Technology giant Google has blocked hardware vendor Acer from producing a mobile phone running a variant of the Android operating system, claiming that it would excessively fragment the ecosystem.
Acer had planned to produce a mobile phone for Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba running the Aliyun operating system. Aliyun is based on Linux, like Android, and uses the Android runtime, framework and tools – but is not 100 per cent compatible.
However, Google threatened to expel Acer from the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), effectively cutting it off from the Android eco-system.
Acer had planned to unveil the new phone with its partner Alibaba on Friday, but cancelled the launch at the eleventh hour as a result of pressure from Google. Alibaba, meanwhile, which had wanted to make Aliyun the mobile operating system of China, has been left high and dry.
"If you want to benefit from the Android ecosystem, then make the choice to be compatible," wrote Andy Rubin, senior vice-president of mobile and digital content at Google in a blog posting. "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."
Others have also complained that while Aliyun is a "fork" of Linux, the source code does not appear to be readily available and downloadable, making it an illegal version. And research by AndroidPolice.com, a specialist Android website, found what it claimed were pirated versions of Android apps in the Aliyun web store.