Skyhook Wireless on Android’s Openness

Keep Skyhook Wireless’s lawsuit against Google in mind when considering Andy Rubin’s protestations regarding Android’s openness:

In complete disregard of its common-law and statutory obligations, and in direct opposition to its public messaging encouraging open innovation, Google wielded its control over the Android operating system, as well as other Google mobile applications such as Google Maps, to force device manufacturers to use its technology rather than that of Skyhook, to terminate contractual obligations with Skyhook, and to otherwise force device manufacturers to sacrifice superior end user experience with Skyhook by threatening directly or indirectly to deny timely and equal access to evolving versions of the Android operating system and other Google mobile applications.

Put another way, there is something called “Android” that truly is open source, in the “take this and do what you want with it under this standard open source license” way. But that “Android” doesn’t include all sorts of things that we, as users, think of as being part of Android — things like Google Maps, Gmail, Android Market, etc. (and you can’t even call something based on this “Android” unless Google permits you to). None of those things are open in any sense of the word, but all of them are essential aspects of any consumer phone or tablet running Android.

Thursday, 7 April 2011