|By Maureen O'Gara||
|September 18, 2012 07:30 AM EDT||
Lay you odds Acer’s Aliyun-based smartphone never makes it to the Chinese market as intended. Google seems to have seen to that.
Last week Acer indefinitely postponed the phone’s launch and its partner, the Chinese e-commerce maven, Alibaba, issued a statement saying Google had told Acer that it would “terminate its Android-related cooperation and other technology licensing” if it proceeded with the phone.
Android boss Andy Rubin says the cloud-based Aliyun operating system – that 1,600 Alibaba engineers supposedly spent three years developing – “incorporates the Android run-time and was apparently derived from Android.” Alibaba claims the thing is based on Linux (at a guess it’s talking about the Android Open Source Project) and uses its own “self-developed distributed file system and virtual machine.” Still it’s supposed to be “Android- compatible” and run Android applications including Google’s own apps.
Rubin retorts that “based on our analysis of the apps available at http:/ /apps.aliyun.com, the platform tries to, but does not succeed in being compatible.”
Acer does not have the clout of a non-OHA member like Amazon to spit in Google’s eye and base its widgets on an Android fork. More than 90% of Acer’s smartphones are powered by the classic Android as handed down by the Google-controlled Open Hardware Alliance (OHA) and even that 90% is hardly a blip on the Android screen, but Acer needs to diversify away from the PCs that aren’t selling.
Then too, Google buying Motorola Mobility probably didn’t increase Acer’s fidelity to OHA any and may have spurred its search for a differentiator.
Google finally got around to putting out a statement saying, “Compatibility is at the heart of the Android ecosystem and ensures a consistent experience for developers, manufacturers and consumers. Non-compatible versions of Android, like Aliyun, weaken the ecosystem. All members of the Open Handset Alliance have committed to building one Android platform and to not ship non-compatible Android devices. This does not however, keep OHA members from participating in competing ecosystems” such as Windows.
Ironic that Google should get bent out of shape by compatibility since it had no trouble making Android incompatible with classic Java as Oracle will gladly tell you at some length.
Apparently, however, Google was most upset by Alibaba wanting to be “the Android of China.”
John Spelich, Alibaba’s VP of international corporate affairs, also had a statement: “Aliyun OS is not part of the Android ecosystem so of course Aliyun OS is not and does not have to be compatible with Android. It is ironic that a company that talks freely about openness is espousing a closed ecosystem. This is like saying that because they own the Googleplex in Mountain View, therefore anyone who builds in Mountain View is part of the Googleplex. Will someone please ask Google to define Android?”
Rubin responded to Spelich directly:
“Hey John Spelich – We agree that the Aliyun OS is not part of the Android ecosystem and you’re under no requirement to be compatible.
“However, the fact is, Aliyun uses the Android run-time, framework and tools. And your app store contains Android apps (including pirated Google apps). So there’s really no disputing that Aliyun is based on the Android platform and takes advantage of all the hard work that’s gone into that platform by the OHA.
“So if you want to benefit from the Android ecosystem, then make the choice to be compatible. It’s easy, free, and we’ll even help you out. But if you don’t want to be compatible, then don’t expect help from OHA members that are all working to support and build a unified Android ecosystem.”
Perhaps Alibaba will sue Google for exclusionary anticompetitive behavior and abuse of market power since practically all handset makers, including those in China, belong to OHA.