The Asterisk On Open

I alway enjoyed when Gruber gets to have a field day on a specific story. Google’s pulling in the reigns of Android to try and reclaim their platform is one of those stories.

The reason people like John and myself get riled up by stories like Google’s bait-and-switch is because it goes completely against the marketing campaigns, the keynote speeches and the ideals Google has put forth for their platform since it launched. I don’t fault Google for wanting to eliminate the fragmentation and odd customizations that carriers and handset makers are doing.1 I fault them for crossing their fingers behind their backs every time they uttered the ‘O’ word.

You cannot pound your fists on a table year-over-year about how open you are and then decide to place an asterisk next to it because you don’t like the direction it is going. Most people knew Google never built Android for altruistic reasons, and to save us from a future of one man, one phone, one carrier. They built it as a platform to distribute mobile advertising on and to have more control over how and where they are displayed.

‘Open’ was a convenient buzzword to use when Apple and iOS were going through the growing pains of the App Store. What no one bothered to tell the Googlers is that the openness of a platform has never sold a single phone. The openness of Android, iOS, WebOS or Windows Phone 7 doesn’t matter to end users. If it did, Linux on the desktop would have been a hit a decade ago and Linux Journal would have to find a new cover topic for their annual “This Is The Year!” issue.

iOS may not be ‘open’, but at least Apple makes it abundantly clear with their ‘take it or leave it’ approach. I would much rather deal with the closed, no nonsense vendor than the one screaming from the top of a mountain “open*, when it’s convenient.”

  1. They should have had those stipulations in place from day one.

About Justin

Justin Williams is the Crew Chief of Second Gear, makers of Glassboard. He writes about consumer technology, running a bootstrapped software business, and more from Denver, Colorado.

Follow @justin on Twitter or get new articles via @carpeaqua.