Sometimes the "take it or leave it" position ends up being presented in a way that it is framed that those of us who choose not to partake in the rape of our liberties are backwards luddites (non-facebook member here, also got their domains blocked to kill their insidious tracking). I hope that criticism of those who say "no" is not where this article series (if that's what it is) is headed.
Despite the incessant barrage of snarky 'open' jokes from professional Apple frother John Gruber (typically redeemed somewhat by being funny) and M.G. "Mini-Gruber" Siegler (not so much), you can go download the fucking source code:
Sure, tons of manufacturers will sell you junky locked down Android-based phones (which they can do because... tada... it's open), you can also just go buy the unlocked phone that Google offers, and install whatever the hell you want on it.
And if you really want to root your phone and install your own build of the OS, it's basically as easy as ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA and boom-you're-done.
For any reasonable value of open, Android is. Claiming otherwise is just some weird kind of (apparently contagious) gobbledygook nonsense making the rounds among people emotionally invested in iOS. (Which I do use btw; although Android is open, it is still not good enough for me yet.)
Edit: why is that being downvoted? It's a fact. HN can be a strange beast at times.
Seriously--I know it's been a busy year--but the nine months (from February 2011 to November 2011) during which Android was being used in certain tablets without being open sourced hardly qualifies as "a really long time", especially in comparison to operating systems which have never been open.
Also, I subscribe to a pretty liberal interpretation of "open source", and "source will be downloadable at an undetermined date in the future, if we feel like it" really doesn't qualify.
There is, of course, the colloquial expectation of open - the implication that Google has never shied away from is that openness means choice. Of course, even with the source code, the vast majority of Android headsets are locked down - the openness does nobody any good except people who build custom distros (that normal users can't even install themselves!).
The "open" argument, while arguably, technically correct (the source is available... kind of), fails to meet the bar for what techies consider to be essential to the concept of openness, nor does it meet the bar for what laymen would consider to be openness.
I consider android similar to x.org when it was called xfree86, and oo.o before it became libreoffice. It's definitely open source, but it remains to be seen whether the project will develop an open culture. If not, a hostile fork will happen at some point.
Calling Android "open" is not just "technically" correct. It's really true: you can download the source to Android and build your own versions. Cyanogen does this. Amazon does this. Multiple handset manufacturers do this. Anyone can do this, and many do.
(Edit: No idea why your factual comment's getting downvoted, though. It'll hopefully get rectified as more people roll through this thread.)
Marco didn't say the claim was factually incorrect, he said it was BS, it is.
Android's openness is consequential to those who care about openness. And almost every Android user I know (yes, all fairly technical) likes that aspect and indeed takes advantage of it.
To such people, the open aspects -- both the fact that the OS is open source, and that they can install whatever apps they want without having to find a buffer overflow bug in the OS somewhere to exploit first -- are attractive.
The "vast majority of users" aren't the arbiter of whether or not something is consequential to me, or to the other people who generally prefer their systems to be more open.
OK, I am uncomfortable with my weird position in this thread as the Android Avenger (especially seeing as how I don't even use Android except to fuck around), so I apologize in advance for the breakdown in my civility function.
ARE YOU FUCKING HIGH ON FIRE?
YOU CAN COMPILE YOUR OWN MOTHERFUCKING (HACKED) ANDROID AND INSTALL IT ON YOUR OWN MOTHERFUCKING PHONE. FOR INSTANCE:
But I can assure you, my Galaxy Nexus is running a CM9 alpha that I built from source last night.
And if that's Marco's point, it's pretty damn poor. How does what Motorola does with the bootloader of their phone have to do with the code that Google puts out exactly?
Rooting is a security exploit, and I don't consider it relevant to whether the OS is practically open.
Now it's about the openness at the source code level? I think you should look up the CM statistics. There is a measurable percentage (or may tenth of a percent) of Android users that run custom software, so I benefit from that. I and others will only buy devices that will have CM support.
Further, the open nature of Android absolutely trickles down to the users. There are a dozen different (and with different physical form factor) Android models that are free on contract to buy. There is only one WP7 that I'm aware of that that is true for. Lower development costs are passed on to users, I've discussed this further somewhere else on this thread.
Second, Android is "open" in ways that have nothing to do with source availability. Even with a closed-source Honeycomb device, you can run apps from arbitrary sources, access the filesystem, replace OS components like the keyboard and launcher, and develop your own apps without asking (or paying) for permission.