First off, I just want to clearly state that I have nothing against open source in general. I use VLC, Firefox, FileZilla, Putty, Linux, blah blah quite regularly. I appreciate openness as a design philosophy, and I CC-license almost everything I create. And besides, in many cases the open-source solutions are simply better than the proprietary ones.
But I do not believe Android to be one such case. The thing is, for lazy users like me, openness is just one criterion to be balanced against simplicity and usability. And Android does not do so well in that regard, which I believe to be a direct result of its intentional openness. I will explain in more detail below.
Then your problem is with the OEMs, not the open source components. And if you're in the US, the carriers.
No, I believe my gripe is with the inherent openness of Android. Please let me explain.
I believe Google embraced open source Android out of necessity, to get the carriers and OEMs on board. My guess is they believed they didn't stand a chance against iPhone's impending dominance unless they could convince the carriers and OEMs that they would be able to modify and brand their phones however they wanted to, to create a distinctly "them" experience and not just another behemoth out of their control -- meaning, they probably thought the OEMs and carriers didn't want to just swap Apple for Google and in so doing be reduced to indistinguishable common carriers. That would be a race to the bottom for them where all they could compete on would be minutes, data packages, and price (which is the situation now, but not when the iPhone and Android first came out). Instead, they sold the openness as an opportunity to for carriers and OEMs to create competitive advantages -- and charge non-commodity prices -- by differentiating their phone models from one another.
When all iPhones are the same, your carrier doesn't matter as much. When one Android phone only exists on a single carrier and that's the phone you want, well, suddenly the OEM and the carrier both have meaning to you as the consumer again.
Not terribly relevant, especially when you consider that Google created all of the open source bits of Android.
It's not the Google open source stuff that's bad, it's the stuff everyone else added, changed, or removed because Android's openness allowed them to do so. It's a subtle but significant distinction. Openness isn't inherently bad, but Android's openness ceded Google control to less capable third parties, who by and large produced crap.
The crappiness in this wasn't intentional (I would hope), but the openness was.
If Google had retained complete control over its platform from the get-go, we would not have seen things like carrier-disabled tethering, Verizon's betrayal of the Nexus line, slow-ass/eternally-forgotten Android updates, useless bundled apps, conflicting address books / calendars, SIM/phone storage storage differences across vendors, device-specific apps and accessories, 400 different screen sizes and resolutions, etc.
And if Google had done that, Android probably never would've taken off. So it's understandable why they chose it, but the result for end users is a much messier ecosystem of products and even services.
For folks like me who just want a way to effectively use their Google accounts on the go, Google usually does it a lot better first-party than third party, open-source attempts.
>> Do you even know what you're talking about?
I'm not sure what you dislike about that statement, so please clarify.
I mean things like third-party Gmail clients (sometimes integrated into the phone), annoying OEM skins instead of the Google launcher interface, carrier-specific tethering solutions instead of the stuff built into Android, third party camera and gallery apps that leave out Panorama, Photosphere, and Picasa sync, third party address book solutions inferior to the Google contact manager, etc.
None of that stuff is bad because they're open-source or not. They're bad because Google, as a SIDE EFFECT of openness, allowed third parties to replace the good stuff with crap.
The overarching point of my argument is that Android would be better if it were solely controlled by Google in a fashion similar to iPhone or Kindle Fire, not because open-source is inherently bad, but because Android's particular implementation of open-source design meant that carriers and OEMs could and did take good open stuff and replace it with closed crap. Yes, that also meant that in some cases good hackers could replace the closed source crap with even better ROMs, but I still prefer the Vanilla Google experience, a la the Nexus 10, to something like CyanogenMod. If only because Google's new releases usually do more for features, stability, and speed than new ROM releases; having a ROM means having to wait for nightlies to turn into stables, whereas with my Nexus 10 updates are immediate and usually fully functional. Because it's all Google controlled and vertically integrated.
Which is neither here nor there with respect to the software being open source.
Maybe this is the crux of it: The issue isn't that the SOFTWARE is open source, but the PLATFORM. An open platform is what allowed bad software and hardware and carriers to become so pervasive, and in so doing made Android more popular but also more messy than the iPhone.
Perhaps you would be better off with an iPhone?
But I don't want to be a part of a closed Apple ecosystem, or a closed Amazon or Microsoft ecosystem for that matter -- because those companies don't give me what I like in exchange for their closed-ness. I want to be a part of a closed Google ecosystem.
It's not the closed-off-ness that gives it value, it's the Google control.
Apple means nothing to me aside from prettiness and patent bullying. OTOH I love Google services, and I love having a centralized Google account that ties 90% of my life together. I don't care that I'm handing my entire online existence to one organization, because what they give me in return is worth it. I just want a phone that works well with this ecosystem WITHOUT the ability to have it tinkered with by third party crap that I don't deliberately install myself.
Which, again, is irrelevant. Of course, that you're at +5 just shows there are people with mod points that have equally poor understanding.
I'm not sure how it's irrelevant. My argument, again, is this:
Google makes good apps and good phones, then opens it up to third parties to help sales.
Third parties take them up on their offer, discard much of the goodness, rebrand it and sell it to consumers. Sometimes they will go so far as to remove the Googleness altogether, to the point that it takes significant hacking to restore it, as with Nook, Kindle Fire, or cheap Chinese tablets.
In relative terms (meaning excluding differences between versions), an iPhone is an iPhone, an iPad is an iPad, and almost entirely controlled, and vertically integrated, by Apple. The result is a much more seamless user experience.
I just want something like that but with the Google ecosystem, and I have it with the Nexus 10 -- entirely Google controlled, but still open enough that I could hack it if I wanted to. I don't want to because I have no reason to.
My phone (a VZW Galaxy Nexus), on the other hand, is crap because Google ceded some of its control to Verizon. So I can't tether or get timely Android updates or clear off the Verizon crap unless I install a third-party ROM, and even then I have to jump through hoops to get the latest Google Apps, and I will always be months behind on Android version updates. If Android were closed to begin with like iPhone was, Verizon could not have done that -- but they also probably would not not have taken Android in to begin with.
So yes, my ultimate gripe is with the carriers and the OEMs because they are the most direct villains, but Android's openness was the weak gate in Google's paradise that let them in.