Why open code is irrelevant to Android's success

Vendors, developers, and users are embracing Android for what it delivers, not how Google delivers the code

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Gurley argues that Google is attempting to "take any layer that lives between themselves and the consumer and make it free (or even less than free)." This is incredibly important to handset vendors and carriers who have an incentive to use and promote Android over alternatives. The fact that Google shares mobile search revenue with its handset partners makes Android not just free, but a profit center, which is hard for a vendor to ignore regardless of the openness of the platform itself.

As mobile handset alliance members, these vendors have access to Android source code well ahead of third-party developers. As such, the openness of Android is a distant secondary issue, if at all. These vendors are concerned, however, with developers building applications for the platform and end-user adoption.

Application developers may care about Android's openness, but establishing and maintaining a large user base and the ease with which the platform enables developers to deliver applications, and pay for directly or indirectly, are much larger concerns. Android's ever growing vendor support and Google's investments to close the feature/function gap to Apple iOS are the key to developer success on the platform, making openness an afterthought.

Those who should care the most about openness --users -- continue to select products that optimize user experience over openness; it's an interesting development, considering that the traditional PC provides a highly customizable environment with the flexibility to mix and match hardware with operating systems. One would have expected mobile buyers to seek this same level of hardware and software flexibility in their "post-PC" device purchases.

Continue preparing for increased Android usage in your enterprise
Handset vendors, carriers, application developers, and users have made it easier for Google to minimize its focus on openness with an eye toward delivering functionality simply by embracing Android with enthusiasm.

Regardless of whether openness ever truly mattered to the potential success of Android, the question has become increasingly irrelevant with each market share percentage that Android captures. As an IT decision maker, your best bet is to continue to prepare for an influx of Android-based devices, personal and company-purchased, in your network, sooner than you may have hoped.

Follow me on Twitter at SavioRodrigues. I should state: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions."

This article, "Why open code is irrelevant to Android's success," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Savio Rodrigues' Open Sources blog and follow the latest developments in open source at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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