Tuesday 18 September 2012

Google accuses Alibaba of copying Android OS

Google has stopped Acer from using Alibaba's Aliyun OS for its phones, and threatens to stop Android support for Acer if it goes ahead with Aliyun.

Google has stopped Acer from using Aliyun operating system developed by Alibaba, a Chinese search giant. According to Google, Acer is bound by the open handset alliance agreement.
While Google says that it has no problems with anyone using Android source code and modifying it, the company only wants that the modified code be compatible with the Android ecosystem. According to Andy Rubin, Google's senior vice president of mobile and digital content, "We agree that Aliyun OS is not part of the Android ecosystem and you're under no requirement to be compatible."

However, Rubin adds, "Aliyun uses the Android runtime, framework and tools. And your app store contains Android apps (including pirated Google apps). So there's really no disputing that Aliyun is based on the Android platform and takes advantage of all the hard work that's gone into that platform by the OHA."

He goes on to say, "If you want to benefit from the Android ecosystem, then make the choice to be compatible. It's easy, free, and we'll even help you out. But if you don't want to be compatible, then don't expect help from OHA members that are all working to support and build a unified Android ecosystem."

According to ZDNet, Alibaba in its defense says that "Ours is built on open-source Linux." In addition, Aliyun runs "our own applications. It's designed to run cloud apps designed in our own ecosystem. It can run some but not all Android apps."

The main issue seems to be twofold: one, Google doesn't want incompatible versions of Android to flood the market, and in fact it is willing to help Alibaba in making Aliyun compatible, or at least that's what it claims. The second issue is the use of pirated Google apps on the Aliyun platform, on which Google is legally on stronger footing.

Some independent publication like Android Police has found and written, "Aliyun's app store appeared to be distributing Android apps scraped from the Play Store and other websites, not only downloadable to Aliyun devices as .apk files, but also provided by third parties not involved with the apps' or games' development. What's more, we've received independent confirmation from the original developers of some of these apps that they did not in fact give consent for their products to be distributed in Aliyun's app store."

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