Different ideas about how mobile operating systems should be made and then marketed are currently circulating around the world. Apple has their idea, Microsoft has the Windows Phone 7 platform and Google has their Android creation. Only one of those classifies itself as “open source”; Android. A new study declares that Android is not as open as many other mobile software.
With plenty of different working editions of mobile operating systems in the hands of users, Android has managed to come out as a leader. Backed up by plenty of dollars and a little copyright craziness, Google has a winner on their hands. It was created with a mix of Linux and Java. Linux is an open source operating system created for the PC while Java is a “write once run anywhere” language currently owned by Oracle.
But something is not right in paradise. With Google being an advocate and member of such groups as “The Software Freedom Law Center”, “The Free Software Foundation” and the “Open Handset Alliance”, their Android platform has fallen behind in real openness. A recent study by Visionmobile has found that in a comparison with six other mobile platforms, Android comes in dead last for the term “openness”. The other platforms are QT, Symbian, Meego, Mozilla, Webkit, and Linux. Linux is used in a few other mobile operating systems such as Meego, WebOS and, as mentioned, Android.
The pressure does not seem to register with Google and its failure to maintain Android as an open source software. It “open source” mantra sounded good at first, but today’s results show that Android is hardly deserving of the title of “open source”. Google itself maintains direct control over the software, sometimes delaying source code to the world, as in the Honeycomb example. The criteria of obtaining the results were derived from the “Open Governance Index”, a brand new way of measuring true software openness.
The news of the decline of openness for the Android system is not a surprise for those who have been tracking it. Visionmobile proclaims that Google maintains unilateral control over the popular mobile operating system. They consider the model to surprisingly be a “closed contributions process model”.
The lack of transparency with the Android system is the proverbial “nail in the coffin”. If Android is going to revive its open source status Google will need to allow the public to view the parameters of compliance testing. Google has been enjoined by litigation from a company named Skyhook for tampering with testing parameters for anticompetitive reasons.