Richard Gaywood on Apple’s Handling of the Open Source iOS WebKit Source Code

Richard Gaywood:

I think it’s interesting that Google can choose to withhold BSD-licensed Android source code and be widely pilloried in the tech press, whilst Apple has been quietly failing to meet the spirit and possibly the letter of its GPL obligations on iOS releases for years without anyone raising a stink about it.

That’s easily explained. The way Apple is treating the LGPL WebKit source may well be worse than Google’s withholding of the Android 3.0 source, insofar as Apple seems to be clearly violating the requirements of the license, whereas Google is only violating, let’s call it, say, the spirit of openness. But Google brags, often and repeatedly, about how open it is. And specifically with regard to Android, they attribute the success of the platform to its inherent openness. “Open” is to Android as “magic” is to iOS. So when Google does something that is quite obviously not open — such as, say, withholding the source code to Android 3.0 — it strikes many of us as hypocritical. Whereas no one is the least bit surprised when Apple does something “not open”. Google hypocrisy is interesting; Apple secrecy, not so much.

Conversely, a crummy UI or experience in a new Apple product is more interesting than a crummy UI/experience in a Google product. Apple un-magic is interesting.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011