In a recent blog post on the official Android blog, Google is touting the importance of compatibility in the Android platform. Android is released under the Apache Open Source License, and its source is available at http://source.android.com. Google has spent a number of years nurturing Android, and bringing it to its present state. It has successfully created an ecosystem around Android, which has changed the mobile market, made it highly competitive. Today, we see smartphones with unmatched processing powers. A huge part of this growth can be attributed to Android, and Google has a right to be protective about Android.
However, as Alibaba thought of forking Android and build a business around it in collaboration with Acer, Google got possessive about Android and threatened Acer’s position in the Open Handset Alliance. This shows how Google dominates the Android ecosystem, and what seems to be an open source mobile OS, is clearly in the possession of Google. Both Alibaba and Google are making mistakes of their own here. Alibaba does not want to accept that its mobile OS is an Android fork, and Google wants Alibaba to join the Open Handset Alliance. However, Alibaba is probably forking an open source project without giving back, and Google is threatening Acer (Alibaba’s partner) to save the Android ecosystem, especially the Open Handset Alliance, which can take a blow from this move by Alibaba. It is hard to decide who is less wrong here.
In China, Alibaba is the equivalent of Amazon and its business is about to zoom past that of Amazon and eBay. Alibaba entered a partnership with Acer for an Android device, the CloudMobile A800. This device was supposed to be powered by Aliyum OS, a fork of Android. Aliyum was developed by AliCloud, a subsidiary of Alibaba. Although Alibaba claims that Aliyum is not related to Android, Google claims that it is indeed based on Android and it has been seen that Android apps run fine on Aliyum too. Aliyum already powers two smartphones in China. Clearly, Google has a reason to be worried but the outcome of that worry should not be an anti-competitive move like this.