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Google Starts Tightening its Control of the Android Platform

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Google is clamping down on how handset manufacturers modify the Android OS and is reported to be tightening its grip on what sorts of 3rd party deals the manufacturers might want to sign to put additional services on top of the Android platform.

According to a report by BusinessWeek, the company has told handset vendors that customised handsets will be denied access to the latest Android OS updates - which confirmed previous reports that tablets running on Android version 2 will be blocked from upgrading at a later date to the tablet optimised version 3 of the OS.

According to BusinessWeek, some of those affected by Google's tightening control of the Android platform include LG, Toshiba, Samsung, and even Facebook, which has often been rumoured to be trying to develop an Android device of its own.

Google recently said that it wouldn't release the source code for the latest version of the Honeycomb OS, claiming that it wasn't ready for release, but is making it available to selected tablet manufacturers. The move seems to be building towards a two-tier market with Google approved devices getting OS upgrades first and then the open-source version being released to everyone else a number of months later.

There have apparently been enough run-ins to trigger complaints with the Justice Dept., according to a person familiar with the matter. Google also gives chip and device makers that abide by its rules a head start in bringing Android products to market, according to the executives cited by BusinessWeek.

However, Google's business model for the Android OS is to drive traffic to its services that are often bundled within the smartphones, and earn revenues from advertising on those services. As more handset manufacturers and mobile networks deploy Android based handsets but sign deals with - for example - Vezizon's deal with Microsoft's Bing search engine, Google loses the chance to recoup its investment in the OS.

On the web: BusinessWeek

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Tags: google  android  honeycomb