LONDON – Google Inc. may be entering talks with ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) about a standardization of Android operating system for an ARM-based chipset, according to a Digitimes report that references unnamed sources at notebook computer makers.
Although Android is supposedly an open-source operating-system developed by Google and the Open Handset Alliance, there are reports that Google (Mountain View, Calif.) is insisting on a more disciplined – and some would say Microsoft-like – approach to the Android development in an attempt to resist fragmentation.
According to a BusinessWeek report Google is insisting on non-fragmentation clauses in contracts with developers. Companies that want early access to forthcoming iterations of Android now have to get approval for plans from Google. And there is concern that where developers wish to develop applications that could compete with Google functions, such as search and mapping, that approval could be withheld or delayed.
Google has said there are no plans to release version 3.0 of Android, known as Honeycomb, because the source code is not ready. But at the same time Motorola and Acer are releasing devices that use it. This is prompting concerns over favoritism and undue market influence.
Companies affected by the new tighter regime include LG, Samsung, Toshiba and Facebook and there have been complaints to the U.S. Justice Department, BusinessWeek said citing an unnamed source. Similarly Google has been giving different chip makers a head start in bringing up different iterations of the Android OS the BusinessWeek article reported executives as saying.
If Google attempts to define a standard hardware platform as well a limiting software freedoms, the move could hurt Intel which is attempting to move into mobile device space with its processors.
Android already runs on ARM architecture processors in the vast majority of cases as ARM is the dominant smartphone architecture. However, as the operating system, middleware and applications stack is supposedly open-source and based on a modified Linux kernel and the Java language it is in theory applicable to any processor including the Atom processor of Intel Corp.
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