Amazon and HTC team up to build smartphones, risk ire of Google

HTC logoThe Financial Times is reporting that Amazon and HTC are teaming up to develop a "range" of smartphones. The timeline is fuzzy at this point, with the report saying that the devices are unlikely to launch this year. Despite one phone supposedly being "at an advanced stage of development," The Financial Times says that Amazon might not release the device at all.

Still, if the report pans out, this will be the second time HTC has helped a company jump into the smartphone market. It previously built the HTC First, the flagship phone for the launch of Facebook Home, an Android home replacement. The smartphone company is surely hoping its fortunes will be better this time, as the "Facebook Phone" was a massive flop, selling only 15,000 units.

But the huge difference between the two initiatives is that the HTC First was an Android device and shipped with the Google Apps. Presumably, the Amazon phone would run a version of the Kindle OS, an Android fork that ships without the Play Store and the rest of Google's apps.

An HTC partnership with Amazon would be extremely surprising. Building a device that runs a fork of Android is something that HTC is expressly forbidden from doing as per its membership in the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), Google's cabal of Android Google app licensees. Members get access to the Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps, and all the other Google apps for Android. OHA members commit to building one Android platform—Google's platform—and not shipping devices that run forks of Android.

We saw Google's response to a situation like this before when Acer tried to ship a device running a non-Google-approved version of Android—Alibaba's Aliyun OS. When Google got wind of it, Acer was told to shut the project down or lose its access to Google Apps. Google even made a whole blog post about the ordeal, saying:

While Android remains free for anyone to use as they would like, only Android compatible devices benefit from the full Android ecosystem. By joining the Open Handset Alliance, each member contributes to and builds one Android platform—not a bunch of incompatible versions.

Historically, it appears that shipping one non-Google device will get you kicked out of the Google ecosystem. So if Amazon's phone makes it to market and doesn't run a Google-approved version of Android, HTC could be banned from future access to Google apps.

Google's grip over the entire smartphone ecosystem is why none of the usual names build Amazon's Kindle Fire line of tablets. OHA members can't ship Android forks, meaning Acer, Asus, Dell, Foxconn, Fujitsu, HTC, Huawei, Kyocera, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, NEC, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, and ZTE have not built any Amazon devices. This leaves the Kindle Fires in the hands of Quanta Computer, a company primarily known for making laptops.

While the plans clearly aren't concrete at this point, HTC and Amazon would need to figure out how to ship these devices without getting HTC expelled from Google's Android ecosystem. Amazon's devices are meant to encourage users to use Amazon's services; it's hard to imagine the company shipping an Android device full of competing services from Google, but that's what HTC's OHA membership requires. We'll be eagerly awaiting Google's response to all this with a bowl of popcorn at the ready.

If Google's level of control over a seemingly open source project is news to you, the rabbit hole goes much deeper. We'll be addressing just how hard life outside of the Google ecosystem is in a feature due out early next week.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Amazon, HTC, smartphones

Comments
Add comment

Your name:
Sign in with:
or
Your comment:


Enter code:

E-mail (not required)
E-mail will not be disclosed to the third party


Last news

 
 
Highlights of the new feature update include a tweaked interface with Fluent Design elements
 
It’s now open to third-party developers and designed for smart home devices
 
Prices start at $1499 for the 13.5-inch model and $2499 for the 15-inch model
 
Users claim the Start menu isn’t working after the upgrade
 
It will release its first all-purpose AI chips by the end of 2017
 
Android 8.1 Oreo arriving on Pixel phones "in the coming weeks"
 
The Snapdragon 636 also comes with support for modern ultra-wide FHD+ displays
The Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Review
The evolution of the successful smartphone, now with a waterproof body and USB Type-C
February 7, 2017 /
Samsung Galaxy TabPro S - a tablet with the Windows-keyboard
The first Windows-tablet with the 12-inch display Super AMOLED
June 7, 2016 /
Keyboards for iOS
Ten iOS keyboards review
July 18, 2015 /
Samsung E1200 Mobile Phone Review
A cheap phone with a good screen
March 8, 2015 / 4
Creative Sound Blaster Z sound card review
Good sound for those who are not satisfied with the onboard solution
September 25, 2014 / 2
Samsung Galaxy Gear: Smartwatch at High Price
The first smartwatch from Samsung - almost a smartphone with a small body
December 19, 2013 /
 
 

News Archive

 
 
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    




Poll

Do you use microSD card with your phone?
or leave your own version in comments (4)