Much has been made about Google and it’s decision to keep it’s mobile OS, Android, open-sourced, and what kind of impact that could have on the industry. Andy Rubin, the godfather of Android, even tweeted this when attacked last year by Steve Jobs and Apple about their claims of openness:
the definition of open: “mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make”
Now GetJar, a company seeking to be a competitor and an alternative to the Android Market, has their CEO chiming in to CNET’s “How Android Isn’t Really That Open” article by Roger Cheng. GetJar’s CEO Iljas Laurs has this to say about Android:
“To me, closed is anything that doesn’t have total freedom; By that definition, Android is already closed.”
He states in the article that he believes Google will exert even tighter control over it’s Android OS, restricting the types of apps that developers can create and the technologies they can use.
Now to the credit of Mr. Cheng, a senior writer for CNET, he acknowledges the prejudice of Mr. Laurs and how his statements are meant to portray his company’s perceived advantages over Google’s Market. But he in no way challenges these, instead giving him an open (pun intended) platform for advertising both his store and his ideas even calling for developers to move to Windows Mobile instead.
To me this is a serious case of irresponsible journalism. A serious news outlet is basing their entire article on what a CEO of a company that is directly competing against Google’s Android Market for revenue and market share has to say? How irresponsible. There is nothing in this article that doesn’t smell of journalistic bias. And he’s also pointing out HTML5 but neglects to point out how much his company is using that technology. Pretty bad reporting here and completely misleading!
Mr. Cheng references YouMail’s recent removal from the Android Market at the behest of TMobile, and how YouMail had such a problem with it as evidence of it’s lack of openness. But as it was found out to be YouMail’s problem and that it was negatively affecting TMobile’s network, Google pulled the app due to it’s impact to a network used by customers. And then when it was re-added to the Market after YouMail made the needed code changes, they cry foul that Google did so after only one carrier complained, but what are they suggesting here? That all four of the carriers needed to complain first? Maybe we should be grateful that Google pulled it so that more customers weren’t affected. How does this illustrate that Android isn’t open source or that they are on the long, slippery slope to being closed like Apple?
This ad for GetJar, er… article by CNET does nothing to actually talk about the Android OS and it’s openness, but instead talks about the Android Market. But to further it’s irresponsible journalism, the title of the article implies that the Android OS is the subject here and completely misleading. The openness of Android is even exemplified here by the fact that you can have different flavors of Android and you have choices (heaven-forbid!) on where and how you want to purchase or download Android applications. But you won’t find either the writer or Mr. Laurs admitting that. Instead you see them pushing their wares and calling for more fragmentation, while claiming that fragmentation itself can be bad.
No other OS, except for Linux upon which Android has been based, allows for complete control in how you package and distribute your flavor of the OS. If a developer doesn’t like a particular flair, they are free to fork their end product and produce an experience they want to market, ala Amazon Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble Nook Color, etc. And they do so because of the complete openness of the Android ecosystem. I think I shall go to my local technology retailer and pickup a product based on iOS but has been customized to be how XYZ Corporation wanted it to be. Wait… I can’t because iOS is as closed as an OS could be – even going so far as to regulate down to the hardware said OS can be installed on. Not even Windows does that. But you don’t see the author or Mr. Laurs discussing that here. Instead this again points to the obvious prejudice and free advertising on display for GetJar.
You should be ashamed CNET for allowing this to happen. And I believe an explanation into the relationship Mr. Cheng has with GetJar should be given, seeing as there has been no counterpoint or really anything resembling true journalism. Especially given the fact that Mr. Cheng has also written another article about GetJar with glowing praise. It’s one thing for a company to buy ad space – it’s quite another to allow them free advertisement in the form of a news article.