According to Google, the secret of Android’s success lies in the fact that it is open source. Being open source means that manufacturers of tablets and handsets do not have to get a license or pay for it, if they use the technology in their products.
However, in the recent past, a number of developments in the world of gadgets have threatened the open source character of Android. A number of patent cases have been filed that might influence the free for all policy of Android. Last week, HTC, the handset manufacturer who uses Android, lost two patent cases against Apple.
HTC has filed an appeal and a final decision is expected by December. Microsoft and Oracle have slapped lawsuits against Google for using their patents in Android. HTC has made a deal with Microsoft for paying licensure fees for using Android in their devices.
Despite being publicized as open source, several developers are unhappy with Google for making Android hard to get. According to them, Google does not release the source code at least for a few months after manufacturers are given codes. Besides, Android apps are another annoying feature for manufacturers since most of them are written in native codes and have to be rewritten to be of any use.
Mozilla, the non-profit company who spearheaded the Firefox web browser, has shown interest in this scenario. Andreas Gal, a Mozilla researcher, posted in a forum on Google Groups that they are planning to begin a project called “Boot to Gecko” (B2G). This project is meant to create a true open source operating system. The project is in the development stage and requires further work.
Gal elucidated that the work will be carried on in the open and the source code will be released in real-time. He said that the group also plans to “take all successful additions to an appropriate standards group” and monitor the alterations that take place. He said that apps will not run just on Firefox but will be compatible with everything on the web.
He also said that the project is in the bud. Whether this open source code will be able to keep up with the existing big players in the field such as Microsoft, Apple and Google is something that time will tell. However, the work seems to be directed towards achieving that goal. According to Gal, Mozilla aims at creating something that will be on par with apps of iPhone, WP7 and Android and still give developers a free rein.