Mon, Sep 17, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Google, Alibaba fight over system

ECO-UNFRIENDLY:The US giant said the Chinese firm was ‘weakening the Android ecosystem’ with its Aliyon platform that it said was a copy of Android

Staff writer, with CNA

A spat between Google Inc and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) continued yesterday when a Google executive again criticized the Chinese e-commerce giant for trying to launch a phone that had a “non-compatible” version of Google’s Android system.

In a post on his Google+ social network page yesterday, Andy Rubin, Google’s senior vice president of mobile and digital content, shot back at an Alibaba executive, saying: “If you want to benefit from the Android ecosystem, then make the choice to be compatible.”

The dispute was sparked when Taiwan-based Acer Inc (宏碁) abruptly canceled a joint press conference it was to hold with Alibaba in Shanghai on Thursday last week to unveil the Acer CloudMobile A800, which runs on Alibaba’s latest operating system, Aliyun OS 2.0.

According to Alibaba, Acer’s last-minute cancelation was due to direct pressure from Google, which claimed that Aliyun used modified Android software — making it non-compatible.

“Compatibility is at the heart of the Android ecosystem and ensures a consistent experience for developers, manufacturers and consumers,” Google said in a statement on Friday. “Non-compatible versions of Android, like Aliyun, weaken the ecosystem.”

John Spelich, Alibaba’s vice president of international corporate affairs, responded: “Aliyun OS is not part of the Android ecosystem, so of course Aliyun OS is not and does not have to be compatible with Android,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Rubin fired back early yesterday that he agreed with Spelich that Aliyun does not have to be compatible, except that the Aliyun OS is essentially an Android system under another name.

“The fact is, 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,” he wrote. “If you don’t want to be compatible, then don’t expect help from OHA [Open Handset Alliance] members that are all working to support and build a unified Android ecosystem.”

According to an Alibaba statement released on Friday, Acer was notified by Google that if it went ahead with the phone launch, Google would terminate Android-related cooperation and other technology licensing with Acer.

The alleged threat carried weight because Acer recently announced three Android-powered smartphones in Hong Kong — CloudMobile S500, Liquid Gallent E350 and Liquid Glow E330.

Google’s statement on Friday also hinted that it pressured Acer because of a promise Acer made as a member of the OHA.

“All members of the Open Handset Alliance have committed to building one Android platform and to not ship non-compatible Android devices. This does not, however, keep OHA members from participating in competing ecosystems,” the statement said.

The OHA boasts a membership of 84 technology and mobile companies, including Asustek Computer Inc (華碩), Foxconn International Holdings (富士康) and HTC Corp (宏達電). Acer has not commented on the alleged pressure, saying only that it will continue working with its strategic partners in China.

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