So the news is everywhere – Google is buying Motorola Mobility for $12B+. Is this a clear indication that the concept of an open source mobile operating system is a fantasy?
When Google bought the Android mobile operating system back in 2005 the idea was to make this a free and open source OS – available to any handset manufacturer. With this acquisition are we witnessing the death of this dream and the harsh reality that you need to own the software and hardware components to ensure a great user experience?
RIM has always owned the entire stack for their handsets – this had been their competitive advantage around security for many years (and still is). Apple is in the same boat owning the development of the OS and the specifications of the hardware. Both of these companies understood very early on that the need to have hardware that takes full advantage of the operating system is a competitive advantage. Now Google finally gets it – something that Microsoft didn’t with Windows Mobile but corrected with their integration with Nokia.
So now you’ve got four mobile operating systems in iOS, BBOS (eventually QNX), Android and Windows Phone all in control of every piece of the stack – where does open source really fit in?