September 30, 2014

Is Google Android Open Enough for the End User?

For days I’ve being reading on tech blogs and in discussion boards on how open Google’s Android is. Some wonder whether it is even open at all. With all the latest happenings regarding the new SDK only being issued out to a selected few of developers leaving the others stranded in old SDK wilderness for God knows how long.

My worry is not whether or not Android will be open. I have no doubts that it will be open. But will it be open enough for the end user? Will it be possible for us to remove and add anything we like to an Android phone or will the carriers still reign superior on what we can and cannot do with a device our hard earn cash has bought? Call me naive, but it is difficult to see why carriers would give in to Google and Android unless there is something more sinister at work that we are yet to know about.

Users who want a fully open device, capable of doing anything with, make up a fraction of the millions of subscribers a carrier has in its clutches. I have personally spoken to a lot of mobile subscribers and a majority of them don’t care too much about being ‘open’. They just accept whatever their carrier dish out without making a huge deal out of it. What is Google doing to do to make sure that the few in the world who appreciate open truly get that? Whenever we pick up the newest Android phone from our carrier, are we going to to be hindered in some way from taking advantage of the Android openness glory? It would be a real disappointment if Android just turns out to be another mobile phone operating system.

I’m hoping that when my sweaty palms get hold of one of the first Android phones I will be able fire it up and instantly remove all unwanted predefined carrier items. I want to be able to run any application I so desire, launch some Instant Messenger client and never worry about text messages again. I also want to be able to make calls using some random VOIP application. If I end up unable to carry out those tasks, or a host more, then why would I, and everyone else here, continue supporting the platform? We deserve an OS that is open for the end user, the people who matter most, not the carriers and their investors in expensive suits who have no idea what open is all about.

Maybe it’s high time Google think about their own network or partnering with an existing carrier who is not afraid of opening up because if Android ends up being part open and part closed then all Hell’s gonna break loose. I’d hate to say it, but I could definitely see myself being part of the angry mob.

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