05 November 2007

GPhone: Microsoft Still Not Picking It Up

So the GPhone has landed, or rather:

“We are not building a GPhone; we are enabling 1,000 people to build a GPhone,” said Andy Rubin, Google’s director of mobile platforms, who led the effort to develop the software.

And, of course, it's how they're enabling those 1,000 companies to create GPhones that's critical:

The software running on the phones may not even display the Google logo. Instead, Google is giving the software away to others who will build the phones. The company invested heavily in the project to ensure that all of its services are available on mobile phones. Its ultimate goal is to cash in on the effort by selling advertisements to mobile phone users, just as it does on Internet-connected computers.

It's a totally different model: you make it as easy as possible for companies to design the phones, you help them sell as many as possible, and then make your money from the user-base. Microsoft's John O’Rourke, of course, still doesn't get it (or maybe just pretends not to):

“They may be delivering one component that is free,” he said. “You have to ask the question, what additional costs come with commercializing that? I can tell you that there are a bunch of phones based on Linux today, and I don’t think anyone would tell you it’s free.”

Sorry, John, that's was "free as in freedom", rather than "free as in beer".

Update 1: Lazy me: here's the original press release. And another thing: note that as well as GNU/Linux, as expected, there is also Java. Now consider what might have happened had Java not be GPL'd....

Update 2: Here's a nice quote from one of the Mr Googles hisself:

Sergey Brin: “As I look at it I reflect, ten years ago I was sitting at a graduate student cubicle. We were able to build incredible things,. There was a set of tools that allowed us to do that. It was all open technologies. It was based on Linux, GNU, Apache. All those pieces and many more allowed us to do great things and distribute it to the world. That is what we are doing today, to allow people to innovate on today’s mobile devices. Today’s mobile devices are more powerful than those computers I was working on just ten years ago. I cannot wait to see what today’s innovators will build.”

RMS will be pleased at the rare call-out for GNU there.

Update 3: Whoops, should've spotted this:

The one I really can’t figure out is this: how did Google (and friends) manage to build a “complete mobile phone software stack” built on the GPL licensed “open Linux Kernel” that’s itself licensed under the “commercial-friendly” Apache v2 license that protects would-be adopters from the “from the ‘viral infection’ problem.” Before you ask, yes that’s a direct quote, and yes I think using it is an exceptionally poor decision. I expected more from you, Google.

Very odd.

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