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Developers ignore Symbian's derision of Android

Symbian wants us to believe that Google's mobile operating system isn't really open source, but it first needs to convince open-source developers.

Symbian has dismissed Google's open-source credentials for Android as merely "marketing." Open-source developers, however, are much less cavalier, finding substance in Android, according a new report from Black Duck Software.

Hype is apparently in the eye of the beholder, and asking Symbian to gauge the merits of Google Android may be like asking the fox to be a judge for the hens' beauty contest.

Black Duck's data comes from analysis of 185,000 open-source projects from 4,000 different Web sites. It found that while Apple's iPhone has spawned 266 related open-source projects, Google Android is close on its heels with 191. Symbian? In 2008, it helped to birth just 64 open-source projects, falling behind Windows Mobile's 174 projects.

Despite commanding a dominant market share of 46.6 percent in global mobile operating systems, Symbian, which was announced as an open-source project in 2008, has a ways to go before it can nominate itself as the leader in open-source mobile operating systems.

Symbian, then, would do well not to spend time calling the kettle black, as it did when Lee Williams, director of the Symbian Foundation, derided Android as pseudo-open source:

Android is not open. It's a marketing label. It's controlled by Google. It's a pretty label, but I don't think the use of Linux is synonymous with open, and they may have made that mistake of assuming it is.

Maybe, maybe not. But if developers have any say in the matter--developers that are choosing Android over Symbian three times as often--Android may soon be about much more than just Google marketing hype.

Follow me on Twitter at mjasay.