multiple hardware combinations. That saves on memory space for drivers.

      For a PC 75% of the components on the motherboard are for just for interconnection purposes. Compare the size of the actual silicon for the CPU and

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is great for the Android hardware ecosystem. Android hardware can then become the commodity computer of the future. The PC model of real hardware and software choices needs to move into the phone/tablet market as well. Otherwise we will simply be just the iJailed users of these devices.

      Problem is, that Android doesn't offer anywhere near the compatibility across hardware and software as Wintel do. The platform is too fragmented.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @01:46AM (#38479916)
    They would not be the first Android phone to not use Googles services, hell Motorola replaced the Google services with Yahoo on some of their phones. That does not mean that it is a code fork. So what specifically is different about the OS, other then the non-Google bundled apps?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The name?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nothing, Linux is still used as OS in that Android version and Android itself is still same. Difference is just that Baidu and Dell has swapped official Google apps (gapps) to own ones. They are non-Android parts.

      Article writer does not have a clue what Android is.

      That article is now a mission to make Android look bad and get a later valid argument to say that Android has scattered to multiple versions what are incompatible to each other.

  • Impact? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NoMaster (142776) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @02:37AM (#38480096) Homepage Journal

    "How will this impact Google's support for Android and open source in general?"

    Not at all, or possibly for the better?

    If they didn't want people to fork Android (and, as noted above, it's debatable if this is really a fork or just replacing bundled apps / settings), they shouldn't have open sourced it.

    If they get pissy and decide to close it off due to forks/mods like this, then we're still left with the previous versions of Android - and we're better off without a developer that wants to take their bat and ball and go home at the first little upset.

    • Re:Impact? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @04:00AM (#38480320)

      "How will this impact Google's support for Android and open source in general?"

      Not at all, or possibly for the better?

      Definitely for the better. Truth be told, Google's attitude towards free software sucks in major ways, not least their overt campaign to undermine the GPL and copyleft in general. Yes, this is overt, and shameless. There is one loose cannon in particular whose name I will not mention whose personal vendetta includes not only the entire GPL ecosystem, but Debian too. Might as well have a serial puppy shooter on staff.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Not all os us who love open source software love GPL... I don't mind the puppy shooter.

        As a programmer, I open source a lot of what I do (a decision I usually make after I have working code), but I don't touch anything GPL, because that's taking away my freedom to decide my license, and therefore what I can do with my code. Sometimes if I can't did what I want as non-GPL source, I write it from scratch. But since I usually open source it, I guess everyone wins. Users then have two open source options, an

      • There is one loose cannon in particular whose name I will not mention whose personal vendetta includes not only the entire GPL ecosystem, but Debian too.

        Could someone name and shame here? I'm not saying this is untrue; maybe the parent has a real reason not to name; but strong statements require evidence. Google continually claims to be supporting and helping Linux.

        This is a pretty serious accusation against a company which would have been priced out of the market if it hadn't had Linux and wouldn't have had Linux (or for that matter BSD) if the GNU project hadn't provided a shelter for FOSS during the bad days around the BSD lawsuit. Google, IMHO woul

      • by Anonymous Coward

        GPL != the only open source.

        Open source includes BSD which allows companies to do whatever they want with it including keeping their source closed afterwards. Google uses the Apache license (for their framework on top of the Linux kernel) which is open source but is closer aligned with BSD then it is GPL. You can't say it's not open sourced when the very license it uses is considered open source by pretty much everyone. What you want is something else, freedom for users rather then freedom for developers. B

  • Oh, that's not what you meant?
  • Given the amount of care that has gone into Google's search results recently, I don't think Google will care.

  • by sociocapitalist (2471722) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @04:07AM (#38480354)

    Follows the pattern that Baidu appears to have adopted in duplicating what Google does. Typical copy, change the picture and the name, and paste.

    Given the history, Google should have left the software open source elsewhere and kept it proprietary in China.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    200+ versions. Some have inittab. Some BSD-rc. Some with faster startup. Some with Gnome 3, others with Gnome 2 or KDE.

    If consumers can select to go to the Android apps store and spend $ to buy someone's App and it works - Meh.

  • In spite of the "open" nature of Android, I truly wonder if open = superior customer experience?

    Likewise, I am not convinced "free" = best for the consumer as that is only one small part of the consumer cost and experience.

    A smartphone today is a special device, not a thermostat or light switch.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I get to compare Android to it's competitors on a daily base. In my experience the closed OS bring a nice featureset to the table, but when it comes to customizing the phone to your needs nothing compares to Android. Even if you personally lack the skills or resources to mod or code, there are lively communities that are open to suggestion and pick up good ideas and are very likely to implement them in their "homebrew" versions.

      But it's the small things that can make a huge difference in user experience. No

  • Yes ... their is the Android OS as well as Google apps, which are amongst the most popular.
    Google have managed to opensource the OS, but stay in relative control considering the full experience requires the Google apps.
    • by jscotta44 (881299)

      Wow. The "full experience" requires the use of Google apps? So much for open source and choice.

      Yes, if you have the technical ability that /.'era are supposed to have, then you can root your phone, fork your own version of Android, yada, yada, yada. But Google would go broke if the only people using Android phones are /.'ers. So as more organizations move to fork Android for their own purposes, it will be interesting to see just how long it takes before Google pulls out of supporting it.

  • Who needs them? Lets fragment everything to the point nothing is inoperable and once you choose a vendor you are truly locked into their infrastructure.

    I say boycott it.

  • anybody that is running my data through a net that is owned by the chinese gov (and it is), is insane.
  • by yelvington (8169) on Saturday December 24, 2011 @06:43PM (#38485430) Homepage

    From http://source.android.com/faqs.html#what-kind-of-open-source-project-is-android [android.com]

    Why did we open the Android source code?

    Google started the Android project in response to our own experiences launching mobile apps. We wanted to make sure that there would always be an open platform available for carriers, OEMs, and developers to use to make their innovative ideas a reality. We also wanted to make sure that there was no central point of failure, so that no single industry player could restrict or control the innovations of any other. The single most important goal of the Android Open-Source Project (AOSP) is to make sure that the open-source Android software is implemented as widely and compatibly as possible, to everyone's benefit.

    "No central point of failure, so that no single industry player could could restrict or control the innovations of any other."

    Seems pretty clear.

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