Google hits a snag in China as world's largest carrier hijacks Android

Google is famous for touting its adherence to open standards and for developing on top of Open Source software platforms such as Linux. Launching Android, Google (GOOG) stated its new operating system would be open sourced -- that is, the software code would be free to download, modify and change. Such a laissez faire approach does make it possible for others to develop versions of Android that are not completely compatible. Thus far, this has not been a problem, with one enormous exception: China Mobile (CHL).

China Mobile, the world's largest mobile phone company with over 300 million subscribers, took Google at its word and decided to adopt the core software of Android for its own OMS operating system. China Mobile is now well on its way to building a code base that is different from the versions of Android being built by Google itself. And more than any other carrier on Earth, China Mobile can cause a code fork problem that could short circuit Android growth in the Middle Kingdom -- by far the largest mobile market on Earth.