- Dec 23, 2009
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The evolution of Android over the years has been amazing. For those who started with the Droid here on this forum and those who started with the very first Google phone it is hard to imagine that we would be here, but we did not get here on the back of Google alone.
Android started out as an open source platform that gave developers open freedom to create. Over the years we have seen some marvelous creations to the point where garage developers were steps ahead of Google and phone manufacturers. I still remember when devs created and released a fix for the Thunderbolt bug before HTC even acknowledge it existed and once the issue was acknowledged it still took months for them to release a fix that was needed.
But, over the years these garage heroes began to fade off and to be frank I'm not surprised. The hours it took to develop programs, apps, roms, themes, and fixes were all done for free. Yeah you would have the occasional donation, but the money earned was nowhere near what they could make developing for other platforms. Even worse, the community (me included) responded harshly to developers demanding payment, despite the fact that Google and phone manufacturers would implement those same fixes in their software.
So have developers received a fair shake in all this?
I mean, as innovative as Android has been, it has also been brilliant in an exploitative kind of way. Google supplies the software and motivates potential developers to build for the thrill and then later on takes those same fixes to improve their own software, all without having to offer wages, healthcare, or anything... not even a simple acknowledgement. Even worse are the phone manufacturers who can take those fixes and then lock people out of the software and serve C&Ds to anyone who dares design an app or program that is similar to their own.
The one person who managed to monetize their work was Cyanogen. He managed to turn his work into millions, a feat deserving applause. And yet you can question, despite his ranting and ravings on Google, that he has copied Google's model step for step.
Like Google, CM is an open source software that allows developers to develop on it. There are official maintainers and garage developers alike. Despite CM at least giving credit for the work they use I doubt garage developers get paid for their work.
So, at the end of the day is it fair or is this evil capitalism at its best?
In my opinion yes it is fair. The reason being is that to completely build a software from the ground up costs money. And yet people have the opportunity to build on top of software that has already been developed. Google (and CM for that matter) provides the base, tools, and shares their know-how for free to help developers develop. The benefit of that is having multiple ideas building and designing which further sparks future innovations.
Is it fair that only Google can monetize on this program?
Well, others can monetize as well. Just look at the companies that have built on top of Android for a profit. And like Google, there are developers who build on top of CM (which is a build of Android) and have earned some pocket change. Plus, developers have the ability to put their work on the Play store and further profit (especially if they are able to use what they learned to develop for Apple apps).
As much as I, at times, feel like our favorite developers should have been paid more for their work and wish Google would allow a place for more root related software, Google realizes the best way to make their Play store more appealing to big name developers and potential phone customers is a stronger market. And to get a stronger market they had to clean house to make it appealing to the big names. In the end Google has become stronger because of it and Android is a better software experience overall.
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