Android WebKit Car Analogy

The Android robot is reproduced or modified from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.Google throws nearly a billion Android users under the bus” and “Why Google won’t fix a security bug in almost a billion Android phones” but what I haven’t seen is an article that explains the situation in a way that people who WANT to blame Google seem to be able to understand so I’m going to try to explain this using an automobile analogy.

Imagine that Google makes automobile motors that many auto manufacturers use in the cars they sell. Some manufacturers want higher performance motors, so they replace the standard intake and cam with “improved” versions.  Other manufactures want more creature comforts in their cars, so they strap on AC units and other accessories.

Now it turns out that there was a problem with the motors that Google provided to manufacturers 18 months ago. To make things more interesting, the manufacturers didn’t actually have to pay ANYTHING to Google for the motors Google provided. Additionally, Google has offered to replace all of  their previous models at no additional charge twice since the faulty motors were shipped.

The manufacturers have chosen to not replace the faulty motors because they thought they were “good enough” and they would have to apply their chosen modifications to the replacement motors before sending them out. Besides, if people really want a new motor, they need to buy a new car. Right?

Keep in mind that this analogy is flawed.  For instance it implies that Google is actually providing hardware. They aren’t.  A more accurate analogy (but one less likely to be understood) is that Google is providing the software for the car’s computer.  All of the mechanical parts (including the electronics for the computer) are produced by the car manufacturer, but there is a bug in the code that Google made available to the manufacturer. Google doesn’t even know what kind of computer the manufacturer has chosen to install in their car.

My question to you is:  when you buy a car and it has problems with the motor (or computer), who do you go to for service?  I expect the vast majority of people would say the manufacturer (or it’s dealers) but many of these same people seem to want to put 100% (or more) of the blame on Google for the webkit issue. Logic seems to elude some people….

Is Google responsible for the bug? Sure, it was in their code. Is Google responsible for the bug not being fixed in your phone? Nope! They fixed the bug in later releases and your phone manufacturer choose not to release that fix.

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