Google's open-source mobile platform: the best of the blog chatter

Yes, it's open source. Yes, it's cool.

There are so many good (and bad) things to say about Google's decision to open up the mobile market with an open-source mobile software platform that I'll just let others do the talking:

Sergey Brin (via OpenDotDot):

As I look at it I reflect, ten years ago I was sitting at a graduate student cubicle. We were able to build incredible things. There was a set of tools that allowed us to do that. It was all open technologies. It was based on Linux, GNU, Apache. All those pieces and many more allowed us to do great things and distribute it to the world. That is what we are doing today, to allow people to innovate on today's mobile devices. Today's mobile devices are more powerful than those computers I was working on just ten years ago. I cannot wait to see what today's innovators will build.

And they will all build on open-source technologies, just as Google has. Why? Because reinventing the platform wheels, piece by piece, vendor by vendor, is inane and inefficient.

Jonathon Schwartz:

I'd...like Sun to be the first platform software company to commit to a complete developer environment around the platform, as we throw Sun's NetBeans developer platform for mobile devices behind the effort. We've obviously done a ton of work to support developers on all Java based platforms, and were pleased to add Google's Android to the list.

Fabrizio Capobianco:

Today, I am definitely not alone touting mobile open source :-) Big giant Google announced the Open Handset Alliance. A group of powerful companies, coming together to build a mobile open source infrastructure, called Android.

It is just awesome. Welcome Google to the mobile open source world. We needed someone with weight to push this effort to the next level. Open networks, Open source, Open devices. That's the future of mobile. We are just at the beginning.

But all that Googles is not gold, as Dana Blankenhorn reminds us:

This is the Paris Hilton of product announcements. All those looks (they say), all that money, but what's it all about, really, other than hype? In the case of Ms. Hilton, the answer was not much. At some point the markets are going to tell Google it should either put up or shut up. Ads on a search engine just aren't that sexy. (Again, like Ms. Hilton.)

Google is not directly challenging anyone here. It's not putting any serious money on the table, it's putting nothing at risk.

Sascha Segan:

No, there's no gPhone. There will never be a gPhone. Google and a passel of wireless partners announced their Android software platform today, and it's basically an attempt to put Linux on mobile phones with an attractive API that will grab a lot of software developers and handset makers.

For U.S. wireless consumers looking for a bit of fresh air, it means absolutely nothing.

That's because manufacturers and carriers are free to use Android to make crippled, locked-down phones full of proprietary, closed software.

Finally, Stephen O'Grady ponders the mix of GPL and Apache (which is not the big deal that the Free Software Foundation would have us think), and asks "How?":

The one I really can't figure out is this: how did Google (and friends) manage to build a "complete mobile phone software stack" built on the GPL licensed "open Linux Kernel" that's itself licensed under the "commercial-friendly" Apache v2 license that protects would-be adopters from the "from the 'viral infection' problem." Before you ask, yes that's a direct quote, and yes I think using it is an exceptionally poor decision. I expected more from you, Google.

I guess I don't see the conflict here. At all. The stack runs on top of Linux. Linux is GPL. The stack is not. The two need not be mutually contradictory, just as proprietary applications run happily on Linux servers.

But that's another blog post.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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