Google has reportedly filed a cease-and-desist order against one of the Android platform’s most prolific developers. The developer, Steve Kondik, who’s known as Cyanogen, offers a free, after-market firmware product that bundles closed-source Google apps such as Gmail, Market, Talk and YouTube. CyanogenMod, as the app is dubbed, claims 30,000 users, many of whom appear to be hardcore Android fans. Lauren Weinstein, who writes extensively on Internet and privacy issues, wrote on his blog:
“I myself run a Cyanogen ROM on my G1. It’s fantastic stuff. Cyanogen provides an array of useful functionalities not yet in official Android releases — some of these enhancements may never be in official Android releases. Yet Cyanogen’s ROMs don’t cheat T-Mobile out of phone call revenue, won’t steal gold bullion from Fort Knox, nor will they even increase global warming…While I’m not a lawyer, I can understand Google’s formal concerns from a lawyer’s point of view. On the other hand, given the overall situation, such a stance seems not to be of the high ‘Googley’ caliber that I would normally expect from Google.”
Such a move would be an unusual one for Google, which has actively promoted its laissez-faire strategy with Android — a tack that contrasts starkly with Apple’s heavy-handed policing of its App Store. An online petition has been established in an effort to persuade Google to drop its alleged legal action against the CyanogenMod app. I’ve asked Google about the reported cease-and-desist order but have yet to hear back; I’ll update the story as I get more information.