Google’s Open Handset Alliance site: not mobile, not open

I was browsing the web on my mobile, as one does, and came across a news item about the Open Handset Alliance, Google’s new initiative to foster a Linux-based operating system for mobile devices, codename Android. I clicked the link, but thought I’d mis-clicked, because this is what I got:

Open Handset Alliance site showing only a Google search page

Puzzled, I checked out the site later on a PC. Everything was fine:

Open Handset Alliance showing blurb about commitment to openness

The problem is that Google automatically detects mobile browsers and redirects them to an “/m” version of the site. Which in this instance is completely useless. There is no obvious way round it – I tried amending the URL, but it bounced straight back to Google search. This is one of the reasons I dislike the mobile web.

Let me add that Google has done a mixed job on the “open” aspect, even if you visit with a supported browser. Most of the site doesn’t mention Google. It places itself modestly in alphabetical order under Software Companies, in the list of members.

So far so good, but then I hit the terms of service:

1.2 Your use of products, software, services and websites in connection with the Open Handset Alliance website (referred to collectively as the “Services” in this document) is subject to the terms of a legal agreement between you and Google.

4.3 As part of this continuing innovation, you acknowledge and agree that Google may stop (permanently or temporarily) providing the Services (or any features within the Services) to you or to users generally at Google’s sole discretion, without prior notice to you.

5.5 Unless explicitly permitted to do so by Google, you agree that you will not reproduce, duplicate, copy, sell, trade or resell the Services for any purpose.

Ouch. Those pesky lawyers just don’t get this open thing, do they?

3 thoughts on “Google’s Open Handset Alliance site: not mobile, not open”

  1. There’s always going to some control. It’s perhaps more of a stepping stone? The Android system will certainly be more ‘open’ than anything than the state of things at the moment. The mobile world at present is so tightly controlled I welcome Google’s move.

  2. Ryan

    Thanks for the comment; please don’t misunderstand me as I’m not meaning to dismiss the whole thing. I just thought the mobile browser redirection was unfortunate, and I hate the heavy-handed legal terms of service.


  3. Aha – the ancient Linux/windows argument redefined for web 2.0! Wonder how it will play out this time? What will happen next, free mobile phones from Google for kids in underprivileged countries locked into their new mobile OS Googlux 1.0 and only able to recieve mobile content from the geeks at the Googleplex? Disgruntled and cynical, or a preview of things to come?

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