Google Finally Gives Up the Ghost – Er, Source
Google's Linux-based Android mobile phone platform is the talk of the town this week, as just about everything heretofore unseen makes a grand public appearance.
First out of the gate was the missing component that had formed the largest source of consternation for the Open Source community: the Android source itself. Billed as an Open Source project from its inception, until yesterday the source code for Android was conspicuously missing. This, tied with snafus like the July email that accidentally revealed that the search giant had been holding out on community developers, providing updated SDKs only to Google Developer Challenge participants, had caused many in the community to question Google's commitment to making Android an Open Source offering. The matter has been settled, however, as Google has now provided the full source code as a free download, under both the metaphorical and a quite literal "Open Source banner." Potential downloaders are cautioned, however, that just because the device is small doesn't mean the code will be — you'll need 6GB of free space to build the 2.1GB download.
The long-awaited source wasn't the only thing to see the light of day on Tuesday, however, as the Android Market — Google's home for community-developed Android applications — also went online, ahead of the Wednesday launch of the first Googlephone itself. The market, which already hosts 50+ applications just waiting for early-adopters, is open to any community developer willing to fork up the $25 registration fee. According to Google, beginning in 2009, developers will be able to profit from their creations, receiving 70% of the takings from any application sold through the Android Market. Google isn't holding out 'till then to recoup their funds, though — there simply isn't an infrastructure to handle any paid applications just yet. Google won't be profiting once there is, either, as the remaining 30% of revenue not turned over to developers will be passed on to the carriers themselves, a nice incentive to stock Android over Apple's iPhone or RIM's Blackberry. Those curious about what the market offers can take a peek at a special "showcase" Google has put together.
Of course, the biggest star in this week's Google Parade is the debut of the first Googlephone itself, the T-Mobile G1. Offered up in a sneak-preview a month ago, the G1 finally became available to customers in 3G-enabled cities beginning today. What, though, would a grand opening be without a pre-opening product leak, and that's just what happened last night at T-Mobile's Market Street location in San Francisco, where around 150 anxious early-adopters waited, in some cases upwards of seven hours, to pick up the very first publicly available G1s. Those who didn't grab one last night can pick up their very own shiny example at a local T-Mobile store, or online at T-Mobile's G1 site. (Note: Be prepared for the site's multimedia to start on-load, including sound.)
Finally, where would we be without the rumor mill, always pumping out the latest and greatest possible-truths? The hot story on the gossip train — until yesterday — was that T-Mobile was already working on a G2, even before the G1 was in the public's hot little hands. There were even convincing mock-ups being bandied about, spawning all sorts of scuttlebutt about the upcoming model. As is so often the case, though, the truth was much less sensational, as it was revealed that the photos were nothing more than a user's dreams, having been cooked up in Photoshop by a member of the Android forum to show what he would like the G2 to be.
This, of course, doesn't change the truth that new Android phones are on the way, with Motorola — among others — announcing that they are hard at work on a device intended to cut the legs out from under HTC, makers of the G1. The specs given for the Motorola creation make it sound quite a bit like the G1 — touch-screen, QWERTY keyboard — but will sell for $150, $30 less than the G1 after rebates. It's not yet known whether the phone will use the GSM system — used by T-Mobile's G1, as well as carriers worldwide — or if Motorola will look to team with Verizon or Sprint, both of which use CDMA.
We leave you with Linux Journal's own Marcel Gangé — author of the award-winning and reader-favorite Cooking with Linux column — who shared his thoughts on the Android festivities on his "occasiodaily" news show, WFTL Bytes: