Is It Okay for Android to Be "Almost" Open Source?

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 20, 2011

This week marked the arrival of the "Ice Cream Sandwich" latest version of the Android mobile operating system on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone, which looks great and is getting great reviews. However, the arrival of the latest version of Android on the phone without a full release of the open source code is raising alarm bells. These alarm bells are familiar ones, of course, as we've covered many times. Google already responded to criticisms related to it releasing the Honeycomb version of Android to select tablet device makers before releasing the open code. Now, some are crying foul about the selective moves that Google seems to be making with Ice Cream Sandwich.

Android Software Engineer Jean-Baptiste Querue has a post up where he supplies links for "the GPL parts [of Ice Cream Sandwich] that are in the SDK (along with a few associated files), and they're not enough to build the whole IceCreamSandwich for a device." In response to his post, one user wrote:

"Is this a just for now thing, and the rest of it will be opened, or
will it be like Honeycomb where the parts that aren't GPL won't be

And Queru responded: "At the moment I don't have anything to say on that subject."

Hmm, back in January, in the post "Does Android Have a Forked Future?" we wondered whether Android was going to be released in future versions in fully open source fashion, and now that Google is entering the smartphone business via its Motorola Mobility acquisition, there are even more reasons to wonder about the issue. It seems that if Google is committed to a fully open strategy, its communications about new Android versions should be open and forthcoming as well.

In announcing the Motorola Mobility acquisition, Google officials made assurances that they are committed to an open Android mission. Let's hope Google sticks to that, because a primarily open strategy was what made Android achieve so much success so quickly.