UPDATED 12:06 EDT / SEPTEMBER 06 2011

Android’s Openness Could Be Its Downfall

Google has always been proud of the fact that Android is an open source platform, which means it can be used and tweaked by developers, especially mobile manufacturers, the way they want it to run.  And this is exactly what’s happening.  When Android launched, companies integrated the OS in their smartphones, which meant that Goggle apps come with it.  Now, Android’s OS reign may soon be over.

Baidu, China’s biggest internet company, stated that they will be releasing a new Android-based mobile platform called Yi.  The platform offers wireless users more direct access to the company’s services including search, maps and an electronic reader.  Aside from the Yi platform, Baidu is tying up with Dell, the computer hardware company, to produce tablets and smartphones which will have the Yi platform.

Dell is seeking to penetrate the tablet and smartphone sector as the PC market has remarkably dwindled.  Rumor has it that the first Dell-Baidu tablet will be based on the now extinct Dell Streak 5, the five-inch tablet which really didn’t make its mark on the market.  This partnership will also boost Dell’s sales as they will be the first company to tie up with a local internet service provider.

According to SinoPac Securities analyst Hanna Chang, “All PC brands are trying to differentiate themselves from each other in the mobile space, and Dell’s tie-up with Baidu may give it first-mover advantage in the China market.”

But Dell may not be the sole Baidu partner, as the company is also said to be looking into Huawei, the world’s No. 2 telecommunication equipment maker, which recently launched the Huawei Vision.

Baidu’s step in the mobile phone market could have been influenced by Alibaba’s launch of the K-Touch Cloud-Smart Phone W700 earlier this year.  The smartphone runs on the Aliyun OS which is a cloud-based mobile device operating system.

And Baidu is not the only one seeking to expand through tie-ups, either.  Sina, Baidu’s number one competitor in China, recently announced the “Weibo phone” through its partnership with HTC.  The smartphone is a revised version of the HTC Salsa which has a dedicated Facebook button while the Sina smartphone has a Weike, Sina Weibo, dedicated button.

Apple is also expanding in this sector as they prep for a new store opening in Hong Kong’s International Finance Center mall by September 24.  This will be their fifth Apple store in China, which will soon be followed by a sixth one, to launch much later this year, in Shanghai.  Apple notes that most Chinese with high incomes prefer Apple products over the various brands available, marking a major contributor for its expansion in the Chinese market.

Amazon is aiming to trump iPad sales with its Amazon Kindle tablet, competing on price and integrated markets.  In order to do this, analysts stated that Amazon should look into reducing the influence of Android into their product.  And it looks like Amazon is taking their advice as one TechCrunch writer claims to have experienced the Amazon Kindle tablet firsthand.  Aside from describing the tablet as looking much like the BlackBerry Playbook, he stated that though the tablet runs on the Android platform, Amazon tweaked it to look more like Amazon and Kindle UI, no Google apps to be found.  The Google Android Market is replaced by the Amazon Android Market.  The only visible Google influence is that it is still the default search tool.  And MG Siegler, the lucky guy who got use the Amazon Kindle tablet even for just an hour, was assured by his source that Google was in no way involved in the development of the tablet.

What used to be the reason why Android seemed so great now seems to be its greatest vulnerability.  We may soon find Android standing on the sidelines, watching everyone profit as Google will need to expand monetization capabilities of its platform’s ecosystem.


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