Google open-source boss comes clean on Android

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by *LTD*, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. *LTD* macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #1
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/07/dibona_on_android/

    Google open-source boss comes clean on Android

    'We could do better,' DiBona tells devs
    By Cade Metz in San Francisco

    Posted in Developer, 7th January 2010 22:05 GMT

    Google open source guru Chris DiBona has acknowledged that the company's freewheeling approach to building a mobile operating system can cause a few headaches for developers, with unfamiliar versions of its Android OS appearing on new phones with little warning. But, he says, that's not developers' main concern - nor Google's.

    "It can be a little hard for developers, and sometimes, they have to adapt," DiBona said Wednesday morning during a taping the Ziff-Davis online TV show Cranky Geeks. Then DiBona held up his own Android phone - a new Nexus One, natch.

    "This is going to sound really cynical, but the only thing that really matters is how many of these we ship - how many Android phones. There is a linear relationship between the number of phones you ship and the number of developers."

    Developers are willing to tweak their apps for different devices, the thinking goes, as long as they can reach a wider audience. "As we ship more phones, there will be more apps. That's it," DiBona says.

    DiBona: mobile is a numbers game

    DiBona's comments echo those made by Eric Chu, Google's group manager for Android mobile platforms, at a conference San Francisco this past November. "Everybody talks about fragmentation as a bad thing, but I think you need to look at it from the perspective of the developer," Chu said. "How much work does the developer have to do to address the fragmentation? If there are a million devices and they're in three fragments, they don't care."

    But unlike Chu, DiBona acknowledges that Google could give developers more warning about what's on the way from new versions of the OS. "We could do better," he told The Reg, when asked about developer roadmaps.

    By contrast, the likes of Microsoft and Apple have NDA programs that allow developers to test a new platform before it officially ships. But Google is moving too fast for such things. Its primary aim is to get as many people as possible building Android phones. And that includes itself.

    When Google unveiled the Nexus One on Tuesday morning, it also unveiled a new incarnation of Android, version 2.1. This version is not yet open sourced - though Google intends to open it up in the near future - and before Tuesday, when Google also began shipping phones to customers, developers had no idea what the new OS would look like.

    DiBono points out that version 2.1 isn't all that different from 2.0. There are a handful of new features and a handful of new apps. Google gives it the same codename as version 2.0: Eclair. But this sort of sudden OS fragmentation, however small, happens repeatedly. When Google, Motorola, and Verizon unveiled the Droid, they also unveiled Android 2.0.

    "Google pushes big snapshots of code to the open source tree only at certain times," mobile developer Jeff Haynie told The Reg. "It's not like, say, Mozilla. Everything Mozilla does is in the open. It's never a big surprise, like 'Hey. Here's this new piece of code called Android 2.0'"

    Android 2.0 hit the web little more than a week before it turned up on live Motorola Droid phones, and Haynie's customers started complaining about broken applications.

    Google strategy also sees certain manufacturers ship new versions of the OS before their competitors. Droid, which just shipped this fall, is still on Android 2.0, though co-Motorola chief executive Sanjay Jha said the company intends to upgrade as soon as possible.

    What's more, Motorola must stomach the fact that Google is now a competitor as well as a partner, selling the HTC-manufactured Nexus One from its own online store. But like Jha himself, DiBona played down Motorola's issues. "We gave Motorola a huge heads up," he said - though he declined to say how much notice the company was given. According to sources speaking with GigaOm, both Verizon and Motorola are "particularly miffed" about Google's decision to sell its own handset.

    Whatever the case, DiBona defends Google's decision to give some partners access to new code before others - and to let them offer their own UI. If it didn't do so, he tells The Reg, handset makers and wireless carriers would choose another OS - or create their own Android fork. That, of course, would lead to still more fragmentation.

    The OS is designed for backwards compatibility and Google offers tools for testing compatibility. As Google's Chu put it: "Differentiation is actually a good thing. That's what the mobile industry is all about," he said.

    "The question is how we can do it in such a way that we can [limit] additional work for developers and give them the right return on investment. We're doing everything we can in the underlying platform, in the SDK, and also in the Android Marketplace to minimize that work."

    But DiBona told us that Google isn't doing everything it can do. Android has no governance model. There's no roadmap telling developers what they can expect down the time. And when we asked about a roadmap, he was honest - and we praise him for it. "We could do better," he said. ®
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #2
    What's coming clean?

    He's just commenting on the state of the world - google world. I'm no google fan by a long shot but the quote you provided seems much ado about nothing.

    Like everything else, including the iPhone and apple. Google is making some mistakes as it enters a new arena. They'll get their footing and things will stabilize. In fact I'd go as far and say that google has been quite successful with the android OS, in both stability/features and marketing. I suspect they will quickly catch up with apple with features and probably market share (since they have multiple carriers)
     
  3. Winni macrumors 68030

    Winni

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    #3
    There are two reasons why Google's Android platform will eventually win the battle for the smartphone market:

    1. Developers.
    2. Developers.

    The Android platform is completely open and nobody is forced to sign any NDAs to write code for it. There are no arbitrary AppStore "rules" and arbitrarily rejected applications.

    Oh, and you actually can write porn apps for Android because of said openness. And we all know how good sex sells. Maybe there's no place for that in Apple's Disney world, but it sure is a good thing that Apple does not represent the world in its entirety. Or, in other words, there is no censorship on the Android platform.

    Android runs on multiple hardware platforms, now even including Tablet -oh, Slate - PCs. You are not tied to ONE vendor.

    Yes, compared to iPhone OS X, Android might not be as beautiful and sexy to use, and maybe even the hardware gadgets are not as beautifully designed, but they are certainly more affordable and there is CHOICE.

    The list of reasons why developers will eventually prefer the Android market is much longer than the few points above, but all of those reasons basically come down to one simple fact: Apple completely fails to understand developers, what makes them tick, what they want, what they love and why they are developing in the first place. Releasing an SDK (under NDA) an adding an AppStore to iTunes simply are not enough on the long run.

    Android will take the place in the mobile market that Windows took in the computer market. As always, Apple will stay in a niche.
     
  4. robj macrumors regular

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    #4
    I don't know how the market works in US, but here in Spain the mobile operators rule the market.

    You buy, not the phone you want, but the phone your mobile company allow you to buy.

    This explains how android isn't having any impact in our market and why iphone dominates.
    The main cause is because one of the big operator of this country paid a lot of money to buy the exclusive on the iphone.
    Now they have to recover the money, so, they don't sell any android phone and even put the 3GS in low stock to sell all their previously bought 3G.

    For now, I think that android is the best platform, it's very spread among manufacturers and even in different kind of devices like phones or internet tables, but while the mobile operators keeps running the market, android has a bad position, IMHO that's because it doesn't exists as ONE android product that identifies the platform.
     
  5. *LTD* thread starter macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #5
    Choosing a smartphone that "might not be as beautiful and sexy to use, and maybe even the hardware gadgets are not as beautifully designed"?

    Tell me again why I'd want to choose that?
     
  6. Teh Don Ditty macrumors G4

    Teh Don Ditty

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    #6
    ^Because you think Apple is God and can do no wrong?
     
  7. *LTD* thread starter macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #7
    LOL. Reading Comprehension 101.

    Choosing a smartphone that "might not be as beautiful and sexy to use, and maybe even the hardware gadgets are not as beautifully designed"?

    Tell me again why I'd want to choose that?


    If I thought "Apple is God and can do no wrong", then why would I choose a smartphone that "might not be as beautiful and sexy to use", for which "the hardware gadgets are not beautifully designed"?

    I'd obviously NOT choose that.
     
  8. Teh Don Ditty macrumors G4

    Teh Don Ditty

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    #8
    ^My post wasn't in regards to your post directly, more of an observation about what you post regularly. My point stands.
     
  9. angelneo macrumors 68000

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    #9
    I agreed the developers play a big role, but if Google let Android goes out of control. It's just going to frustrate the developers even more. If each manufacturer start putting out different version of Android on their handsets, developers are going to have a big headache supporting all those different versions
     
  10. *LTD* thread starter macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #10
    Frankly, your point wouldn't be too far off.

    Of course Apple CAN do wrong. Anyone can. But I have yet to be disappointed by Apple. I've got a few minor complaints here and there (i.e., the way Quicktime X indexes movies), but nothing really major. Overall, Apple seems to have done all the right things for a few years now.
     
  11. danjferguson macrumors newbie

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    #11
    When it comes to hardware and the software that runs it, everyone keeps forgetting that developers and consumers actually HATE open source. No device with open source software loaded on it has ever been successful commercially. Open source apps are one thing, but open source OS is a totally different story.
     
  12. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #12
    Given the increasingly popular google android based phones, I'd say your comment is without merit. More so, I'd say that the many of the consumers buying, considering a droid based phone have no idea the OS is open source.

    Finally, generally speaking, consumers and developers don't "hate" open source but rather have an affinity to what they're used too. For instance, people choose Microsoft office because they have it at work. Its not because they realize openoffice is opensoure and they despise it.

    On topic with the phone, I think Google's approach is a formula for success and I can easily see them catching up to the iPhone and perhaps even surpassing them, in both volume, design and OS.
     
  13. *LTD* thread starter macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #13
    In design and OS?

    Sorry. This just isn't possible in the foreseeable future. This is Apple we're talking about. Google is about as close to Apple in the UI and design department as you are from the moon. Apple is usually several steps above everyone else in this area, no matter how mature the competing product is.

    If you're an Apple enthusiast this should be clear to you by now.
     
  14. Teh Don Ditty macrumors G4

    Teh Don Ditty

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    #14
    ^Where do you stand Palm's webOS design wise then?
     
  15. Consultant macrumors G5

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    #15

    Nope. Windows Mobile used the same argument for years. Why the argument fails for Android.
    http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2009/...oid-and-apples-iphone-os-as-software-markets/

    Same excuses and FUD used against the iPod for years.

    Keep in mind Android was purchased by google in 2005, and has been in development for years. Where are the developers?

    Android platform is SOOOO open last season's phone cannot be updated to latest software.

    About Android freedom? Android "approved" a phishing app from scammers last month.
     
  16. Consultant macrumors G5

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    #16
    That is going to happen, in fact, it is happening already.

    The reason is each manufacturer like to differentiate their offering from competitors, thus each manufacturer uses different hardware and different version of the software.

    Plus Google doesn't give the same piece of software to each manufacturer.
     
  17. *LTD* thread starter macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #17
    Where do I stand on Palm's WebOS design?
     
  18. Teh Don Ditty macrumors G4

    Teh Don Ditty

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    #18
    Woops, sorry. Yes sir.

    That would be comparing Apples to Apples (no pun intended)
     
  19. *LTD* thread starter macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #19
    WebOS is great. Palm nailed the UI, that's for sure. Well, it *was* designed by ex-Apple folks after all. ;)

    A great OS on less than stellar hardware, pushed by a badly-run company. The problem with WebOS is Palm.
     
  20. danjferguson macrumors newbie

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    #20
    That's the thing, if they would stop touting it as an open source device, it would probably take right off. This is what happens in the mind of a consumer, first of all realize that deep down, most consumers want to be taken for a ride that strains their wallet but keeps them entertained.

    1. Awesome phone, I'm getting it (plop down $x.xx). Open source? Whatever? It's cool.
    2. Wait open source means what? Really? Well that's kind of cool.
    3. Wait open source means that? That's crap. Why doesn't this thing work like my friend's iPhone or WinMo HTC or BB? Ugh, I bet it's because they aren't making any money off of the software they don't put as much work into it as those other guys.
    4. I'm getting something somebody is going to make money off of because they will care more about it.

    Now realize, the people like this are probably not on these forums, and you have to realize that even for the dumb ones on here, they are probably more of an educated consumer and probably wouldn't give into something as silly as this example. We live in a capitalistic society, and when someone throws something like an open source way of life in the mix, it doesn't work. All google has to do is shut up about the open source part, say they spend billions of dollars in development on it, and no one will be the wiser.
     
  21. ArrowSmith macrumors regular

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    #21
    I like the idea that Android will win because of all the porn apps that will be written. Remember porn is already a $16 billion/year industry. :D:eek::eek:
     
  22. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #22
    Who says I'm an apple enthusiast. Why should I be bowing down worshipping a multibillion dollar company. They have one desire, well two. Make lots of money and keep the stock holders happy. Mind you that's not bad in of itself but my well being is not on their short list.

    Beside, after seeing how the android os is developing, your fanboy-ism has colored your judgment on the advances that android has made. While Apple does hold a clear edge [for now] you cannot say that they will always be ahead of google. They might be and they might not be. Like you said its the future and nobody knows for sure.
     
  23. djellison macrumors 68020

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    #23
    No. If you're an Apple 'enthusiast' such as yourself - you have a blinkered pro-Apple view of the world. Looking at your recent thread-starting history in this place demonstrates this.
     

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