Google slaps Android developer with cease-and-desist letter

Google has ordered a prolific Android developer to cease and desist distribution of its CyanogenMod custom Android ROM because the software contains proprietary applications including YouTube and Google Maps. CyanogenMod is alternative Android operating system boasting more than 30,000 active installations--users have praised its regular updates, which include features often unavailable in the official Android OS. However, it's the inclusion of Google's own mobile apps that appears to be the source of friction: In a chat log transcript posted at the Android and Me website, developer Steve Kondik, a.k.a. Cyanogen, writes "Google just cease and desisted me... CynanogenMod is probably going to be dead...  they are talking specifically about the closed-source Google apps."

In an Android Developers Blog entry posted Sept. 25, Google's Android developer advocate Dan Morrill responds to the controversy, writing "[Services like YouTube, Gmail and Google Voice] are Google's way of benefiting from Android in the same way that any other developer can, but the apps are not part of the Android platform itself. We make some of these apps available to users of any Android-powered device via Android Market, and others are pre-installed on some phones through business deals. Either way, these apps aren't open source, and that's why they aren't included in the Android source code repository. Unauthorized distribution of this software harms us just like it would any other business, even if it's done with the best of intentions."

Kondik responded on the CyanogenMod blog: "I'd love for Google to hand over the keys to the kingdom and let us all have it for free, but that's not going to happen. And who can blame them." He adds that he plans to offer a revamped CynaogenMod as a "bare-bones ROM" that will enable Android users to make calls, send MMS and snap photos, but will no longer include Google apps.

For more on the CyanogenMod controversy:
- read this Register article

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