The Android has always had something on the iPhone: the ability for customization and freedom. The iPhone, for all of its obvious benefits, has been known to control the iOS and App Store with a centralized iron fist. On the flip side, the Android has been so fragmented that you often find it a whole range of devices. This has obviously become clunky and often times bring down the Android OS in general, and Google is now making it clear that this period in its history is over.
They are now going to restrict those who license the Android OS by including new restrictions that stop this general fragmentation between them. Mountain View will now have the ability to nix changes that may be made, which means that there will be standardization among the Android devices again.
Now Google will be able to hold back the Android from those that are not going to meet the specifics of the restrictions. This goes far beyond the Android software itself and really posits Google as a whole in this conversation, mainly because the format of these new web based smart phone devices directly influences Google‚Äö√Ñ√¥s main focus. This really does come after issues with Verizon‚Äö√Ñ√¥s Windows phone where Bing was placed as the standard Internet search tool.
This decision has been hailed as a solution to the problems seen with recent Android incarnations, but it has less to do with functionality that it does with brand image. The devices that do alter the Android framework do so under the belief that this is what their customers want, which is the exact same point of reference Google has. There are several points of both success and failure, but these changes do not reflect an overall sense of OS crisis. What Google actually hopes to gain by this standardization is for the Android to be known by name in a concrete way where its brand will become recognizable and requested roundly, allowing it to be advertised as a direct competitor to the iOS. If you are allowed to change the Android OS significantly then it has not ability to create brand identity, and therefore remains an amorphous software that different phones just build on.
There is no telling how this will actually affect developers and manufactures, but it is clear that this will limit what can be done and begin centralizing the Android in the same way the iPhone is.