The open source nature of Android has always been a mixed blessing for Google. It has helped Android become the single most dominant mobile operating system on the planet, but it has also caused huge headaches for users and Google itself because of fragmentation. Now Forbes reports that Google stands poised to take back control of Android via its Android One initiative.
According to Forbes:
Now that market share is clearly with Google (IDC estimates it at 85% for Q2 2014) the question is no longer how to get the OS established as the mass market mobile platform of choice, but about maximizing the revenue generating possibilities for Google. So how does Google deal with the legacy of the first ‘free as in speech’ strategy, namely the Android Open Source Project?
Its answer is Android One, and it hopes that the new for 2014 off-the-shelf package will stem the flow of handset manufacturers in China and India rolling their own flavors of Android from the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Every manufacturer switching to Android One will benefit Google’s bottom line and tighten its grip on the so-called open ecosystem.More at Forbes
You can get more information about Android One at the official site.
I have somewhat mixed feelings about Android One, but I can completely understand why Google has created it and why it's so important to them. It might help them maintain and grow profits by making sure that their applications and services are in as many Android devices as possible. Google is a publicly traded company so they have a responsibility to maximize profit for their shareholders.
But what about users and companies that make Android devices? On one hand the fact that Android One gives Google more control over Android might not please some users and some Android manufacturers who have come to expect more freedom in how they use and manufacture devices. On the other hand it should improve the speed at which users get Android updates, and it takes the heat off of Android manufacturers to maintain Android itself.
I suppose that, in the end, it's inevitable that we're going to have to take the bad with the good in Android One. I am hoping that the good will outweigh any of the bad.