Thursday, March 31, 2011

Google Taking Back Control of Android Is a Good Thing; For Open-Source Guys, I Told You So

I totally expected Google's recent move to rein in Android development and keep fragmentation (yes, it is a major problem, why else would Google want to piss off the people who had made Android such a success and possibly have the Justice Department involved) from potentially damaging the mobile platform any further.  Am I upset?

Initially, I was a bit.  No any more.  Frankly, Google's move is a good thing.  Basically, Google opened up Android and gave it the perception of being an open platform and it worked.  It probably will have the biggest share of the mobile market in a couple of years.  However, it's how that market will look like that concerns Google.

Now that it has established Android as a dominant mobile platform, it can start making changes.  Open it was not and, as far as Google is concerned, who cares now that many of the device makers as well as users rely on Android for their businesses and mobile needs respectively.  Who else is Motorola going to turn to?  It's already said WP7 isn't an option for them.

Samsung has nothing but a struggle home-grown OS that will go no where  WP7?  Sure, with Microsoft's track record of updates?  HTC started off on Android and it's in the exact same shoe as Samsung.  Heck, this is the same for every other Android manufacturer.  They can complain to the Justice Department for all they want but at the end of the day, they want to stay on Google's good side.  

The wild wide West days in the Android market are over.  There's a new sheriff in town.  (I don't know if Schmidt leaving and Page as the new CEO has something to do with this or not.)

From now on, every change will have to go through Google. And Google has gone as far as to withhold Android 3 or Honeycomb, the tablet version of the OS because it didn't want 3rd parties screwed up it with tweaks.   As an Android fan, I think that's good thing.  

But let me be clear.  From the beginning, I knew the open-sourced crowd for suckered in by the claims of openness.  It was the undeniable walled garden of iOS that has this crowd foolishly and blindly think Android is anything but open.

 I'm not sure Google can continue falsely claim that Android is an open platform.  

As a developer, you like this. Probably.  Google has a good record on this and its latest move shouldn't change a thing for you.  

As a mobile warrior, if anything, this is a positive development.  Average Joe or Jane isn't going to notice a thing but maybe that he or she won't get fooled into buying a tablet installed with a smartphone OS rather than the tablet version in the first place.

It's going to be scary for some people.  Anti-Android/Google folks will get fuel and ammunition about this but at the end of the day, I like the notion that if I buy an Android phone or tablet, I can potentially get upgrades from Google in a timely fashion, a good thing.

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