Former Facebook for iPhone developer Joe Hewitt has weighed in on the Steve Jobs re-ignited "openness" debate with a cogent argument that Android isn't much more open than iOS, at least not in the true spirit of the term. Here's what he posted (mostly via Twitter for iPad, for those keeping track at home):
How does Android get away with the "open" claim when the source isn't public until major releases, and no one outside Google can check in? [@joehewitt]
Compare the Android "open source" model to Firefox or Linux if you want to see how disingenuous that "open" claim is. [@joehewitt]
Until Android is read/write open, it's no different than iOS to me. Open source means sharing control with the community, not show and tell. [@joehewitt]
The comparison to Mozilla is something our own Phil Nickinson of Android Central made during our recent podcast bonus feature on openness and it's a good one. Hewitt famously walked away from developing Facebook for iPhone because he didn't like Apple's closed Apple Store, whether or not he's secretly working on a secret Facebook phone right now alongside former Android lead Eric Tseng, he makes an interesting case.
And it goes back to what we've been saying for a long time -- at the end of the day it isn't hyperbole that matters, not about open or closed, fragmented or integrated, uncontrolled or restricted, it's about who makes the best phones for consumers and who provides the best platform for developers (either to write the code they want or make the money they need to feed their families). That's echoed in a great discussion between David Barnard of App Cubby and Liessen on Twitter:
"Open" is an emotional argument pandering to the philosophy of developing in a perfect world where it's about freedom not money. [@Lessien]
Maybe it's the circles I run in, but I don't know many coders who can eat, drink, or find shelter in this freedom you speak of. ;) [@drbarnard]
So let's worry more about the end user product and less about the philosophies of the OS and manufacturing companies, okay?