Did Google Forget the "Open" in Open Source?

Google's Android platform for mobile phones — one of the hottest mobile Linux offerings in the work — suffered what appears to be a major setback Monday, after Google's Developer Advocate blew the lid off the internal Android secret stash a la the Eli Lily legal team.

So, what's the big secret? Apparently, Google has been holding out on the Android community developers, leaving them in the lurch with a badly outdated SDK — while they provided shiny updated versions to the developers participating in their Android Developer Challenge. Under non-disclosure agreements. How did all this become public? David McLaughlin, Developer Advocate at Google, apparently failed to check his address book, and sent an announcement intended for Challenge participants only to the public Android list.

Quite understandably, the community developers are more than a tad miffed to find out not only that Google has had updated versions and wasn't telling them, but perhaps more so, that they've taken to using tactics frighteningly reminiscent of some very un-open players in the field. Google has yet to comment on the matter officially, though McLaughlin apologized for the mix-up in what appears to be being taken as an unofficial confirmation. Interestingly enough, some Android developers have announced their departure from Android development to begin developing applications for Apple's iPhone. Obviously the best way to protest this step towards closure is to jump ship to the platform with the most restrictions you can find.

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Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.

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