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Google's Android: Is this what "fragmentation" means?

I missed this news from CTIA the other day, but The Register reported that Sanjay Jha, COO of Qualcomm's chipset division, had strong words about Google's open source Android platform. According to Jha, Google's Android is designed to drive fragmentation and ensure that there's no equivalent of Microsoft Office in the mobile phone world.

OMG, Sanjay, what will we do without the equivalent of Microsoft Office in the mobile phone world? How will we handle all that innovative variety, and the absence of a monopolist at the center of the technology ecosystem. It's a dreadful thought, indeed! It reminds me of a touching scene from HBO's current "John Adams" series where King George of England tells Adams he hopes the American people won't suffer too greatly for lack of a monarch!

Qualcomm, you may remember, is also the company that delivered Brew: a not-quite-Java-but-wishes-it-was proprietary product that helped contribute to the lameness of opportunities for third party developers in the US mobile market. Compared to many other markets, the US might as well be using technology that King George himself could have designed. If Qualcomm and their carrier cronies had their way, then we probably wouldn't be bothered by pesky open source platforms like Android for many years to come.

Google's own Dan Morrill was pretty clear in his disavowal of Jha's statements. In this piece on Google Groups, Morrill says:

Jha is not a Google employee, and does not speak for Google; at best, he might be speaking for his own company.  His statements as quoted are obviously way out of step with the real objectives of Android, and are his personal speculation insofar as they mention Google. The sole goal of the Android project is to produce a high-quality, fully open platform designed from top to bottom for mobile.  Google is involved because we want to help build the kind of platform we want to use. 

 "A high-quality, fully open platform" is a long way from designed to drive fragmentation. Even though Qualcomm is involved in helping several manufacturers deliver Android-powered handsets, at least one of their top managers seems to have a dim view of openness. Perhaps that should come as no surprise when we consider that Qualcomm has made boatloads of money with proprietary IP in countless millions of handsets. Say bye-bye to that cash cow, Qualcomm, that's what Android will fragment.

Designed to drive fragmentation! How could he even say it with a straight face?


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