Google is leaving itself some wiggle room to eventually ban Facebook’s “Home” software from Android.
In an interview with Steve Levy at Wired, Android leader Sundar Pichai suggests that software like Home could be stripped from Android if it leads to a bad experience for users.
We’re going to include his full answer because it’s important to get the full context. He is waffling back and forth, but ultimately is sounds like he wouldn’t rule out blocking Home:
Some people worry that Google might respond to Facebook Home by blocking this kind of approach in a future release.
We want to be a very, very open platform, but we want a way by which end users are getting a good experience overall. We have to figure out a way to rationalize things, and do it so that it makes sense for users and developers. There’s always a balance there. It’s no different from the kind of decisions that Facebook has to make about its own platform. But right now, we don’t plan to make any changes — we are excited they’ve done good work.
Hold on. You’re saying that you like innovation like Home–but at some point in the future you might decide that an invasive software approach like this isn’t good for users and can’t be done in a future Android release?
No. Let me clarify. Users get to decide what apps and what choices they want. Some users really want this. We don’t want to get in the way of that. [But] in the end, we have to provide a consistent experience. As part of that, with every release of Android, we do go through changes. So we may make changes over time. But if this is what users want, I think Facebook will be able to do it. We want it to be possible for users to get what they want.
As you can see, he says, “I think Facebook will be able to do it,” and “but we want a way by which end users are getting a good experience overall.”
This quote from Pichai seems to confirm the cynical assumption is that if Facebook Home became a monster hit, Google would figure out a way justify blocking.
Luckily for Google, Home is a big flop. Not many people are using it, and its reviews are terrible.