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Cellphones Google Handhelds Open Source

The Shortcomings of Google's Open Handset Alliance 208

eldavojohn writes "Former T-Mobile and Apple executive Leslie Grandy reports some pretty harsh words about Google's Open Handset Alliance. We've heard grumblings before about control in open source projects, but now an unnamed former leader of an OHA member company is calling the OHA 'oligarchical,' and said, 'The power is concentrated with the Google employees who manage the open source project. The Open Handset Alliance is another myth. Since Google managed to attract sufficient industry interest in 2008, the OHA is simply a set of signatures with membership serving only as a VIP Club badge.' But what privileges do they have? Not many. The OHA's problems don't stop there; Grandy maintains that 'many OHA members are developing proprietary user experiences, which they are not contributing back into Android — as is standard for open source projects — for fear of losing competitive advantage in the marketplace.' She goes on to paint the OHA as toothless and directionless, with a nearly abandoned message board. It's been around for almost three years, and while Android has become more prevalent, the OHA's contributions seemingly have not. Do you agree that the OHA has amounted to nothing but a checkbox for manufacturers?"
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The Shortcomings of Google's Open Handset Alliance

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  • by WiiVault ( 1039946 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @03:52PM (#32076164)
    I love my work Droid- best work phone I've had, but fragmentation really is a problem with the Android eosystem. To show my point check out this site [appleinsider.com]. Now I realize this is an Apple-fansite, but the numbers quoted are from GOOGLE's Admob. One of the smart things Apple has done is make sure old HW is supported. An original EDGE iPhone for instance, runs the same version as the iPad or 3GS. Fragmentation not only affects the user experience, but it makes things a lot harder for developers too.
  • by Skuld-Chan ( 302449 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @03:52PM (#32076170)

    First Steve, now Leslie - OHA is still a hundred times better than anything Apple has come along with - at least for users.

    Also all the article does is spread FUD about Android.

  • by MadKatAlpha ( 1393157 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @03:53PM (#32076182) Homepage Journal
    Did anyone really expect the OHA to be a real collaborative effort? By getting the big names on the OHA list you bolster OEM and consumer confidence in Google's platform. It doesn't really matter if the members of the OHA have not made any meaningful contributions other than their names. The names were enough to get the product out and get people using it.
  • by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @03:55PM (#32076198) Homepage Journal
    I am not familiar with OHA at all, but doesn't it seem like someone who once worked as the CEO of two of Google's competitors might just be biased a little bit? I guess what I am asking is why should I take Grandy to be anything other than an astroturfing shill?
  • by tzenes ( 904307 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @03:55PM (#32076206)

    So Apple's main complaint against OHA is that its mostly proprietary?

    This is kind of like Steve Job's open letter about flash where he warns that Adobe could make it proprietary at any time.

    Meanwhile no apps can be accepted at the App Store if they even mention Google...

    Mr. Pot meat Mr. Kettle

  • Whiner (Score:3, Insightful)

    by buback ( 144189 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:00PM (#32076288)

    So google is doing all the contributing, but they have undue power over the direction of the platform?

    Shouldn't those that contribute have the most influence?

    If they want to take the OS in a different direction, why don't they just write the code themselves and fork?

    Oh, right. Because it's easier to whine and complain than to actually write good code.

  • by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:05PM (#32076330) Homepage

    many OHA members are developing proprietary user experiences, which they are not contributing back into Android

    So you are saying that every smartphone in the market will not have the exact same UI?

    Say it ain't so!

    Why does a teenager who is concerned with facebook and twitter have to necessarily want the same user experience as the corperate employee who is more worried about Outlook sync and calendering?

    Having a diverse platform ecology, while still maintaining a consistant underlying architecture to enable a vast application ecosystem, is the main strength of the Android platform (especially compared to the iPhone or Windows Mobile), it is not a weakness.

  • by AresTheImpaler ( 570208 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:17PM (#32076476)

    So Apple's main complaint against OHA is that its mostly proprietary?

    For the love of God, the first 5 words of the damn article say that she's not part of Apple anymore... "Former T-Mobile and Apple executive"

    This is kind of like Steve Job's open letter about flash where he warns that Adobe could make it proprietary at any time.

    Steve Job's never said anything like that. Please re-read the SJ letter. Although I disagree with the App Store being so closed, what you are saying is just completely false.

    Meanwhile no apps can be accepted at the App Store if they even mention Google...

    Agains, completly false, there are even 3 apps developed by google (not to mention a youtube client that is included with every iphone/ipad/ipod touch).
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/panoramio/id331007973?mt=8 [apple.com]
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-earth/id293622097?mt=8 [apple.com]
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-mobile-app/id284815942?mt=8 [apple.com]
    I understand that Apple hate is crazy high in Slashdot lately, but I'll say about 50% or more is all about blind fanaticism. Facts be damned.

  • Simple Question... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 16K Ram Pack ( 690082 ) <[tim.almond] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:17PM (#32076480) Homepage

    ... how many shares does she still own in Apple?

    That article reads like pure FUD to me.

  • by ducomputergeek ( 595742 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:18PM (#32076484)

    We're learned this the hard way. I know a lot of weekend coders who rant and rave Android because they can open eclipse do their thing, and go and be cool, but when you have to produce apps commercially and guarantee quality in contracts Android looks a lot less attractive compared to the iPhone. In the last two years we've spent about $3k in test hardware from Apple. We've spent twice that since last August on droid phones for testing. We're now quoting android development costs at 4x's that of the iPhone because of QA. With the iPhone, generally you test against the last two point releases of iPhone OS and make sure that nothing drags on the 2G iPhone. But generally if it works on one, it works on all.

    That is just simply not the case for android. You've got to test it against 1.5, 1.6, 2.0, 2.1 and on different hardware specs, different screen sizes (and some of our clients are anal about pixal perfect), and the fact that some have keyboards, others are touchscreens only and you have to ensure user experience is clean and effective for both types of users. Frankly it is starting to remind me of trying to develop applications for Linux 10 years ago when every distro would place their libraries in a different location for some reason or another. (Okay, not quite that bad, but bad enough).

    I have friends (husband and wife) who both got Driod phones for christmas. One has the motorola, the other HTC and sometimes they'll go to download and app and find one can download it, but the other can't because of differences in the phone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:23PM (#32076538)

    Except all the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad models do have a single feature they all share: a multi-touch display. There's no "sometimes a keyboard, sometimes a touch screen, sometimes a trackball, sometimes... etc." you get the idea.

    It becomes much easier to support a platform where the only differences are the speed, the screen resolutions and the connectivity of the devices.

  • by ircmaxell ( 1117387 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:24PM (#32076550) Homepage
    Yes, but Google has already committed to fixing those shortcomings in FroYo (at least that's the implied release timeframe). Basically, they are going to uncouple everything from the core OS they can, and provide updates through the market just like for apps. So then it would do dependency tracking. So even though your phone is using an older "core" OS, it can update many of its libraries and "core" applications without the need for a full ROM.

    There's really a fine line between the major player's stances on open source...:

    Apple: Proprietary and Open Source can live together! Just as long as the Open Source is in our interests!

    Google: Proprietary and Open Source can live together! Just as long as the Proprietary is in our interests!

    RIM: Proprietary is where the money is, so we don't really care about Open Source at all...

    Palm: I'm still here guys, don't forget about me!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:46PM (#32076848)

    i have written an OS in this area, and your comment reads like you wish i didn't say the things i say.

    a home pc with a requirement to enable old peripherals is far different than a single handset. you are right about one thing, though... it certainly was true 10 years ago.

    also, you're obviously dim enough to think that arguing "designed for windows 7" is the same as "windows 7 was designed for this hardware".


  • Shocking! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:50PM (#32076908)

    You mean supporting phones from four different makers costs more than supporting one?

  • by madddddddddd ( 1710534 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:11PM (#32077182)

    Go look at all the embedded devices that run some flavor of linux on some flavor of arm.

    ARM = hardware. we are talking SOFTWARE.

    and what differentiates those devices from each other? could they run better (execute faster, use less resources/battery) with a custom solution? ALWAYS. you can't deny that. if you're happy with shit, EAT UP. my palette is a little more discerning. i'm sick of you lazy engineers and your excuses.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:34PM (#32079328)

    Hi Steve, we heard you the first [slashdot.org] few times [slashdot.org]. Your recurring comment theme has been argued against already. Seriously, your history [slashdot.org] of Apple apologies and attacks at everything that remotely threatens the Apple ecosystem takes away from the credibility of your "experiences".

  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:26PM (#32079886)
    Wow, its amazing the PC industry hasn't collapsed under the weight of all this testing, I mean with so many versions of Windows, .net, DirectX, Java. I mean it's so fragmented. Then you have the hardware.

    All these problems have been solved on the PC, now they just need to make the transition to Android. How does MS, Adobe, Blizzard, ECT... ensure that their software works on multiple platforms. Beta testing, various other testing tools. You know that you can run any version of Android on a VM, it's in the SDK, simple applications can be tested in that fashion, only the complex applications have the issue you describe. Many of the applications I use on my Motorola Milestone have not been updated since the HTC Dream was the only game in town and they still work, some get updated on a near weekly basis.

    Android is new, we are waiting for the tools to catch up. Soon the costs chances of getting a random rejection from the Apple app store will be higher then developing for Android. Fortunately, most of the companies jumping into the mobile development space are simply doing it because it is the Latest Cool Thing(TM) and havent put too much thought into it, thus they wont survive.
  • by dudpixel ( 1429789 ) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @12:14AM (#32081506)

    oh go sob in the corner.

    I own a HTC magic and guess what, its still on Android 1.6 boo hoo. That means I supposedly should be having compatibility problems with apps from the android market right? or somehow this non-existent fragmentation issue should affect me...

    nope. I can run whatever app i choose on the Android market because those requiring a higher API level aren't shown.

    Does my phone still work? yep. It works just as good if not better than the day I bought it. Will it be upgraded to 2.1, who knows? But I've still got more apps available than I could ever need, most of these run flawlessly...

    If google suddenly pull all Android 1.5/1.6 apps from android market, then maybe you trolls have a point...but until then, Android 1.6 makes a perfectly fine OS for a phone that is now available free on the minimum plan on most carriers here.

    The number of android phones doesn't make a scrap of difference either. As a developer, you target the API level, not the device. If an app appears to work on some phones and not others, either your app has bugs or the phone does. not android. (android could have bugs but if this were the case your app would fail on ALL phones and wouldn't even work in the emulator)

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"