The source code of Android on the Galaxy Nexus deemed “trade secret” by Google

by: Mike AndriciMay 1, 2012
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I’m sure that most of our readers already know that Apple and Google are (and will continue to be for a while) involved in a number of lawsuits pertaining to various patents that one company or the other is supposedly breaking. What many might not know is that, in a number of cases, Apple has requested to learn information about Google’s services and software just so they can sue the search giant for supposedly breaking other patents after analyzing the data.

The latest of these requests, made by Apple as part of the motion for preliminary injunction against the latest Google smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, is by far the most interesting of them all. Apple has requested to learn the differences — if any — between the open source Android code available at and the source code for the Android version on the Galaxy Nexus. Even more interesting was Google’s reason for not being able to share that information: “Although Google releases some versions of Android through the Android Open Source Project, the internal functionality of Android running on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is Google’s trade secret.”

Google lawyers made it clear that this is the same way that the iPhone source code was treated in a previous iPhone antitrust case (quoting the official ruling: “because the iPhone source code is a trade secret, plaintiffs have the burden to establish that it is both relevant and necessary.”). But to some, Google’s answer has revealed a bit more about the relatively open nature of the Android OS.

The OS should be the same with all Android smartphones, right? Wrong, as it seems that Samsung has received a secret version of Android to use on the Galaxy Nexus. Just imagine how far Google could go down this path with the biggest company they’ve every acquired, Motorola. It looks like the dissatisfaction of some Android manufacturers regarding the Google-Motorola merger is based on solid facts, and not just a product of their paranoid business heads.

What is your take on this? Is Google holding back major improvements in the OS for implementation on their Nexus smartphones? Or is a legal move without any real-world implications? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!

  • AndyH

    they’re beating apple with their own stick.

    long may it continue

  • tBs_Battousai

    I think this is just for legal reasons, I doubt it’s really any different from any other ICS device out there…

  • ChaosKiller

    Well I don’t think it’s specific stuff in the galaxy nexus, I think it’s the source of the google play store etc.

  • AppleFUD

    I agree with the other comments here. I doubt there is much difference in the versions of Android released and kept as trade secret, more to do with f’in with apple than anything and most of the “trade secret” part would have to do with Google service integration which is NOT part of the open-sourced code and never has been and never will be as that’s the only stick Google has to keep OEMs in line.

  • ฺBoonlumsion Piyapon

    Well every company have there own “custom ui” and “rom that custom for there phone” that is not open-source and is trade secret.

    I don’t see any good reason any android manufacturers dissatisfaction. and prefer pay windows phone os over free android

    • gbgamer

      Please note that the ROMs for most phones are open , except for the drivers. Look at the galaxy s2 source.

  • DufusUR

    I doubt it, I think they are just making Apple spend more money on lawyers as they seek to establish their burden of proof for access to that information. Google is essentially paying Apple back in kind for their “iPhone is trade secret” crap. It’s a game of making Apple spend more money on litigation to bring them to the negotiating table, the same way Samsung has done.

  • Shane_burgess

    agreed with most of comments below, its googles 2 finger salute to apple lawyers, if you want what we have got so that you can use it against us, your gonna have to spen spend spend and justify it, its the burden of proof card being sent back to apple,
    as for the versions being different for the nexus phones etc, ports of nexus software are available for other phones, and I’m sure if google were giving a preferential/different version out the guys and gals at XDA forums would have noticed and reported on it.

    hopefully come 21st of may an agreement to end the futile hostility will come and we can all enjoy non litigated products with money spent on research instead of lawyers!

    p.s hopefully the new sammy galaxy will be a great handset that will take the fight to the iPhone 5 on the basis of the phones not the lawyers

  • Nativeland075

    Yep I doubt there s another secret OS that Google’s hold up for a particular manufacturer. That would go against the Open source license it is under. Plus, it ll have to create another OS that is millions of lines of source code again. Why Google would want to invest time and energy and money into something it already had. Maybe but I doubt.