Report: Open source Android mobile platform not very open at all

Report: Open source Android mobile platform not very open at all

Summary: New research shows that Android is not so open for being an open source mobile platform.

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Android might be the envy of Google's mobile competitors, at least based on a letter penned yesterday by the Goog's top lawyer.

But a new study shows that Android is the least open of all of the open source mobile platforms. Market research analyst firm VisionMobile recently published a new report in which it introduced the "Open Governance Index," described as a "new approach to measuring the 'openness' of software projects."

VisionMobile studied and tracked the following eight open source mobile platforms over a period of six months: Android, MeeGo, Linux, Qt, WebKit, Mozilla, Eclipse and Symbian. To test just how open these open source platforms are, VisionMobile outlined a variety of metrics based on these four pillars:

1. Access: availability of the latest source code, developer support mechanisms, public roadmap, and transparency of decision-making 2. Development: the ability of developers to influence the content and direction of the project 3. Derivatives: the ability for developers to create and distribute derivatives of the source code in the form of spin-off projects, handsets or applications. 4. Community: a community structure that does not discriminate between developers

Based on the graphic below, it's quite easy to see how far behind Android placed against its competitors.

While it looks like a disappointment, Liz Laffan, a research partner at VisionMobile, wrote that perhaps being open source doesn't really matter as much to Android's success:

Android would not have risen to its current ubiquity were it not for Google’s financial muscle and famed engineering team. More importantly, Google has made Android available at zero cost, since Google’s core business is not software or search, but driving eyeballs to ads. As is now well understood, Google’s strategy has been to subsidise Android such that it can deliver cheap handsets and low-cost wireless Internet access in order to drive more eyeballs to Google’s ad inventory.

Yet, VisionMobile still asserted that its "research suggests that platforms that are most open will be most successful in the long-term." So maybe we'll start seeing Eclipse on more mobile devices in the near future?

[via Ars Technica]

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Topics: Apple, Android, Google, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones

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12 comments
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  • People are getting "open" fatigue (nt)

    nt
    LBiege
    • RE: Report: Open source Android mobile platform not very open at all

      @LBiege
      1+
      Ram U
    • RE: Report: Open source Android mobile platform not very open at all

      @LBiege Android isn't as open as it should be because they let handset manufacturers cook in whatever additions they want. If they would enforce a basic ROM layout and refuse the "Android" label to anything not following such without adding a bunch of unnecessary junk then it would work fine and be MUCH MORE open.
      ZazieLavender
  • RE: Report: Open source Android mobile platform not very open at all

    Well, for that matter most of the large open source systems are not 100% open. And people who blindly think FOSS is great have no clue about this except the core people in the FOSS movement.
    Ram U
    • RE: Report: Open source Android mobile platform not very open at all

      @Rama.NET
      A claim with no supporting facts.
      daikon
  • RE: Report: Open source Android mobile platform not very open at all

    All Android needs to be is the most Open Mobile OS. Pure Linux is always going to be more Open, but let's compare it to it's real competitors, that is iPhone and Windows Phone which are NOT EVEN OPEN. Symbian, will it USED to be Open, has closed back down and is likely going away (Ditto with Meego also from Nokia) unless they get some help from an interested 3rd Party. Android is most likely as Open as it needs to be at the moment, if it has any hopes of keeping fragmentation in check.
    jkohut
  • And there you have it.

    "perhaps being open source doesn?t really matter as much to Android?s success"

    But it does say volumes about the company that uses "Open" as one of their main qualities and reasons for using their products.

    It does say volumes about a company that promoted the meme that "Open" is something akin to freedom and all that is good and pure. "Don't be evil" The irony in this moto is heavy and one wonders if it as indeed meant to be ironic to those within.

    We are all being taken for fools. Google is turning out to be the worst kind of company. They take from everyone to forward themselves and loath to pay their fair share back.

    They have taken the Logo T-shirt to the next level which is fine, but for Gods sake don't be evil about it with dishonesty and stealing. I swear that level of greed will be their undoing. Which is too bad, I really liked Google at one time.
    CowLauncher
    • RE: Report: Open source Android mobile platform not very open at all

      @CowLauncher Sigh. You do realize how much open source code Google produces, don't you? You do know about the Google Summer Of Code, don't you, that pays students to develop open source code? With enemies like these, who needs friends?
      jgm@...
  • RE: Report: Open source Android mobile platform not very open at all

    Another example that proves the hypocrisy of google.
    owlnet
    • RE: Report: Open source Android mobile platform not very open at all

      @owlnet
      A claim with no supporting facts.
      daikon
  • Google is open -- when it suits them

    Google is the great champion of "open" -- but only as and when it serves their own narrow corporate agenda. (Let me know when I can get a link to download the source code for Google's web search.)<br><br>Google played a big part in making "open" trendy. It was part of their strategy, which failed, to overtake and destroy Microsoft in their core markets. In the old days, Microsoft had a reputation for closed-source. So backing "open" for certain things was one easy way for Google and their loyal fan communities to bash MS. It worked, too -- but it also backfired. MS has now taken the best elements of the open philisophy and become a new and better company as a result.<br><br>But the cold hard reality is that "open" is not always automatically the best way, in fact it comes with important dangers and disadvantages. It's no wonder, therefore, than "open" is now going out of fashion.
    Tim Acheson
    • RE: Report: Open source Android mobile platform not very open at all

      @Tim Acheson quote "It's no wonder, therefore, than "open" is now going out of fashion." - this is only the case when applying the fundamentals of 'open' to business models which in general require some form of regulation over what they release to be able to control business ambitions, their products and to provide a clear message to the end users what gives their product value and worth.
      gthink