Most Popular Open Source Platform Isn’t

Out of a survey done of eight major open source mobile platforms, Android was dead last. Android, the open-source underdog, scored just 23% on an openness survey - making it not only the lowest scorer but also the only platform to score less than 58%. Bazinga!

The report from VisionMobile evaluated Android, Eclipse, the Linux Kernel, MeeGo, Firefox, Qt, Symbian, and WebKit using several criteria to create an – open governance index. Eclipse ranked the highest with 84%.

This news may be less-than-shocking for many, seeing as industry experts have been shunning Android’s claim to be open source since Google started the project. The VisionMobile report identified key problems with the platform, especially with their “unilateral Android project decision-making processes” and “closed contributions process model.” VisionMobile also negatively commented on the visibility of Android’s roadmap, specifically in reference to its public availability and the controlled development by Google when it comes to Android’s private branch.

Google and Android also have failed in terms of their compliance with the Open Handset Alliance. “When launched, the Open Handset Alliance served the purpose of a public industry endorsement for Android. Today, however, the OHA serves little purpose besides a stamp of approval for OHA members; there is no formal legal entity, no communication processes for members nor frequent member meetings,” says the report.

Another lackluster quality of “open source” Android is in that its specific parameters of compliance testing are a closely guarded secret by Google. In fact Skyhook is currently in the process of suing Google for allegedly falsifying the compatibility testing parameters for anticompetitive purposes, and the VisionMobile report quoted some of Skyhook’s litigation suit evidence, including an internal Google email from Dan Morrill, Google’s Android compatibility chief, where he described Google’s compliance testing as “using compatibility as a club to make OEMs do things we want.”