Google won't be releasing the source code for Android 3.0 Honeycomb any time soon. (For an excellent overview of why that is and what it means, see Jerry Hildenbrand's article over at our sibling site, Android Central.) What makes this interesting for TiPb is that, for a while now, Google has used the term "open" as a hammer to differentiate themselves from Apple, iOS, and the iPhone. From Eric Schmidt's "completely open" quips to Vic Gundotra I/O smack-talk to Andy Rubin's now-ironic tweet, it's been clear from the start that "open" wasn't a development philosophy for Google so much as a business and marketing strategy. It was a brilliant if disingenuous move that rallied many hardcore free and open-source software advocates to their cause (and platform) and got a bevy of tech writers to skewer Apple for being equally and oppositely "closed".
That it was business and marketing rather than philosophy was fairly clear from the start -- "open" is such a nebulous term to begin with. Open to whom and in what way? Even if we restrict ourselves to open-source, Android was never Stallman-class open, GPL licensed and patent unencumbered. It was never even Mozilla-class open, where the source was freely available even during development phases (most of us couldn't download, compile, and contribute back to Gingerbread before the Nexus S debuted). It was Google-class open, which meant it was only released when it benefitted Google, and only really meant for manufacturers and carriers. We've spoken about it plenty of times here at TiPb, and so has Android Central. (Phil Nickinson and I even did a special podcast on it back in October.)
It's kind of like that popsicle you get at the corner store -- it's not chocolate, it's chocolaty. Android was never open. It was openy.