Google may have become heavy-handed in pressuring its Android device manufacturers to follow certain guidelines, recently released internal documents show. The documents have been released as part of a continuing lawsuit between it and Skyhook wireless over Google's insistence that Motorola use its own GPS location services.
Skyhook had originally won a contract to replace Google's location services with its own in all Motorola phones. The move apparently bothered the Mountain View, Calif.-based company, and it allegedly pressured Motorola into dropping the agreement. Skyhook then sued Google, alleging anti-competitive behavior.
In one of the emails from May 2010, Android group manager Dan Morrill makes reference to a "compatibility standard." While such a set of guidelines shouldn't be all that surprising, the way he described it is: that it was obvious that "we are using compatibility as a club to make them do things we want," according to the New York Times.
Such terminology seems to suggest that Google's oft-repeated boast about Android being "open" may not be true. Indeed, carriers have increasingly clamped down on what it will allow phones to do, and now it appears Google is ready to make sure phone manufacturers do what it wants as well.
There could be a valid reason for this, however: unlike Apple, Google must deal with a multitude of devices and ensure that Android works properly on every device. Such a conundrum is the same type of problem that Microsoft has with Windows, and also required the Redmond company to set standards for what it would support.
In any case, Google seems to be treading a fine line between acting in the best interest of the entire ecosystem and outright anticompetitive behavior: Morrill's off-color comments certainly give critics fodder that Google is practicing the latter.