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Google cracks down on unauthorised Android deals

Companies unhappy with increased interference and apparent favouritism

Google has begun to censure companies over unauthorised changes to the Android operating system, as well as the formation of partnerships without the company's involvement.

According to a Bloomberg report companies will now need prior approval from Google's Andy Rubin in order to gain early access to software updates.

The changes in the working relationship were described by major hardware partners such as LG, Toshiba, Samsung, and Facebook - which is working on its own device. Bloomberg's sources suggest that some companies have already made legal attempts to prevent Google's interference.

Although Android remains open source, and therefore free to use by any company, the advance access to features and updates is now being used as a means to bring major partners into line. Especially given Android's now 31 per cent share of the market.

Google's move is apparently due to concern that its market is beginning to fragment, with some hardware manufacturer's continuing to use outdated versions of the operating system - creating compatiblitily issues for developers and confusion amongst customers.

As a result Google has begun to insert "non-fragmentation clauses" into its contracts, ensuring that it has the final word on how the operating system is used and customised - as well as any additional partnerships between companies.

Smaller firms complain that Google is purposefully delaying the release of new code to the public, making it harder for them to compete.

"The premise of a true open software platform may be where Android started, but it's not where Android is going," Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop is quoted as saying.

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