Google closing up its open ecosystem according to Nokia’s Stephen Elop

by: Joe HindyJanuary 24, 2013

stephen elop
It’s no secret that one of the reasons that Android is doing so well is because of it being open source. Without being open source, developers and OEMs couldn’t help themselves to Android source code. The result would be far fewer Android devices and far fewer Android developers. If Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is to be believed, that may be happening soon.

Stephen Elop was speaking at a press conference recently regarding Nokia’s Q4 earnings. During the conference, he made some remarks about Google’s open ecosystem and how it’s beginning to close. His exact remarks were:

“The situation that Android is facing, where the amount of fragmentation that you’re seeing is increasing as people take it in different directions, is of course offset by Google’s efforts to turn an open ecosystem into something that’s quite a bit more closed as you’ve seen quite recently.”

So the question is, what is he referring to? There are some guesses as to what that might be. The Verge’s Aaron Souppouris guessed that he could be referring to Google dropping Exchange ActiveSync support in Google Apps free accounts. He also suggested that it had something to do with Google’s stoppage of Acer’s launch of the Aliyun.

So are these guesses right and is Stephen Elop right?

The Exchange ActiveSync removal part is accurate, but that’s Google Apps free accounts and not Android. Google really did drop that. However, Stephen Elop’s words may not be overly accurate. The closest Google has ever come to closing up their open ecosystem was Honeycomb. As it was an unfinished product, a case could be made that Google didn’t want to release source for an incomplete OS. Plus, they picked up where they left off with Ice Cream Sandwich. So no harm no foul, really.

The Aliyun incident, on the other hand, is probably wrong. This was a new operating system based on Android, which is a big no no for Google partners. It wouldn’t have taken much for Acer to look at the rule book and comply with it. The rule book states that any use of the Android SDK to further fragment Android is against the rules.

We hardly believe that Stephen Elop would make such a bold statement against Google based on just Exchange ActiveSync. So it’s possible that he was just poking at Google. Since Nokia chose to go with Windows Phone instead of Android, it could just be Stephen Elop helping his brand. What is everyone’s thoughts on it? Is he right or wrong?

  • MasterMuffin

    Maybe he means that Google is trying to drive people to buy Nexus devices by aggressively pushing their price down and advertising and making updates so often that only Nexus devices can be even near latest android? Just guessing, but that may hurt smaller companies (?)

    • Hahahe

      I don’t think so. The OS is still open. And besides, you can’t blame them for something that’s done through personal choice.

  • Dembow

    Based on HIS company earnings and having the Windows Phone hotdog in HIS mouth, I think NOKIA is the one that’s closed.. sore looser!

  • DeadSOL

    Nokia are going to shut down. They’re going to throw a few punches around before they go.

    • You mean the company with over 20% share of the phone market space?

      Android fans seem to drink a lot of Kool-aid.
      Google wanting to close it’s OS could be seen from a mile away. They NEED to do it in order to become profitable in the mobile marketplace.

      Only silly little fandroids are blind to this fact.

      • Peterson Silva

        “They NEED to do it in order to become profitable in the mobile marketplace.”

        Google has its hands on so many services, and it is so pervasive in people’s lives in so many different ways, that people tend to forget what they are all about. They are all about marketing and advertising. They _already are_ profitable – if they don’t make money directly from Android, that’s ok. They make up for it in advertisement. They’re thinking ahead, as much as they’d thought when they first started Android. They needed the market share and penetration, not money from devices, system licensing, etc.

        “what’s stopping Google from doing this in the future — forcing people to get apps through the Play store?”

        Nothing’s stopping them, but what’s stopping you from killing your neighbour with a knife then calling the police and telling them all about it?

        Nothing. But you won’t do that (I hope).

        Google’s been benefiting from its strategy with Google Play – or so it seems – and it doesn’t have to _enforce_ that kind of policy over marketplaces, as manufacturers will want to have access to Google Play – and as it grows bigger, starting an alternative from the ground up is just too much effort for it to be profitable. It’s just too much hassle; why do it? Just go with GPlay, the nice guy.

    • More like fist themselves to death!

    • gareth2w

      Right now they are the third most profitable smartphone company based on Q4 2012 results.
      That reflects more on how poorly everyone else apart from Apple and Samsung are doing, but they are at least doing better then all the rest so their strategy is good.

  • Wish Elop would make up his mind. A totally closed up system of Windows Phone is a good thing according to him. So good that he is betting the farm, the herd of cattle, and his grandma’s rocking chair on that closed up system.
    But his latest comment kind of implies that a moderate step by Google against Android fragmentation which makes Android a tiny bit more closed is somehow bad.
    Why does he feel a closed up Android is bad, but a closed up Windows Phone is good? This to me sounds like he is either totally double-minded, or, more probably, he is just grasping at any straw which he can, in the hope that it will plant some FUD.

  • I (loyal android user) agree with him (to the extent) Google need to close android from 95% open to around 60%. Why? So that Google can control android enough to “de-fragment it” they need to make a new policy saying to all OEM’s that “ALL your android devices should be updated to our latest OS within 2-3 months of a new release” That would be JUST enough to de-fragment android a whole lot. Along side that, they should also put in that policy a MINIMUM screen size for the device, say 4″ and they also should demand ALL driver info for the components in the phone/tablet. if Google do ALL of that, android will not be fragmented EVER again. Android will still remain open to the Users, and OEM’s but have a strict policy for the OEM’s

  • Joe: Exchange ActiveSync isn’t gone from Android. It was removed from Google Apps free accounts. Quite different.

    • JosephHindy

      I’ll fix that immediately, thanks Derek!

  • satsmine2k4

    Ok so per ELOP… Google should be offering Windows phone users FREE service(‘s’ like the contacts sync) and pay Microsoft royalties for those services at the same time…

  • Ian Blanco

    A failing company manufacturing a phone for a OS that’s going to fail makes people say crazy things, I guess…

    • albronz

      lol, that make sense :D

  • Looks like with that comment Nokia will not be carrying Android, the one OS that actually would have saved Nokia from doom. Why do you think HTC and Samsung and Motorola (the three biggest Windows device manufactures) moved AWAY from Windows? Because it didnt work out too well for them, and they all embraced Android and look how successful they have become. Motorola was bought by Google (never was bought by Microsoft), HTC became one of the best companies out there and while they have problems, they are still by far more successful than Nokia, and Samsung has become the biggest company of all smartphones. So…. Sorry Nokia, your move to Android has came and gone, and you missed opportunities. To say its a horrible system and betting everything on Windows is plain stupid. Microsoft WANTS you to go out of business, they want to pay nothing for you when they buy you out and try to rival Google/Android and Apple/iOS, so….

    • mimi

      good point there man. good point. no one has bring this reasoning before, afaik.

  • Suny

    Yes. Android is more closed that Windows phone.

  • This from Ballmer’s bitch. whose company only made a tiny profit from shedding many jobs, selling assets faster than a crack whore sells her baby, and a nice 50 million Euro payment from RIM. Can’t wait to see 2013 results, Elop you shithawk.

    I still like Nokia, but its best days are over, I also use a Lumia 7.8 device, and after a while it is so boring and childish in terms of overall design, though not as bad as Windows 8, also WP8 seems very buggy, at least on Lumia phones.

  • steve

    can’t remember last time i saw a nokia phone

  • Nokia is now a Microsoft puppet, it spreads now FUD as Redmond does.

  • On a Clear Day

    Stephen Elop has been paying attention to the master of sophistry – President Obama and sees how well it works for him and figures it can’t hurt his own flagging brand.

    Nokia used to be a big player and like Apple, when the going gets tough apparently all sense of propriety and fair play are shelved and anything goes.

    Fortunately, people aren’t nearly as dumb as he and they think we are, and ultimately the public will vote with their dollars and the votes won’t be flowing to those who play nasty and loosey goosey with the truth.

  • TaMama

    Maybe it’s because the source code for the Nexus 4 isn’t available right now…

  • I believe that Android is still much more open than wp/ios.

  • Nokia is a fine company. They make great and reliable phones, and many people recognize and admire the brand. Partnering with evil Microsoft, the corporate equivalent of Satan, is a bad move that tarnishes the Nokia brand. It’s not too late to switch to Android.