Does Android Dream of Developer Sheep, Redux
With the release of the first device to support Google’s Android mobile operating system less than a day away and a second already in development at Motorola (MOT), Google is making good on a promise it made when Android debuted: to make the platform available under a progressive, developer-friendly open-source license. This morning Google (GOOG) and the Open Handset Alliance announced the Android Open Source Project, which allows anyone to use, modify and redistribute the Android source code under the Apache license. By doing so, Google hopes to build a thriving developer community around the platform, one that will use it to build an ecosystem of applications and new devices. “Our plan is a launching point for a much more vibrant open-source community,” said Rich Miner, vice president of Google’s mobile platforms business. “For the past almost four years, this has been a large effort between Google and our partners. There have been a lot of people working on the code, but that’s going to be multiplied by several orders of magnitude.”
Of course, there’s a danger in that: code forking. With so many developers working on Android’s code–all with unique views of what it is and what it should do–there’s a possibility that the platform could fragment into multiple versions spread across innumerable vertical devices. A confusing prospect for consumers. Google aims to combat this with a nonfragmentation agreement that asks developers not to “modify [the Android code] in noncompatible ways.” While that should prevent some developers from forking Android’s code, it surely won’t prevent all of them.
[Image Credit: Rich Dellinger]