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17 September 2012, 16:12

Google prevents Acer from distributing phones with Aliyun OS

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Last week, Google reportedly prevented the introduction of the Cloud-Smart Phone W700 from Acer in China. It is now becoming apparent why Google pressured Acer to not release the smartphone: the device is using AliyunChinese language link, an operating system created by the Chinese online marketplace company Alibaba. According to Google, Aliyun uses parts of Android but does not comply with Android's compatibility requirements. As a reaction, Google apparently threatened to terminate Acer's Android licence if the company shipped a phone including Aliyun OS.

As a member of the Open Handset Alliance, Acer has agreed not to support or develop Android-derivatives that are incompatible with the original open source Android version from Google. Alibaba has previously stated that, while being fully compatible with Android applications, Aliyun is not based on Android but on its own implementation which merely uses a Linux kernel. The company says that the OS uses a "self-developed distributed file system and virtual machine".

According to a Google+ post by Andy Rubin, Google's head of Android development, Aliyun "tries to, but does not succeed in being compatible." In another Google+ post, Rubin alleges that, despite Alibaba's statements, Aliyun does indeed incorporate the Android runtime and the platform's framework and tools. Rubin also claims that the Aliyun application store includes pirated Google applications. The Android Police blog has corroborated this claim, listing several other pirated applications that can be found in the Aliyun app store. This store can only be accessed with phones that use SIM cards from several Chinese carriers.

Android is being distributed under the Apache 2.0 Licence with the Linux kernel and associated patches being distributed under the GPLv2. Several manufacturers, including Amazon, are selling devices that are not completely compatible with every aspect of Android, which is well within the scope of these licences. Because of this, Google has not complained that Alibaba is breaking the Android licence. Google is seemingly pressuring Acer purely on the grounds of the company being a member of the Open Hardware Alliance. Since Amazon and Alibaba aren't members of the Alliance and comply with the software's licences, Google cannot compel them to cease distribution.

Rubin appealed to the developers to follow the Open Handset Alliance's rules. "It's easy to be Android compatible, the OHA supplies all the tools and details on how to do it", he said.


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