'Motorolandroid': Another Open Source Proving Ground - InformationWeek

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10/30/2008
01:34 PM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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'Motorolandroid': Another Open Source Proving Ground

Even if there won't be any Android phones from Motorola for at least a year, it might well be one of the best things that's happened to Motorola in a long time. It also may well be the best thing that could have happened to Android, since it'll put the OS right in the line of fire of the non-smartphone-buying public.

Even if there won't be any Android phones from Motorola for at least a year, it might well be one of the best things that's happened to Motorola in a long time. It also may well be the best thing that could have happened to Android, since it'll put the OS right in the line of fire of the non-smartphone-buying public.

What Android needs, as I see it, is the same as what's needed by any open source product that has aspirations to reach more than just developers. It needs to be put into as many arenas as possible where real-world users -- the guys walking down the street making calls on the way to the bus, not engineers who are hyper-conscious of the nature of what they're doing.

I'm not implying that this isn't going to happen with Android (or Motorola), only that it's a good example to follow. The more people that actually use an open source project, the more people that deliver feedback on it -- good, bad and ugly -- the better.

Sometimes the best way to do that is to put open source under people's noses in ways they wouldn't normally expose themselves to it. Netbooks were one of the big first ways that happened, and a big lesson was learned: It doesn't matter what you're running if it doesn't work as-is. Phones are another great way to do this. We expect them to just work, and when they don't, that's the end of that phone.

This is exactly the kind of attitude that open source needs as one of its key motivators. Anything that does not work must be singled out and identified as such. And if the response by the developers or creators isn't up to snuff, either, then that's a clear sign the community in question isn't up to the task at hand. They need to not only be able to write code, but respond in a socially proactive way to the needs of users in the real world.

And the more I think about it, the more broad markets like phones -- even more so than netbooks -- seem like the best places for that to happen. Right out in public.

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/syegulalp

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