How does Google control what services, software and hardware ships in Android handsets? The search giant has built an elaborate system of control points around Android handsets.
To dig deeper we spent two months talking to industry sources close to Android commercials – and the reality has been startling. From a high level, Google uses 8 control points to manage the make-up of Android handsets:
I love Android, yet I am also the webmaster of the Archos Fans community. Archos is basically so far still the only Android Tablet manufacturer in the world (although 50+ Android Tablets have been shown at trade shows, nearly none of those are yet available on the market). Thus Archos, this little French company with less than 100 engineers, has had an Android device on the market since September 2009 and yet NO legal official way for them to pre-install the Google Marketplace, Gmail, Gtalk on their devices. There are illegal ways to install Google Apps on the Archos tablets, even a very simple .apk to transfer to the tablet over USB that does all the necessary Google Apps installations pretty easily.
This whole unofficial Google Apps deal is absolutely not sustainable, it's like some kind of cyanogen thing. The mass market consumers that buy ipod touch and ipads would never accept to have to go through such unofficial channels to get some sort of "Google Experience" on their device. For the 50+ Android Tablets to be released to the worldwide markets these next few months, Google will have to unlock the Google Experience for more hardware configurations.
As the roadmap of Android is top secret, as Google geniuses prepare their Knock Out blows against Apple/Microsoft/Nokia/Intel, I think we as Android fanboys can also rather straight forwardly guess what that roadmap likely is going to be.
I see it a bit like some kind of trojan horse approach. Deep down I am sure Google does not want to do evil, but to reach the goal of providing sub-$100 Android devices that do all the VOIP, VOD, Credit Card and ID replacement, RFID, Augmented Reality, GPS, Social Networking and all that other stuff, Google first simply has got to play it nice with the largest Manufacturers and the largest telecom carriers.
I was at the Mobile World Congress recently at the Q&A with Eric Schmidt, you could hear really fun questions being asked by provocative telecom industry people, such as Google wanting to "Steal the telecom industry's voice minutes", that Google wants to "Transform the telecom industry into dumb pipes". Those transformations are for real, and I am sure the Google top strategists are aiming to reach those goals as soon as possible. But Google alone, even though they have the most and best PHDs cannot make the $100 unlocked Google Phone/Tablet/e-reader/set-top-box happen. So they have to work in certain levels of secrecy with the right big companies that need to have their investments recouped before Google opening up the next level of Android openness to the whole industry.