With the list of Android based tablets growing, so has manufacturer’s desire to lock down their tablet in the same way Apple has done with their iOS operating system. Over the last month, both Barnes and Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle Fire have released firmware updates that make rooting or hacking their devices more difficult and have led to a public outcry. The Android market has always been so open, and that openness was enthusiast’s main battle cry when they compared it to Apple’s proprietary iOS. However, with the new wave of company’s walling off their devices in order to make additional profit, how much longer will this selling point be accepted?
I think not long. In the case of Barnes and Noble, their device was already shipped with a stripped down version of the Android marketplace and only had app’s approved by B&N. It is no surprise that there are very few ‘free’ apps in this list and even games that have been free for a year or more on the official Google App Store cost $1.99 or more on B&N’s store. Amazon has it’s own app store as well and with its recent Kindle Fire update has also heavily pushed its users to its app store over it’s competitors.
It is understandable that these companies are trying to profit wherever they can. That is their responsibility to their shareholders but if the main selling point for the devices is openness, shutting doors at every corner is not going to win them any prizes with the public. In the coming years, it will be interesting to see just how locked down these 3rd party devices become. In the end, one wonders if it will become what it was before an open source operating system hit it big in the first place where each device has one app-store available, one version of the OS that is specific to the games and apps that are made, etc. If that happens, it won’t be good for businesses or consumers and will be a major step back.