GCN LAB IMPRESSIONS

Hey Google, Android can't be selectively 'open source'

Government has always been supportive of both commercial off-the-shelf products and those in the open source arena. And while Google's Android platform seem to have the edge over the iPhone in this respect, Google might not be quite as open-source as we originally thought.

Google recently suspended the accounts of two app developers and subsequently pulled every single app they ever made from the Google Market. This was all done without any warning whatsoever, Wired reported

One of the two programmers in question actually first heard about his suspension by people tweeting him to say they couldn’t find his apps.

Apparently, the two developers have made emulator apps that let users play games from other platforms, such as PlayStation consoles. The problem with this is that Sony recently released the Xperia Play Android-powered phone-slash-PlayStation controller and has put out all sorts of old PlayStation games as apps in the Google Market that are supposed to be only used on “PlayStation Certified” equipment, of which the Xperia Play is currently the only one. It is not hard to do the math here.

I suppose it was bound to happen. I mean, look at the two companies’ respective histories.

Google’s stated policy has always been “Don’t Be Evil.” But it really should say, “Don’t Be Evil, Unless Unduly Pressured By Someone Else.” When it initially launched services in China, Google acceded to pressure by the Chinese government to censor search results. Although the company has been trying to back off of this ever since, it still is doing business with one of the largest human rights violators in the world today.

And as for Sony, I really only have one word for you: Bleem! 

For those not up on PlayStation history, I suppose more than one word is needed. Bleem! was a company that made an emulator that could run PlayStation games on a PC or Sega Dreamcast system back in 1999. Sony sued them almost immediately for perceived violation of their rights, and although Bleem! won the suit, the legal costs allegedly drove the company out of business in 2005.

So it’s not hard to figure out what happens when an irresistible force meets a house of cards.

Although the two developers can peddle their wares on dozens of other sites that sell Android apps, the Android Market is by far the largest. So these two developers took a serious hit to their income. The worst part is that the removals came entirely without warning.

Google, you do know that you can’t have it both ways? Either you say you’re 100 percent open and stick to your guns, or you might as well set up a restrictive approval process like certain other app stores we all know.

By the way, Google, your handling is not what anyone would call “open.” If you want to know what open source really means, perhaps you should try Googling it.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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