Just when I thought Google had exhausted all of its goodwill, they turn around and do something crazy and beautiful. If you haven't already read this excellent Bloomberg article you should, but I'll post the bit pertinent to this article here.
"Over the past few months, according to several people familiar with the matter, Google has been demanding that Android licensees abide by "non-fragmentation clauses" that give Google the final say on how they can tweak the Android code—to make new interfaces and add services—and in some cases whom they can partner with."
From what it sounds like, Google is bawling out carriers and manufacturers for bundling extraneous bloatware onto their phones and devices. My Evo comes with an infuriating Sprint application suite that can't be fully turned off or eradicated without a jailbreak. All this modification- especially the manufacturer-specific UIs like HTC Sense, also increases fragmentation of the Android OS.
Which is why your Galaxy S won't get Android 2.3 at the same time as your buddy's Droid X. This isn't only a pain in the ass for you. Developers have to either accept that a big chunk of the buying Android populace will miss out on their app, or take the (substantial) time to tweak their offering for every variation out there.
Partners who don't agree to Google's stringent new enforcement of old rules won't be able to bundle their phones with crucial Android apps- like Google Nav. They'll also have to give up access to the App Market.
It isn't clear just what Google intends to do about manufacturer UIs. I can't imagine they'll be able to kill them entirely. But they can't very well fight Android fragmentation without addressing one of its major causes.
So- what does this mean for Verizon's Bing deal? Since last year they've been bundling Microsoft's search engine as the default for a certain number of Verizon handsets. If Google will have some say in who Verizon can "partner with" on their Android phones, can we expect to see "Bing" Android phones disappear? Does anyone out there actually prefer having Bing on their phone? If so, let us know why in the comments.