Nilay Petal of This is My Next (and formerly of Engadget) has written up a terrific breakdown of the ongoing Google/Skyhook lawsuit, which alleges Google interfered with Skyhook's location tracking business by unfairly using their control over Android licensing.
At the very least, it’s now extremely clear that Google plays a major role in Android device development, to the point where Andy Rubin himself approves and denies requests from OEMs. It’s also clear that Google places tremendous value on collecting location data, and it acted swiftly when it determined Skyhook’s deal with Motorola might threaten its ability to collect that data. Hell, one of the headings in Google’s summary judgment brief is “Skyhook was not entitled to deprive Google of its contractual right to collect location data on Motorola Android devices.” Can’t say it much plainer than that, really. And Google’s doesn’t hesitate to use its muscle to get what it wants from OEMs — it revised Samsung’s app license to specifically require Google location services be installed and used by default. Whether or not Google’s behavior is anti-competitive is a matter for the court to decide, but it’s definitely aggressive.
Emphasis is Patel's. To be frank, I don't have any problem with this in general. I wouldn't even call it "evily", just "businessy". Google is a public company in a highly competitive space and the drive to succeed is enormous. So is the desire to maintain quality and reduce fragmentation.
But here's the thing -- Google so constantly, consistently, and competitively misrepresents it as "open" and "good" in contrast to Apple's "closed" and "evil".
At Google I/O last year, Google's Vic Gundotra played the 1984 card against Apple, saying in essence they created Android because they feared a future where one man (Steve Jobs) and one company (Apple) controlled the mobile space. He said that, apparently, knowing the exact same thing applied to Andy Rubin and Google.
What should be particularly galling for Android users (of which I'm one -- Nexus One specifically) is that Rubin and Google will use this power to prevent Motorola, Samsung, and Skyhook from interfering with Google's ability to ensure themselves a great data collection experience on Android, but they'll do nothing to prevent manufacturers and carriers from denying customers a good user experience by locking bootloaders, locking out side loaders, installing crapware, and otherwise ruining Android's increasingly good handsets.
Google will step in to prevent their own loss of data, but not to prevent the loss of "openness" to their end users. At the same time they were calling Apple closed, decrying Apple's lack of choice, and implying Apple was evil, Google was keeping their proprietary apps and their license as weapons, denying location data service choice to their partners, and acting... if not evil, then certainly "evily".
We've already established Android isn't open, it's "openy" and once again that's fine -- it's just no different from Apple except for the areas in which they choose to focus.
And it's one more in a long list of examples as to why you should never buy a phone based on philosophy. You should buy it based on being the best phone for you.
Now go read Patel's full article, linked below.