Quick, which tech powerhouse’s flagship mobile product came out dead last in a systematic survey of the openness of eight open-source software projects?
You’d be forgiven for saying “Apple,” considering that the Cupertino-based company makes no bones about locking down its mobile iOS and app store tighter than a bicycle left outdoors in Manhattan. But it turns out that Google, which has become increasingly “meh” with regard to its famous mantra in direct proportion to its growth and profitability, is now the home of the least open open-source project evaluated: Android.
Indeed, Android was the only project evaluated by VisionMobile (pdf) to score less than 58 percent, compared to the Apple-sponsored WebKit browser project’s 68 percent. (Webkit powers all versions of Apple’s Safari browser, as well as Mail and other OS X applicaitons.)
The reasons for Android’s poor showing were straightforward: the project has no real public roadmap, and decisions about the future of Android are made unilaterally by Google. Funny how it turns out that throwing code over the wall whenever the company feels like it does not an open-source project make.
Webkit, on the other hand, even bested the famously open-source-friendly Mozilla foundation’s Firefox browser (which scored 65 percent). No wonder, then, that Google feels safe basing its own browser—Chrome—on top of the relatively open and democratic WebKit standard.