Google: Augen's Use of Android Market Unauthorized

Looks like someone in the cheap tablet biz might be breakin' the law. When we saw that the $149 Augen GenTouch78 tablet included the Android Market app, we knew it was too good to be true. After all, Google hasn't allowed its Market app onto any Android tablet yet (the Dell Streak doesn't count since it's a phone) so why would they make an exception for an unknown brand selling a junky product? It raised another red flag when we noticed that the Market app on the GenTouch78 actually doesn't work; it can only search for, but not successfully download apps. If Google did allow it, why didn't it work?

Update: Augen CEO responds to this report.

We decided to take our question to Google and ask them if Augen was allowed to install the Android Market and other core Google apps and a spokesperson responded that "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."

Why is this a big deal if Android is open source, anyway? As we've talked about before, the Google Android OS is open-source, but core Google apps, including the Android Market, are closed source and must be licensed.

There's no indication yet how Augen was able to obtain these apps if they didn't come directly from Google. The search giant didn't expand on who the 'unauthorized vendor' might be, but since fans of the Archos 5 have been hacking the Android Market and other core apps onto that tablet for months, it seems just as likely that the manufacturer could have taken similar steps. Clearly something fishy is going on at Augen or whatever company actually makes the GenTouch78.

We also have to wonder how something with unlicensed and potentially illegal software on it could end up on the shelf at K-Mart. We doubt that any national chain store would stock PCs with a pirated or hacked version of Windows.

Google didn't give us any indication of how they intend to proceed regarding the GenTouch78, but I wouldn't count on the Market working fully any time soon. And perhaps the tablet will disappear from shelves completely.

Avram Piltch
Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.