Google Weighs in on Acer China Phone Debacle, But is Google Being Anti-Competitive?

After a couple of days of silence from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG - News), which looked to have been implicated in the cancelled launch of an Acer phone in China, the search engine has finally released a statement. The phone was to be the Acer CloudMobileA800 running the Aliyun OS, a year-old mobile platform created by Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce company.

[ UPDATE: Scroll to bottom for remarks direct from Android man Andy Rubin].

Referencing its phone-maker partner, Google told the WSJ (paywall) earlier:

[Acer has] committed to building one Android platform and to not ship non-compatible Android devices. […] 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.

So the assertion here is that Aliyun is a “non-compatible” version of Android; but Alibaba insists that it’s built from the ground up, based on Linux, and can run Android apps only by running them virtually and non-natively (a bit like in BlackBerry’s Playbook). Aliyun’s focus is on web apps. In reaction to Google’s words, Alibaba’s VP of international corporate affairs, John Spelich, said:

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.

Talking to TiA, John expanded on the ecosystem theme:

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.

Previously, Google had told us that it couldn’t comment, while Acer emitted only a very vague apology a day after the last-minute cancellation of the dual Acer-Aliyun launch event in Shanghai. The Acer A800 was to have been the flagship phone for the Aliyun OS, and the first from a big-name hardware brand. Its two other phones are built by local partners K-Touch and Haier.

Anti-competitive?

So, what’s going on here? Google’s words sound even more odd when you think of phone-makers who do actually make what seem to be “non-compatible” Android devices and also regular Android phones - such as we’ve seen with Lenovo’s OPhone, which was a closed-source fork of Android made for China Mobile (but which never really took off as a separate platform). But Lenovo still gets free reign to do that. Perhaps Acer has a different kind of agreement/relationship with Google.

From Google’s words, which seem to have been buried late night Friday in the US (and behind the WSJ's paywall), we might extrapolate that Google did put pressure on Acer [1] to pull out of the launch. Also, the US giant’s compatibility assertion doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, since Aliyun OS being Linux-based does not make it part of the Android ecosystem. Or perhaps the fact that Aliyun can run some Android apps is the actual - but unstated - core of the objection. But software virtualization isn’t illegal. Either way, Google’s argument looks weak.

[ UPDATE: Adding Andy Rubin quote]: Android head honcho Andy Rubin has weighed in directly on his G+ page (via The Verge) and apparently takes a dim view (as I suggested above) of the way Aliyun runs Android apps:

We were surprised to read Alibaba Group's chief strategy officer Zeng Ming's quote "We want to be the Android of China" when in fact the Aliyun OS incorporates the Android runtime and was apparently derived from Android. Based on our analysis of the apps available at http://apps.aliyun.com, the platform tries to, but does not succeed in being compatible. It's easy to be Android compatible, the OHA supplies all the tools and details on how to do it.

  1. Allegedly.  ↩

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects
    Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects

    The Philippines and Japan have signed agreements for six official development assistance (ODA) projects amounting to 22.289 billion yen or around P9.6 billion. …

  • Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms
    Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms

    The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) will release a glossary of meteorological terms in Filipino to help the Filipino people better understand weather forecasts and instill disaster awareness among them. National Artist for Literature and KWF president Virgilio Almario said yesterday the KWF produced the glossary titled Patnubay sa Weder Forkast to simplify scientific terms used in the weather bulletins of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration …

  • Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP
    Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP

    Contrary to what romance novel writers would want their readers to believe, there are no perfect marriages in the real world. This was according to Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. In a statement titled “CBCP Position Against the Divorce Bill and Against the Decriminalization of Adultery and Concubinage,” Villegas said that while it is not easy to make relationships last, learning how to work out differences – and …

  • DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa
    DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa

    The defense department is holding off repairs and other planned infrastructure projects on Pag-Asa Island, one of seven islets and two reefs occupied by Filipino troops in the disputed Spratly Islands. Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed out that the maintenance and repair of facilities in Pag-Asa Island are not covered by the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of parties involved in the West Philippine Sea territorial disputes. “Repair and maintenance is okay but before …

  • Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns
    Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns

    An 11-hour power outage will hit five towns in Aurora on Tuesday, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) announced yesterday. The NGCP said Baler, Dingalan, San Luis, Ma. Aurora and Dipaculao would be affected by the blackout. The NGCP said parts of Nueva Ecija and Aurora were hit by a power interruption yesterday due to the tripping of the Cabanatuan-Baler 69kV line. …

  • Rules set for climate change programs
    Rules set for climate change programs

    The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) have released the revised guidelines to track and monitor climate change adaptation programs of the government. “The government of the Philippines has demonstrated leadership and strong commitment in implementing a comprehensive reform agenda to respond to climate change,” read the joint memorandum circular published in The STAR yesterday. “With the goal of using the budget process to plan, prioritize and …

  • It’s time to move on– Speaker
    It’s time to move on– Speaker

    The nation can now move on as President Aquino has satisfactorily explained his side on the Mamasapano incident for which he even begged for understanding, lawmakers led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday. “It’s time to move on,” Belmonte said in reaction to Aquino’s pronouncements made before new police graduates at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) last Thursday. The President has spoken far too much about what he knows and about his limited involvement in the …

  • ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February
    ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February

    Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) sustains its strong sales in its February performance. Toyota’s strong performance last month was due to the  high demand of the Vios, with sales of 2,012 units and of course the rest of Toyota’s line up such as the Fortuner, Innova, Wigo, Hilux, Avanza and Corolla Altis. Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, recorded 60 units last month. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options