Android is far less ‘open’ than Google’s PR spinners would have you believe

Ashesh Shah
April 17, 2010
513 Views
2 Comments

“You thought Android was open? The Android governance model consists of an elaborate set of control points that allows Google to bundle its own services and control the exact software and hardware make-up on every handset. All this while touting the openness rhetoric that is founded on the Apache permissive license used in the Android SDK,” Andreas Constantinou blogs for VisionMobile.

“The openness rhetoric and the Google aura has attracted thousands of developers on the platform, at a time when the money equation is sub-par; consider that – compared to the Apple devices – Android handsets are around 9x less in volume and paid-for apps are available in 6x fewer countries,” Constantinou writes. “What’s even more fascinating is how closed Android is, despite Google’s do-no-evil mantra and the permissive Apache 2 license which Android SDK is under. Paraphrasing a famous line from Henry Ford’s book on the Model-T, anyone can have Android in their own colour as long as it’s black. Android is the best example of how a company can use open source to build up interest and community participation, while running a very tight commercial model.”

Google uses 8 control points to manage the make-up of Android handsets:

  1. Private branches
  2. Closed review process
  3. Speed of evolution
  4. Incomplete software
  5. Gated developer community
  6. Anti-fragmentation agreement
  7. Private roadmap
  8. Android trademark

Constantinou writes, “The Open Handset Alliance is another myth; since Google managed to attract sufficient industry interest in 2008, the OHA is simply a set of signatures with membership serving only as a VIP Club badge… With Android, Google aims to deliver a consistent platform to its own revenue-generating services. For now, this is the ad business. But in the future, Google is aiming at voice (reaching the billions who don’t have a data connection) and Checkout (i.e. becoming the Visa of mobile). Yet whatever the endgame, it’s worth realising that Android is no more open – and no less closed – than Windows Mobile, Apple OSX or PalmOS; it’s the smartest implementation of open source aimed at driving commercial agendas. Android is much less about the do-no-evil rhetoric that the PR spinners in Mountain View would like us to think.”

Resource:
http://macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/24844/

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