AT&T apparently thinks it can make a smartphone operating system better than Google. A new report from The Information states AT&T is looking to make an Android device running a forked version of Android in partnership with ZTE and Cyanogen to weaken Google’s control over the market. Buckle up kids, cos things are about to get whacky.
Being disgruntled with Android’s stranglehold over the smartphone market is fair enough. The EU Commission has been attacking Google for antitrust violations for ages and some OEMs claim having to take the full suite of Google apps in order to include Google Play on a phone is unfair.
The fact that Android is given to OEMs for free should count for something, but sour grapes breed sour grapes. The poor carriers then worry that they don’t get to bloat the crap out of devices as much as they’d like to and have sweaty nightmares about all that lovely commercial partnership revenue they’re missing out on.
It’s no surprise that sooner or later someone would come up with the idea of forking Android, partnering with a carrier, building their own device and trying to squeeze Google out of the mix. If all of this is sounding familiar, that’s because AT&T has already tried to do the same thing with the Amazon Fire Phone. And we all remember how well that played out.
So if Amazon and Fire OS aren’t the vehicles with which to dismantle the Android edifice, what are? Well, Cyanogen has had it out for Google for a long time, famously claiming it would “put a bullet through Google’s head”. Cyanogen would surely be interested in building the little OS that could, and indeed it is.
But what about hardware? This new gunslinging harbinger of Google death is surely going to need a shiny beast on which to ride into town. Enter ZTE. Why ZTE you ask? Probably because the company has very little to lose but a lot to gain. Trade sanctions notwithstanding, ZTE is still able to sell its hardware in the U.S. at least.
This whole sleazy trifecta, as interesting as it sounds, is a mess. AT&T wants to assert more control over pre-loaded software and money-spinners like its DirecTV video subscription service. Cyanogen needs all the install-base it can get if it is to ever challenge Google on anything more than a comically outgunned playing field and ZTE, well, ZTE is probably just in it for the lulz.
The one thing these co-conspirators have all neglected to consider is what’s in it for us. You know, the people they actually expect to buy into this plan for world domination. What reason are we going to be given for a bloat-riddled ZTE phone running a tweaked version of Cyanogen? We have absolutely no idea, but we can’t wait to find out.
What are your thoughts on this plan?