Android to Offer a FOSS-Friendly Marketplace
We've been keeping an eye on Google's Android phone project as it progresses towards release this fall. Yesterday another key piece of the support services behind Android was announced, and this one looks like a win from the open source point of view: anyone will be able to offer Android software via a free Android Market.
According to a posting on the Android Developers Blog, Android Market will be a "user-driven content distribution system." They envision an open market, with developers make applications available, and end users supplying quality control via a rating system - something that Google has plenty of experience with in other arenas. The process for distributing Android software sounds quite simple:
- Register as a merchant
- Upload and describe content
- Publish your content for distribution
Contrast this with the torturous process for getting software on to the iPhone platform, which includes applying for and paying for a developer account, supplying extensive metadata to Apple with each application submission, and waiting an indeterminate amount of time to see whether your application is approved for distribution. Google is clearly counting on an open code ecosystem to help Android thrive - and in so doing, making it simple for free and open source applications to be distributed on an equal footing with any other.
In fact, FOSS applications may have a slight edge at the Android launch: one thing missing from the announcement is details of the ecommerce side of the platform. Google is guaranteeing to support free application distribution at launch, but actual "market" functionality in the Android Market may come along later.