Shockingly yes, if nothing else in the mobile world. Dr Andreas Constantinou’s research report on Mobile megatrends in 2009 points out that now open is the new closed.
Let’s quickly look at how OSI has defined Open Source
Open source is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.
Hence, Open Source is basically an approach which let’s a vendor/developer benefit from the community effort and in-return makes sure the vendor contributes to the community in re-turn.
Android, Sybmian and Limo are Open source, great!! So why are they closed?
Look at theOpen Source Software definition, which includes:
- No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups – The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.
- No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor – The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.
Android, Symbian and Limo don’t quite adhere to this definition. All these Open source operating system’s are actually closed and controlled because of the Governance models.
License model let’s you to access the source code but Governance model gives the commercial entity funding the open source project to control the roadmap.
Though Android is licensed under open source, Google has never publicized Android’s governance models and these fact’s support the argument that Google has a tremendous control on the product if not as much as the source code
- Nobody outside the Open Handset Alliance can contribute to the Android product roadmap.
- Android market is closed and Google has complete control over it.
- An OEM needs more than a year of effort and google’s help to make a working Android mobile phone.
The situation is alike with the other two OS’es.Thus even if Limo, Symbian, Android are licensed under open source, the commercial entities funding the projects do have and will continue to have complete control on the products and App stores.
Though this is not necessarily a bad thing but these are just not like Linux-E, the ideal open source project one can really think of. It uses Peer-to-peer governance.