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Archos users celebrate Android app access

For as long as Google doesn‘t notice

Reducing security risks from open source software

Users of Android-based tablets from Archos can now get the Google applications the rest of the Android community takes for granted, and seem blissfully unaware of the illegality of doing so.

The apps include Gmail and Google Talk, though it‘s YouTube and the Android Marketplace client that most Archos users seem to want. They can now have these thanks to an anonymous pirate under the pseudonym m4rk3 who‘s provided a downloadable package containing all the necessary applications in the ArchosFans forums. Users don‘t seem to understand that these are just as legally protected as any other application/film/music.

Google might provide Android for free, but the search giant charges phone manufacturers for its applications including Google Maps and Gmail. Manufacturers are under no obligation to pay, and Google doesn‘t like to license its apps for tablet devices (such as those marketed by Archos) as it was hoping those would be based on the next version of the OS: code-named Gingerbread.

So Archos didn‘t pay up, or wasn‘t offered the option (neither company is saying which), and the Archos range of tablets don‘t have the Google apps on board - and Archos runs its own application store. Unless one installs the pirate software, that is.

Archos isn‘t alone in eschewing Google's closed-source applications - some Asian and Indian phone manufacturers are using part, or all, of Android and providing their own applications and store, but in the west Google has managed to get its commercial packages so closely associated with the free operating system that handset manufacturers are obliged to pay up - perhaps the revenue stream to which Eric Schmidt was referring when he said that Android development was already in profit.

And Google does care. When Augen Electronics left the Google applications installed on the launch version of the tablet the search giant was quick to respond, forcing Augen into a what the CEO described as a "constructive conversation with Google" about the devices already on the store shelves. How much money was exchanged we don‘t know, but the company promised to be more careful in future.

So the provision of Google‘s apps to Archos users is nothing more (or less) than software piracy, and as such would usually hardly warrant a mention in our pages. But given the number of Android users who don‘t seem to understand this, we thought it worth a mention.

As Google itself opines, without a trace of irony: “Unauthorized distribution... harms us just like it would any other business, even if it's done with the best of intentions.“ ®

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