Google’s Andy Rubin Q&A talks Carrier lockdowns and Windows Mobile 7…

| October 9, 2010 | Reply


Andy Rubin is the vice president of engineering at Google. Rubin has some great credentials as he founded Android before it was acquired by Google, and also helped invent the Sidekick. 

He is pretty much “The Man” when it comes to Google mobile platform Android, and recently PCMAG.COM’s Sascha Segan sat down with him for a great Q&A.

Here are some highlights from that great interview, such as carrier lockdowns and so on:

Consumers vs. Carriers People have been saying that the freedom of Android has basically meant that the carriers are free to screw the consumers.

If I were to release an operating system that I claimed was open and that forced everybody to make [phones] all look the same and all support very narrow features and functionality, the platform wouldn’t win. It wouldn’t win because the OEMs have a lot of value to bring and the carriers have a lot of value to bring, and they need a vehicle by which to put their interesting differentiating features on these things. Every phone shouldn’t look like every other phone. If that was the case there would just be one SKU, right? The whole idea here is just to figure out what consumers want, build phones and tailor them to what consumers want.

But you guys do have minimum standards for Android devices. So why not say you can’t build devices that don’t accept non-market applications? Where do you draw the line?

Well, it’s tough to draw the line, and we think about that a lot. First of all, we don’t like drawing lines. We like making exceptions, and we learn a lot in the process. … The point of being open is that I’ve given up control of what can be put on phones, and put it in the hands of everybody in the community.

But when you say “you’ve put it in the hands of the community,” what people in the U.S. frequently hear is “you’ve put it in the hands of the wireless carriers.”

Yes and no. It’s always going to be like that. I’m not trying to be a wireless carrier, I’m not trying to assert authority over the wireless operators, but I think it’s kind of like that 1.5 and 1.6 versus 2.2 scenario. I think over time they’ll learn what is good business and what is bad business. Google is a big believer in openness and openness means customization. There’s a difference between customization and personalization. Personalization is something the consumer does, customization is something an OEM or operator does. And they have to find the right balance there.

On Monday, Microsoft is announcing their first Windows Phone 7 phones . What do you think of that platform as a competitor?

I think the screen shots I’ve seen are interesting, but look, the world doesn’t need another platform. Android is free and open; I think the only reason you create another platform is for political reasons. Why doesn’t the whole world run with [Android]? They don’t like the people who developed, or “not invented here,” but [Android] is a successful, complete, vertically integrated free platform. I encourage everybody to use it, but I’m also not under the impression that everybody will use it, which is a good thing, because competition is good for the consumer and if somebody has an an idea for a feature or a piece of functionality in their platform and Android doesn’t do it, great. I think it’s good to have the benefit of choice, but in the end I don’t think the world needs another platform.What Android is particularly good at that I think some of the other platforms lack, besides being open, is it’s really a platform that’s enabling a bunch of services. When we talk about the Web and we talk about mashups, we’re really talking about cloud services. The back end part of that, the services that the actual cloud offers, Google has been in that business since day zero. Search was the first thing, and then Gmail, and YouTube, and Google Talk and everything else. So those cloud-enabled services actually give the device a better experience because the cloud is doing the heavy lifting. The cloud is humming away with unlimited bandwidth, acting on your behalf.

Read the rest of the Q&A at the Source PCMag.

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Category: Android News

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