Developer: No, Android Not as Open as You Think

Steve Jobs' rant earlier this week during the Apple investor call set the tech industry afire with his inflammatory remarks against all competitors of iPhone and iPad.

Many rebuttals have come against Jobs' comments, but one developer at Facebook is taking issue with how people keep saying that Android is "open".

Joe Hewitt, a developer now at Facebook, helped open source projects like Mozilla's Firefox. He has ample experience with open source projects, and he doesn't feel that Android is as open as people say it is.

Hewitt tweeted:

  • Until Android is read/write open, it’s no different than iOS to me. Open source means sharing control with the community, not show and tell.
  • Compare the Android “open source” model to Firefox or Linux if you want to see how disingenuous that “open” claim is.
  • I think it is the lack of visibility into daily progress that bothers me about Android more than the lack of write access.
  • like Rubin bragging about how downloading a months old code dump is the definition of open.
  • Point I am trying to make is, Rubin bickering with Jobs is a farce, because both refuse to share the one thing that matters: control.

While it may sound like Hewitt is saying that Android is closed up like iOS, he clarifies in a blog post that he feels Android is the most open of all mobile operating systems.

"It kills me to hear the term 'open' watered down so much. It bothers me that so many people's first exposure to the idea of open source is an occasional code drop, and not a vibrant community of collaborators like I discovered ten years ago with Mozilla," Hewitt wrote.

"It's clear to me that the only reason Android has enjoyed so much success is that Google has given the carriers pretty much everything they could ask for, and the carriers have responded with the ton of marketing dollars and subsidies that Google needed in order for Android to have any shot to compete with the iPhone. While I can criticize Google for compromising Android in an effort to please the carriers, I have to admit that if they hadn't done this, Android would very likely be irrelevant today."