Why Google loves Open Source

Marvin the android by kertong

Marvin the android by kertong

As (one of?) the first developer of an open source operating system for mobile phones, at least at a large scale, Google put a lot of effort into something that is available for free to anyone. Cnet was asking Andy Rubin, responsible for mobile platforms, to explain why. I found his answers so interesting that I want to wrap up some bits here:

Rubin/Google says they will profit from open access in the end (the more searching the more advertising exposure). “There’s a natural connection between open source and the advertising business model: Open source is basically a distribution strategy” with no barrier for adoption and thus maximizing outreach.

This is the definition of openness: it’s not just open source, it’s the freedom to get the information that you’re actually looking for.

This reads like from the Hacker Manifesto! It’s worth noting that Google by its sheer size can be a threat to this ideal…

They think they would loose more revenue by attempting to lock up their services just for their customers than by sharing an as open as possible internet with their competitiors:

We’re confident enough in our advertising business and our ability to help people find information that we don’t somehow demand they use Google. If somebody wants to use Android to build a Yahoo phone, great.

With Google not know as being overly philantropic, this makes a pretty strong argument against walled gardens, from a business point of view. It appears to be heavily based on Google’s dominant position in the (ad) market, however.

Android at Google's HQ by secretlondon123

Android at Google’s HQ by secretlondon123

Some nice side effects: Having a cross device operating system makes it easy for third party developers to get their services onto various devices–which will make Android more attractive, again. And it’s a great thing for software companies to provide a more consistent user experience (so designers should like it).

Good to know: In Asia, stylus input is often prefered over fingers because writing Asian letters is easier and more accurate this way.

thanks to fee for twittering this.

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Jaiku is dead – hail to the new Jaiku?

This news is already a couple of months old, but it reached me now and struck me: Jaiku got abandoned by Google.

atmasphere is shedding a tear

atmasphere is shedding a tear

I have to admit that I didn’t use Jaiku all that much, basically because of a lacking base of “followers” or–even more important–people to follow. Back then, I was “following” a guy I got to know at ars electronica, and even though we were pretty far away and didn’t exchange that much on other channels, I had the impression of knowing a little bit of his life, some of his feelings, his overall mood. All created by those tiny, subjective, and instant status messages (he was also posting pretty frequently, which is a precondition but also comes by itself once everyone is addicted…). I didn’t get this experience out of any other channel. And it became my standard argument why “those private and boring details of someone’s daily life” are actually pretty valuable.

When I logged in today (6 months after my last message…), I wanted to add someone’s twitter feed. Adding other channels to your stream was actually one of the big pluses of Jaiku over Twitter (Robert Gaal has 3 more)! But all the cool options were gone (example), no other feeds to read nor to add, no nothing. Just the simple message box (which, at least, is still working).

Then I checked the phone client, which was actually much more than that: It was a replacement of your phonebook, giving you quite a bit of status information about your contacts. You could even see whether the other one was using her/his phone currently, so you didn’t have to call in vain or talk to the answering machine instead.

This feature is missing as well (you could operate Jaiku even through SMS, but I get this service is no longer supported, either…). Btw: All of this came out of a Finnish research project a couple of years ago.

On the other hand, Jaiku is now Open Source! And this means, anyone could start a similiar service. Which is great (Jaiku founder Jyri says). Unfortunately, it appears to me, that the spirit of Jaiku was also based on an substantial amount of hardware and money that allowed to run the service smoothly and provided, e.g., to receive status updates via SMS for free. So, it might be more a some- than an anyone who could create “JaiTwo”.

I’ll try to keep an eye on the great Jaiku team, as they are up to something new for sure. Meanwhile, I’ll have to turn to the twitterverse…

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