AndArm? GArm? How to Name the New Platform.

Just as IBM and Intel made x86 a standard of which that other OS became a part. Google and ARM appear to seek standardization of Android 3 + ARM. This could be a good thing as it will reduce time to market for new products and reduce the difficulty of porting apps to the different mini-platforms that exist today within the world of smart thingies.

see Digitimes
“In order to improve Android 3.0, Google has recently announced it will halt the release of Android source code and some market watchers believe Google’s move is to prevent players from adopting Android 3.0 on smartphones or netbooks which should significantly impact the developments of second-tier and white-box tablet PC players.”

I think that statement is off a bit. Google has stated that they delayed release of source code because Android 3 was not quite ready. It does seem to be ready for tablets. The “not ready” part probably means for everything. Standardization to me means that Google wants Android to be able to run on anything. That’s mostly about user interface and is a large task. I don’t see this delay has anything to do with making Android non-free like that other OS. Google could do that with the non-GPL Android parts but they have repeatedly shown that they want to be tight with the kernel.org and developers. That means keeping Android as FLOSS.

“Android is an open-source software stack for mobile devices, and a corresponding open-source project led by Google. We created Android in response to our own experiences launching mobile apps. We wanted to make sure that there was no central point of failure, so that no industry player can restrict or control the innovations of any other. That’s why we created Android, and made its source code open.”
see http://source.android.com/

Clearly Google has gone out of its way to avoid the GPL but they have not gone to the dark side. I think they have wasted a lot of energy forking the kernel and not using GPL but authours of code can choose whatever licence they like. The source code will be opened. Standardization does not need to be open however. Negotiations with ARM and manufacturers can be closed and it may well be in Google’s best interests, making the web depend on Google as much as possible. I think most of Google’s strategy is to exclude M$ as much as possible from the web. Clearly, somebody has to do something to break the monopoly but we definitely don’t need another monopoly taking Wintel’s place.

Monopolies are not good for anyone but monopolists. I don’t think Google needs or wants to be a monopoly. They can and do compete on price/performance. Android + ARM can be just another platform for Google and a better platform than Wintel. Making Android + ARM a better platform is not about making Android closed source code. It is about making it the preferred platform for more players so that people work more effectively building the platform and using it.

Smaller players are impatient to get their hands on Android 3.0 and I don’t blame them but Google has a larger vision that takes more time to develop. I think it is more likely that Google sees itself as a bottleneck and needs the community more involved in development to promote the platform and to make it better. Google wants that process a bit more organized/standardized. That takes time. Apparently Google feels “the bazaar” is not quite right for competing against Wintel. I disagree with them about that but it’s their code and they can do it their way. Whatever works is good. Android has been working well but it is a pain for everyone to have to port for specific devices for specific versions of Android. Standardization will improve that and withholding the code for a time may be necessary until that is accomplished rather than having to port more stuff later. Google and I see Android as being huge and getting larger. It is worth every effort to make it durable in the future. With Wintel we have huge costs for every new release. Google, Android and ARM can do better.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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2 Responses to AndArm? GArm? How to Name the New Platform.

  1. No doubt that is part of it. Google has stated publicly that it is not ready for smart phones although Xoom is coming out soon. I expect it amounts to various tweaks of the graphics and telephony.

  2. Dann says:

    One possible reason for Google not releasing the code yet is because companies like to do something called “Demoing”. When presenting a demo of their work, it is generally only fit for a couple use-cases for them to show off and not for production use. Because Google loves being first to market, they could quite possibly release code that only half-works in order to garner interest, then fix the rest and release it. There’s no point in releasing broken or unfinished code when they are close to fixing it up as they see fit. That way they won’t waste developer’s work fixing the same bug twice.

    That is my theory.

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