What is Google's Open Source end game?

What is Google’s Open Source End Game?
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor
May 31 is Google Developer Day, Google proudly announces. Why?

At Google, we want to help developers build better web applications. That's why we’ve created APIs and tools to quickly enhance those applications, integrate with Google products and reach millions of users.Whether you’re writing an AJAX application with the Google Web Toolkit, integrating Google services through GData or using Google Maps to create geo applications, we hope you’ll leave Google Developer Day with a new set of building blocks to use in your next project.

So, it is all Googley good?

Dana Blankenhorn believes:

This would not be the open source decade without Google…Google proves you can scale an enormous company in a short time, share code extensively (under a variety of licenses), yet still keep what you need to have private, private. They are Exhibit A for the Fortune 500 about the wisdom of an open source strategy. That may be their most important contribution of all. 

When Google Code was originally announced two years ago, Max Blumberg, a University of London PhD, noted:

It is about time since much of Google is based on open source and Google has so far offered little to this group. 

It is also a wise move for Google to include the developers community as one of its market segments. The more developers that use Google as the search engine of choice in their applications, the more advertising traffic will be generated for the company. 

The Google Code homepage for “Google’s Developer Network” touts 12 options for: 

Enhancing your Web site,
Reaching Google users,
Integrating with Google. 

and, of the 12 options featured, all but one are to support Google services:

Google Maps
Google Search
Google Gadgets
Google Desktop
Goolge KML
Google Toolbar
Google AdWords
Google Base
Google Calendar
Google Checkout 

In an interview last December with Builder.au, Chris DiBona, the open source programs manager at Google, said of Google’s business model interest in Open Source: 

It's all about flexibility for us. The terrific thing about open source software is that we don't have to ask anyone's permission before we make changes to our operating systems. We don't have to ask anyone's permission before we make changes to our databases. We don't have to pay any per client licence fees for these things. This is really important, not just from a cost savings point of view, but from a flexibility and speed point of view.

We get terrific value from being able to do what we like with our computers. Nobody is incentivised to tell us no -- none of our competitors, none of our friends. It's really remarkable. I wish that more companies would recognize this. There is a very real cost to buying software that is well beyond the financial. Buying software means you have to really trust who you interact with, because they know things about you. And they have the power to slow you down, so you have to be very careful when you pick your partners. The great thing about open source is you are your own partner.

A great fit with Google’s no great need to pay partners modus operandi!

ALSO: Google Engineering: The REAL story

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