How Open is Google when it comes to Android?


With ongoing issues with Oracle and Google over Java being used in the “Open Source” Android, one thing strikes me right in front. Is Android really as open as the other open source softwares?

I read an article some days ago about Samsung electronics unable to give its customers the Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) update to Samsung Galaxy S as promised, which by far is one of the most sold Android phones to date. The reason was that the bridge between the two versions of Android (Gingerbread and ICS) was too much that upgrade wasn’t as graceful as it expected. ICS was released by Google as long back as October 2011, and how many popular phones we see today do really have ICS? Of course, the ICS phones we see today are the newly released ones, like HTC One Series. The older phones, even though high-end and fully complying with ICS requirements (like Galaxy S), are stuck with Gingerbread. Like Apple features graceful update process of iOS on its devices, why can’t Google do it even after boasting Android as Open Source?

Here is how I see it. Google’s acquisition of Motorola has everything to do with this. Google’s Galaxy Nexus that almost copied its design and architecture from Samsung Galaxy S is fully compatible and loaded with ICS while original Galaxy S is not! Ring the bells? Yes. Google wants its monopoly in mobile market crushing other players like Samsung and HTC obliging them to comply to its standards and making them play the way it wants. Business wise Google is right to run the way it wants, but where is the spirit of Open Source?
By the way, it bewilders me that the Android ICS source code needs workstations no lesser than 16 GB RAM to build! I’m really cynical about this. More than twice as much Gingerbread needed!

I’ll ask again. How open is Google when it comes to Android? Time already has the answer.

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