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

January 24, 2013
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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?

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