Attention K-Mart Shoppers! Those Augen GenTouch 78 Tablets, a hot steal at $150, really did involve a theft. The Android 2.1 operating system in the tablets is indeed open source, but along for the ride were some of Google's proprietary applications. And those were driving the tablet without a license.
The Google Mobile Services suite is only distributed to members of the Open Handset Alliance, and Augen neglected to spring for a membership. That means those bits of the software are present on the tablet, but don't actually work. For example, you can open the Android Market and see all the terrific apps that could run on your GenTouch. But since there's no license with Google, you can't download a thing.
LaptopMag got a statement from a Google spokesperson on Augen's using their apps without permission: "Augen included proprietary Google software in their product via an unauthorized vendor. Google only licenses its software to partners and OHA [Open Handset Alliance] members directly." They went on to wonder how K-Mart ended up selling a product with pirated software, and whether this would end their relationship with Augen.
Augen responds that the whole thing was a mistake. In a rather interesting explanation, Augen CEO Gary Goffman said the Google software was there because they "were pre installed during the development process on our tablets for testing purposes, and were not removed unintentionally before releasing the products in the market place." It's that phrase "and were not removed unintentionally," does that mean they were not removed intentionally instead?
And here's a piece of Augen's web page on the GenTouch:
The interesting contradiction on this page is further played out with the "unintentional" release of Google's proprietary apps. The circled text above reads:
There are currently over 70,000 apps available for Android, which makes it the second most popular mobile development target.
Download Thousands of Apps from the App Store.
With Apps Store, over 2,000 apps are seconds away with just the click of a button. After all apps make the world go round.
So what's going on? 2,000 apps or 70,000? The Android Market (the one the GenTouch can't download from) has 70,000, so what is this Apps Store? Could it be the AndAppStore?
Augen went on to say they were in negotiations with Google to license their Mobile Services, but until then they would remove Google's software from "current devices," and "will add applications to accommodate the absence of the Google Mobile Services Application Suite."
Digging into the comments on LaptopMag, Brian Mastenbrook speculates that still more booty was taken without recompense. Not only is there software from well-known vendors such as DataViz and Skype, the Linux kernal source hasn't been released, implying the Linux is also unlicensed. He notes all GenTouches have the same MAC address. Finally it has an FCC logo but no FCC ID. Did Augen actually get the tablet approved by the FCC or just slap on a label?
Shiver me timbers!
Additional Source: TalkAndroid