Open source first, ask questions later

Open source first, ask questions later

Summary: Just as the Internet takes friction out of the distribution and development process, open source for Google removes friction from the business process.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Open Source, Google
6

Once again, Google has bought something only to open source it.

This time it's ReMail, first acquired, then put on Google Code as open source under the Apache 2.0 license. (It previously did the same thing with DocVerse.)

ReMail was more efficient in terms of system resources than Apple's own mail.app, it offered full text searching, and it had other neat features, like autocomplete.

Founder Gabor Cselle now lists himself as just a software engineer at Google, the rest of the development team has also scattered, and Apple has taken ReMail off its app store.

What's going on? Well, it's not a bug it's a feature.

For Google, open source simplifies vendor relationships. You can join the Google software ecosystem without signing a contract. You can exploit Google projects like Android and ReMail and profit from them, because they're under an Apache license.

Just as the Internet takes friction out of the distribution and development process, open source for Google removes friction from the business process.

Why did this not happen before? One reason is you leave a lot of "money on the floor" by doing this. The other reason, of course, is that Google can afford it.

As I have written here many times, Google's advantage lies in its infrastructure. It is the low-cost producer of full Internet infrastructure. This includes more than bandwidth. It includes all the tools and hosting needed to deliver Internet transactions.

This advantage can be exploited against any rival. In this case it is being exploited against Apple.

Until someone is willing to try and match this advantage, and even the phone companies seem for now unwilling to even try, Google will exploit this advantage against all comers.

These advantages lean in favor of anyone with ideas, but they also put a limit on the degree to which you can profit from those ideas. It doesn't matter whether you're a lone programmer in your pajamas or Steve Jobs -- Google's advantages both enable you to bring your ideas to market and squeeze your potential profits like the view of buildings you see on Google Earth.

It's easy for Google not to be evil in such an atmosphere. There is no one for it to be evil to.

But it does make open source start to feel a bit like Orwell's Animal Farm. All pigs are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Topics: Open Source, Google

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

6 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • FOSS rocks, closed source sucks!

    [i]ReMail was more efficient in terms of system resources than Apple?s own mail.app, it offered full text searching, and it had other neat features, like autocomplete.[/i]
    That's exactly why we need to get rid of M$ and apple.
    Linux Geek
  • Message has been deleted.

    iloveyou01583
  • So, Dana...

    are you putting Google down for leveling the playing field?

    Or are you mocking all the people with creative ideas who want to receive the attribution themselves rather than give it to a corporation that exploits their ideas and creativity? The corporation financially gains for its shareholders who apparently lack ideas or creativity and "rewards" the creators with nothing more than a paycheck and no attribution.

    At least with open source, the creators can create or modify GPL licensed property and go into business as entrepreneurs where they receive attribution and profit from their efforts.

    However, please do not pretend there are no income-providing jobs in open source. You know full well what your partner, Paula Rooney, wrote (2010, February 18) in her blog entitled, "Linux, open source driving smartphone revolution" (retrieved March 10, 2010, from ZDNet, http://blogs.zdnet.com/open-source/?p=5896).

    So, Dana, what is your point with this blog? Just pontificating?
    Isocrates
  • RE: Open source first, ask questions later

    I just love the title. Made me read the whole article.

    And, I really appreciate your view point. I like your insight about Google's major infrastructure advantage. Interesting perspective....

    It may be accurate. But you better believe Google fears the next "Google".
    gnostication
  • Message has been deleted.

    efsane
  • Message has been deleted.

    zakkiromi