Will the Chromium OS remain open source?

Summary:I would dearly love to be wrong on this, but I don't see another way for Google to maximize the value of the buy.

In the wake of Google's purchase of BumpTop, with its unique user interface, and BumpTop's decision to close down its work on Windows and the Mac OS, the question needs to be asked.

Will the Chromium OS remain open source?

As you can see from the video above, this has always been the promise. The Chromium source code is freely available. Just like Linux, on which it is based.

(Our Zach Whittaker saw BumpTop, which debuted at the 2007 TED Conference, last year, and was very impressed.)

The promise of open source has always been that it stirs open innovation, and no company believes in that more firmly than Google. But when Google needed something to get it over Apple, which had sued HTC over its use of multitouch, it bought the solution.

So now why should it share? Especially with Apple, which based its Mac OS on Linux.

Google launched the first version of Chromium late last year, but while Android has proven popular with manufacturers, no one has yet announced any plans to use Chromium. Some blogs, in fact, are already speculating that Android is the final destination for BumpTop. not Chromium at all.

Which leads to the larger question of differentiation. How does Google turn Chromium into something unique, something separate from Android, with its own value proposition? Especially if the Android team can just grab cool, new stuff like BumpTop and throw it onto a phone?

How does Google control BumpTop so it remains a unique experience? How does it keep out all the "baby Bumps" that may kluge parts of it together with other stuff and build incompatible, even proprietary, knock-offs?

The only answer to those questions is to close the code. I would dearly love to be wrong on this, but I don't see another way for Google to maximize the value of the buy.

Tell me I'm wrong. (And tell me why.)

Topics: Open Source


Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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