Android Open Source Model Has a Short Circuit | Freedom to Tinker

Last year, Google entered the mobile phone market with a Linux-based mobile operating system. The company brought together device manufacturers and carriers in the Open Handset Alliance

Android represents a careful balance on the part of Google, in which the company seeks to foster open platforms but maintain control over its proprietary (but free) services.

I wonder if the position this interesting article takes on how Open Source Android REALLY is still applies.

If it does, it kind of makes the whole Open (Android) v Closed (iPhone) argument less logical. Android is then just an Open Sourced Method of Delivering Proprietary Google services to the Market in order for Google to make even more money from their search.

More importantly, it allows them to start making actual revenue from all the stuff which has been subsidised by Search for so many years.


6 thoughts on “Android Open Source Model Has a Short Circuit | Freedom to Tinker

  1. Pretty simple test of how open source Android is.Go here: the source, read the license.Or go here: and grab a custom build, built from the source available above, without googles own services built in (in fact they’d rather that you didn’t carry their proprietary apps).Now go to Apple, say I’d like to have the source for iPhoneOS4 so I can build my own custom version.

  2. Does one have to use all references to Apple from commentary so we can focus on Googles motives? Which, from a business perspective are not really disimilar to Apples?In that: We will create a platform to enable us to make money from our other services;Where in Google’s case Platform = the “open source” Android and in Apple’s = the “closed source” iPhone OSWhere in Google’s case Services = all the stuff they keep creating, but especially search and advertising and in Apple’s = the iTunes and App Stores and all the stuff they have around that.It’s business, they are both looking for the same outcomes, Apple choose to control the quality of the platform and don’t try to hide it either.ergo; Apple is Evil

  3. Okay leaving apple out of it. The thing is, Google has released the source code to the android OS. If you want, you can take the code and build your own services on top. MS can take it, remove the Google Apps and replace them with their own and Google won’t stop them.Sure Google isn’t perfect, far from it (and I’ve been involved with one of their Open Source projects for a while now, and could give them plenty of advice on where they could do better). However to claim that because they have commercial motives they are somehow less than honest when it comes to Open Source shows a pretty deep misunderstanding of what Open Source actually is.

  4. Being a GOOSkeptic, I have pretty much ignored Android, because it doesn’t appear to me to be “proper Linux” and I believe that the GOO is delivering Android to increase market penetration & vendor lock-in rather than because they are “nice.” Open Source, for a given value of ‘open.’ And the GOO may have a very different one from you or me.This kept me away from smartphones until I discovered Maemo and the Nokia N900. Of course there’s proprietary stuff in there, but it doesn’t worry me any more than the proprietary video drivers that have been with Linux for so long. (I believe that the Nokia proprietary stuff still comes with source, whilst those video drivers were binary only.)Nokia is out to sell hardware, not software. I don’t even think their handset market would be that important – Ericsson pulled out and sold to Sony because their big business is selling $$$ hardware to Telcos. So I’d be more inclined to trust them than an online services company striving to become an online monopoly.One caveat though – I think that the further you get from the totally proprietary products that come from the likes of Apple, the further you may drift from having a product that “just works.” I know of many people who have given up on Maemo devices because they wanted the warm fuzzies you get from having an Open Source product, but complained bitterly when they didn’t behave as expected and didn’t “just work.”If vendor lock-in isn’t the scary term it is for me and one is not a developer/geek happy to wrestle with what is effectively a pocket Debian box (ie: a Maemo device,) Android might just be good middle-ground. Just keep the GOO where you can see it, and be aware of its agenda.

  5. I'm not claiming they are less honest when it comes to their treatment of open source. I'm saying the commentariat seems to completely forget that Google is a commercial enterprise dedicated to growing their business to the benefit of themselves and their shareholders. Further, they conveniently treat them as some 'open source' organisation to meet the needs of the conversation, when it is obvious to me Android for them is most importantly a method of delivering customers to their paying service. I'm not saying Google is doing anything wrong. It makes good commercial sense, especially when the mobile devices which existed prior to the introduction of Android weren't exactly able to meet Googles needs. Especially as the move from the traditional Desktop to Mobile gathers pace

  6. Sure, keep Google at arms pace. I use gmail for somethings and not others and one of the big things I like about the Wave thing is the idea of building my own infra so it’s under my control without having to rely upon Googles service.With regards to quality control, that’s the responsibility of the manufacturer as well as Google. HTC has worked hard to ensure that everything works together, Android, the hardware and their own software. Just throwing it in a heap isn’t going to magically produce the next greatest thing in mobile computing.I agree, Google is a commercial organisation, out to make money, but I think they’re doing a pretty good job of doing that and doing the Open Source thing at the same time.

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