Google Is Clamping Down On The Android Open Source Project -- Here's Why

Google may have just opened up Chromecast for app development, but as far as Google’s signature platform Android goes, BI Intelligence finds that Google is moving in a very different direction.

Android is by far the biggest smartphone platform across the globe, thanks in large part to its decision to start the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) in 2007. Back then, with zero mobile market share, Google packaged mobile services like Search, Gmail, and Maps into an open-source platform that third-party vendors and developers could fork to run on their mobile devices. Originally, AOSP was a defence tactic against an Apple mobile monopoly.

Now, AOSP is expanding beyond Google’s control. Here’s a look at the underlying data from BI Intelligence:

The proliferation of these forked AOSP Android devices on the mainstream market is harmful to Google’s proprietary mobile services.

Right now, any developer or company can use AOSP to create an alternative Android operating system that cuts Google off from significant OS revenue. Amazon’s Kindle Fire ecosystem is a prominent example. The foundation OS is Android but Amazon developed its own app store, content store, Web browser, and email services, essentially cutting Google out of several of its key services and potential revenue streams.

Because of this, Google is attempting to pivot on its open-source ideals in order to protect its platform.

Back in October, Google took a crucial step in the fight against forks by locking down Google Play Services. Now, any apps developed using Google’s proprietary APIs will only work on non-forked versions of Google’s Android OS. Running apps developed with Google’s API on a Kindle, for example, is no longer possible.

Some may argue that the proliferation of AOSP operating systems, alongside Android, has helped Google fend off stronger competition from Apple. But for Google, a growing contingent of Android users not utilising Google services is almost as damaging as Apple grabbing a massive market share.

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Disclosure: Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is an investor in Business Insider.

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