Android is a lot more free than iOS, but there are limits. We need to break through those.

At its birth, Android was the horizontal and open solution to the problem of Apple's vertical and closed silo. On Android, hardware makers and software writers could build devices and apps, free to operate outside the walls of any vendor's closed garden.

This was fine, as long as we ignored the closed and vertical natures of three controlling forces in Android's market space: 1) mobile-phone companies; 2) Google's main business, which is advertising; and 3) every e-commerce vendor, each operating its own silo. So let's visit those, in order.

Mobile-Phone Companies

Before Android standardized a single popular platform for smart mobile devices, the phones we got were co-silo'd by partnerships between phone makers and phone companies. Back in the early 2000s, I sat in a meeting where a parade of software developers presented ground-breaking ideas to Nokia, which had invested in a number of those same developers. At the end, one of the Nokia people explained that these were all interesting ideas, but that the company already had worked out plans for features to be rolled out during the next several years on the company's phones, in partnership with the carriers. This explained why, for example, my Nokia E62 lacked the Wi-Fi capability of the otherwise identical Nokia E61 ( The E62 was built for carriers in the US, while the E61 was built for various European carriers. If AT&T didn't want Wi-Fi on the E62, it wouldn't be there.

We can thank Apple for driving a much harder and better bargain with AT&T than any other mobile-phone maker ever did. And we can thank Google for making sure that the smart mobile device market had a white-box operating system, so its hardware base could be as broad and generative as possible.
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