Yes, it happened. We had heard about it and it’s now official.
Broadcom has officially announced the contribution of its Bluetooth software stack to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). The software will also be included in Android 4.2. The Broadcom official press release is here: http://www.broadcom.com/press/release.php?id=s721534.
This is a pretty interesting move. As Broadcom used to license its stack to phone manufacturers as long as they used its chip. So it’s a bold move. As far as we know, Samsung phones worked better than other Android phones because they had Broadcom stack which was more complete than BlueZ. We suspect that Google did not think the BlueZ was evolving quickly enough (whether for Bluetooth Low Energy and in terms of adding new profiles). So rather than stay behind, they decided to use Broadcom stack. So what’s in it for Broadcom? Why did they release the source code of something that could be seen as a strategic advantage? Well, I’m sure we can trust our Broadcom friends had a valid business reason to do so.
All we gathered until now is that Bluedroid was contributed by Broadcom and is released under Apache License v2 in the Android 4.2 release. The license terms are at http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0.html . ** The IMPORTANT_LICENSE file states that sources in the Android aosp tree prior to the commit in the text file has a Broadcom proprietary license file. Bluedroid sources prior to the commit in the aosp tree require permission from Broadcom. ** So it’s not clear yet to us what happens to the older files. It seems also that prior licensees of Broadcom have restricted usage. More on this matter in next Blogs.
Regardless, we believe that it’s a good move from Broadcom as one way or another; we suspect (a) this makes it easier to implement Android using their combo (Bluetooth/Wi-Fi) chip which should give them a slight advantage over Qualcomm in the 4G baseband platform race. Also since Samsung bought CSR Combo (Bluetooth/Wi-Fi) chip, Broadcom’s position in connectivity at Samsung is threatened and therefore by making their stack available on all Android devices, they make it more difficult for Samsung to integrate their own CSR based IP with the Android stack. The devil is in the details and it’s in the details that one will see that the new Broadcom/Android stack works better with the Broadcom chips; would you be surprised if it was the case?