Oct 24, 2020 | Updated: 09:48 PM EDT

How Accessible Is Android's Open Source Project?

Oct 25, 2013 04:02 PM EDT


Since its launch in November 2007, Android has risen to the top ranks for smartphones with owning nearly 80% of the smartphone market to date. A recent article by Ars Technica shared detailed insights about Google and Android’s current open source. Before the rise, Google was eager to gain any market share so the company offered Android for free. Apple’s iPhone was poised to dominate the market at this time and as a result Google launched AOSP.  Due to the nature of Android being open source, everyone is qualified to use it.

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Android Open Source Project (AOSP) was enforced to provide an open platform for developers to build innovative apps. Android’s Compatibility program provides tools used by OEMs while the Android SDK provides built-in tools for developers. Ron Amadeo wrote,”Android has arguably won the smartphone wars, but "Android winning" and "Google winning" are not necessarily the same thing. Since Android is open source, it doesn't really "belong" to Google. Anyone is free to take it, clone the source, and create their own fork or alternate version.

The importance of apps in the smartphone market is crucial. Android’s OS is compatible with over millions of different apps. Google’s biggest threat today is having an alternate company distribution source which can dominate this marketplace. So far Amazon’s Kindle fire is compared to as one of Google’s main competitors.

In China, the majority of Google’s services are banned. The country is more interested in innovation of the Android open-source platform model. Hugo Barra, vice president of Xiaomi Global stated, “I don’t think we will branch out to a new operating system.” Xiaomi is a Chinese maker of smartphones which operates on Google Android OS.

There is significant upside to having control of the largest mobile platform. The benefits for developers with Android Open Source Project is substantial. Functionality such as Location Based Services provide efficiency for organizations worldwide. According to ABI Research, “During the second quarter of 2013, the number of Android-powered tablets surpassed iOS-based slates for the first time, tablet-related hardware revenues reached parity, and perhaps most important, the average selling price (ASP) of iPad is rapidly approaching the market average.” Android is now the leader over Apple’s iPads with its Tablets and ecosystem.

Making sure that an alternate company is not feasible will leave Google in a safe position. Google is now tending towards closing AOSP by leveraging its platform and adding in closed source Google-branded apps. The development of a close sourced model basically converts to it being abandonware.

Android’s mobile platform is tremendously influenced by Google’s ecosystem. There are a lot of fine lines with the open source platform which integrate deeply with Google.  The risk is even too high for manufacturers to change. Google will further leverage its Google apps through its own brands. As a result, manufacturers will be unable to use Android OS in its entirety due to the apps being close source by Google.

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