A blog for the enterprise open source community
Is Android FUD a forebearer of Linux-like success?Jay Lyman, March 30, 2011 @ 7:12 pm ET
Time is flying by so fast, it sure doesn’t seem like it was last year I was blogging about how Android is for real. Well, let me reiterate … Android is for real. The reason I say that and stress that is despite its success, we see a variety of legal threats, accusations and actual lawsuits flying at Android as fast as it is growing in the market.
Still, we seem to be able to fairly easily find agreement among vendors, developers and users that Android development is not slowing down, that legal maneuvering will not pave a path to success or that any ruling or action will take Android-based phones out of consumers’ hands. This is not to say Android doesn’t face significant challenges: real fragmentation and version overload; a software development pace that may be too fast for handset makers or consumers; innovation from rivals such as Apple, HP, Research In Motion, Microsoft and others, including ones we may not yet be considering a threat, but which may find an improvement or refinement. This could be as simple as serving as the more open alternative.
I’ve seen some criticisms of Android and Google indicating it is clear or should be clear what is open source and what is not. I would argue, however, that is has become quite unclear what is open source and what is not in all circumstances and particularly in smartphones, as we covered in our special report Mobility Matters two-and-a-half long years ago. There’s no denying the constant pressure for Android and Google and others in the ecosystem to be true to the spirit and letter of open source and its licenses, however painful, serves to strengthen its open source aspects. However, the statements and signals crying foul against Android are quite similar to the complaints, threats and, yes, FUD we saw swirling around Linux a decade ago. And let’s not forget the lesson of open enough, which becomes even more significant given cloud computing and the capabilities it is extending to smartphones and other mobile devices.
Bottom line, developers, handset manufacturers and consumers are heavily more focused on new releases every six months than who is suing whom in the IP infringement claim game and software patent ‘system.’ To predict where Android is headed and what is likely to happen as a result of the FUD, we can look at Linux, which emerged stronger, more competitive and more enterprise-ready after the infamous SCO threats and lawsuits.
I have no fear that Android development and innovation will slow down as a result of legal claims, suits or threats. I have no uncertainty that new features, functionality, applications and development will be the drivers in the market and I have no doubt that the companies, cash and consumers on the line will keep things incredibly interesting over the next several years. No FUD here. Nothing to see, move on.
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