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Apple loses German patent court case (bbc.co.uk)
68 points by akulbansal 1821 days ago | hide | past | web | 51 comments | favorite



This is seriously good news. I want open source to eventually win the war.


Unfortunately, Android is not really open source :(

Edit: If you think this statement is not true, please look at Debian or any other REAL open source project compare it to Android. Android uses Open-Source as a marketing term, not in it's original meaning ... (or at least in how I understand open source)


I stand that it is: http://source.android.com/

Some people like to state that gmail, maps, the play store and other proprietary Google bits are not open source and that is true, but those are not android. Those are separate apps.

Some like to claim that since Google gives vendors early access to the source, this somehow makes it not open. For those releases, at that specific date in time, maybe so. But, the source is released and generally pretty soon after phones start shipping (honeycomb was a different story and Google's statements on the matter have been proven to be true with the new combined tablet and phone releases).

Look, if android wasn't open source, projets like this would be a lot less successful: http://www.cyanogenmod.com/


The point at which Apple's culture significantly shifted away from open source was the point at which they hid all their source code until after the OS was released.

This completely breaks the OSS community and contribution model.

Back in 2002, it was possible to contribute code to the current in-development version of Mac OS X. Now it's not, and iOS-specific OS code isn't provided at all.


Ok? What's this have to do with android? An anecdote is just that. We can't compare past Apple behavior to that of Google. They are very different companies in many ways.


It means that:

A) closed development breaks the OSS community model -- that's not anecdote, just fact.

B) We have a past example of the slippery slope of closed development.


Depends on what you call Android... If you talk about the "Android open-source software stack" ..yes that's "open" (I would still not see it as open source as for me it's the community that matters). If you talk about the Android smart phone os ... no that's not open-source.


For me "open-source" stands for community driven with open repository. It's a way to develop (not a source dump after a while of closed source development).

Also I argue that Android as a smart phone OS is NOT open-source, as you desperately need binary code for basic OS functionality.


Sigh, this whole Android is open or not argument is degenerating into the kind of arguments over 'Copyright infringement vs. Stealing'.

Here's one good solution, call the open Android as Androidium(on the lines of Chrome vs. Chromium).

Very good article on the openness of Android and to implement the above proposal.

http://marketingland.com/what-is-the-one-true-android-and-ho...

>Some like to claim that since Google gives vendors early access to the source, this somehow makes it not open. For those releases, at that specific date in time, maybe so. But, the source is released and generally pretty soon after phones start shipping (honeycomb was a different story and Google's statements on the matter have been proven to be true with the new combined tablet and phone releases).

The problem came to fore when Acer got threatened with being cut off early access etc. when they wanted to launch other phones with Alibaba OS (Aliyun) on them. It's sort of a Android fork, but that's legal, but still Acer had to fold under the pressure or force getting cut off from their mobile business. Early access is much more important to OEMs than you make it seem to be and being able to fork is the core tenet of open source.

>Look, if android wasn't open source, projets like this would be a lot less successful: http://www.cyanogenmod.com/

You know what, barely anyone would use CM if they couldn't get access to the Play Store and Google Apps like Map. So they download it illegally from other sources. CM used to provide them but got a warning from Google. So right now they wink-wink-nudge-nudge towards the Play Store.


I like the androidium idea. It would help with the confusion.

The acer problem is an interesting thing to examine closer. The issue is that of android fragmentation. Vendors want to ship hardware asap (to their own detriment at times). Google is more interested in the long term viability of the OS. I think the acer threat is a good thing. It's good that Google maintains this leverage. Otherwise, android will fragment and die. Vendors were pushing hard to get a tablet OS out before it was ready. Google capitulated and offered up honeycomb, but soon learned that wasn't viable. They had to do something to give themselves more time to present a unified strategy.

I disagree that CM would die without pirated roms. I do agree however, that this has a lot to do with it's popularity. Keep in mind that the play store, maps, and other services aren't open for a reason. Sometimes it's because the technology uses proprietary bits that Google expects to monetize (maps) and other times it has to do with legal concerns (the play store, which allows in store purchases).


I agree with what you said about Google doing these things for the good of the Android ecosystem, but the problem is with calling Android "open". There are a lot of caveats to that statement which almost always go unmentioned by the person calling it open.


> The problem came to fore when Acer got threatened with being cut off early access etc. when they wanted to launch other phones with Alibaba OS (Aliyun) on them. It's sort of a Android fork, but that's legal, but still Acer had to fold under the pressure or force getting cut off from their mobile business. Early access is much more important to OEMs than you make it seem to be and being able to fork is the core tenet of open source.

At first glance it looked like Google was going mental about Acer and Alibaba forking Android, but later on it became clear that their Aliyun OS was to be released with all the Google Apps preinstalled, which of course is not allowed. Hence all the drama at Google. Combine that with the fact that Alibaba is a big company in Asia, which gives Google reasons enough to step up.

> You know what, barely anyone would use CM if they couldn't get access to the Play Store and Google Apps like Map. So they download it illegally from other sources. CM used to provide them but got a warning from Google. So right now they wink-wink-nudge-nudge towards the Play Store.

Same issue here. Not allowed to come with Google Apps preinstalled. But unlike Aliyun, CM is not a competitor in the smartphone OS market. It just provides an alternative to the standard installed Android OS with custom manufacturer skin (Sense, TW, ...) and often bloated apps. Although Google forbids CM to come prepackaged with Gapps, I highly doubt Google would ever go on a crusade against CM for providing links to the Gapps packages floating freely on the net. After all, with a few exceptions, only people owning a genuine Android phone would ever flash CM. Having the ability to still flash Gapps would continue to extend their value as a customer to Google due to ad and Play Store revenue.

It's just Google enforcing their policy concerning the Play Store and Google Apps in the entire Open Source story that is Android. It's actually Google that's wink-wink-nudge-nudge-ing the entire custom rom developer scene. Plenty of ways for Google to DRM their apps to prevent the likes of CM from using them, but they won't.


Cyanogen Mods


Excuse me?


They are possible because Android is open source.

Edit: overlooked that you already mentioned them. The argument "nobody uses them without Play and Maps" is invalid, though.


>The argument "nobody uses them without Play and Maps" is invalid, though.

Why? CM is legally prohibited from bundling Play Store, Google apps like Mail, Youtube, Maps, Currents, Now etc. etc.

In fact, Google sent them a C&D for doing so.

http://phandroid.com/2009/09/25/cyanogen-gets-cd-from-google...

If users cannot obtain them from (sometimes shady) filesharing sites, how many using CM currently would have installed it?


Still, the OS is open source, even if some of the apps are not. Number of installs is not a relevant metric for open sourceness.


The OP I was replying to said that projects like CM won't be popular if Android wasn't open source.

I replied that CM's popularity is a direct result of people committing copyright infringement by providing and downloading non-open source Google apps. Won't cutting that off reduce the popularity of CM?

AOSP is open. Android? Probably not so much, since it includes the Play Store and Google Apps in common usage of the term. Don't you see the technical distinction between Android and AOSP?


I'm not so sure that cutting off access to play has as much to do with the popularity as much as vendors "abandoning" their devices.

The only way I can run a "modern" version of Android on my Viewsonic Gtablet is by using CM, and I don't care that I don't have access to google play on it. The Amazon marketplace is free to download and install and the apps work great.


What's the difference between "Androidium" and AOSP?


It's cooler, and kinda rhymes with Chromium (which is to Chrome what Androidium will be to Android).


There's probably no difference technically, but you don't see people using that term much. For example, in this thread we see people saying Android is open, instead of AOSP is open.

Perhaps increasing the usage of the AOSP term will suffice.


I think you mean "not very open", as in not community built, or some other type of extreme openness like that (open <-> close is a scale, it's not black or white). But I'd argue that while Android should remain open source (you can use the source once it's ready), it should be even more "closed", in the sense that Google needs to have a lot more control over what the manufacturers/their partners can do with Android.

Why? Because it's the only way to ensure a cohesive "ecosystem" that helps not only Google and their Android users, but also the manufacturers themselves in the long run. After all, if everyone had their own little fork of Android, and there wouldn't be an "ecosystem" anymore, that wouldn't benefit them at all, as these days it's all about "platform wars", and splitting one big platform into 10 different ones would actually hurt the manufacturers, not help them.

This is why I think Google needs to "close" Android even more i.e. standardize it a lot more, and even demand from manufacturers to release their drivers. It would be awesome if they told them to release open source drivers, but even closed source ones would be useful, because if everyone did this, Android could actually (eventually) work like Windows.

You would be able to install "Android" on any 2-3 year old smartphone or tablet. But that's only if the manufacturers would be forced to release those drivers and maintain the support for that amount of time. And that's only possible if the Android ecosystem becomes a little tigher/more closed, or "less open" (as in manufacturers can't do whatever they want, and they must obey a set of rules for the well being of the ecosystem).


Yes, I was pointing at the community aspect of open-source. Just to get some source dumps after a while does not mean "open-source" to me. Seems people at Hacker News see this differently.

Yet, I agree with your comments, in general. Why not split it like they did for Chrome (suggestion in the comment below).


>Yes, I was pointing at the community aspect of open-source

There is a good reason for that. Show me one "community driven" open source project successful in the scale that Android is. Think about it, think about the other community driven SmartPhone OS projects and why they failed. What trade offs Google makes with Android are very fair and necessary - once they get the kernel bits in Korg it will only get better.


They are already exerting control over what their vendors can and can't do. See asus aliyun debacle.


That's a pretty extreme example and really more of a Google vs carrier battle than a Google vs Asus battle. Aliyun was trying to establish a Play competitor and lock Google out--you can't expect Google to play along. Since Honeycomb Google's been pretty strong relative to manufacturers. The biggest pre-Honeycomb threat was Motorola that was thrashing to cut Google out and get back in control (Skyhook, BlurOS) and... well you can see how the constellations happened to align there. What Google was threatening to yank wasn't access to Android, but access to the Platform Development Kit and possibly unannounced Nexus projects--i.e. access to the pre-Open Source drops. Someone like Amazon can pull that off because they don't care, but certainly Asus doesn't have the muscle. Asus was free to choose Aliyun or Google, it's not Asus's fault that Aliyun isn't as valuable.


> but access to the Platform Development Kit and possibly unannounced Nexus projects--i.e. access to the pre-Open Source drops

As far as I understand, it also meant access to all google services for all acer (not asus, my mistake) smartphones. So it's an ultimatum after all.


Acer


I should proofread my comments better, acer indeed.


Really? The last time I checked I was able to download the source code and do something with it on my own. Could you please justify your statement?


For me open source means something else. Maemo was a real open source platform. Android is not:

1. You can download part of the source (part is closed).

2. The source you can download and compile does not run on any phone (without some binaries).

3. Can you please send me the svn link to the newest pre-release version of Android (newer then Jelly Bean)?

So as a recap you can download part of the OS as source code. That's something you can also do for iOS. Apple gives you part s to download (to comply with licenses). Admitted Android is way more open than iOS.

Yet, to call it open-source discredits any real open source projects like Debian.

Just because you get some source dump from Doom e.g., after it's been developed, does not make it open source, at least not in my definition. Doom was still a closed source project, as Android is. You just get some source dumps once in a while.

Downvote me as much as you want ;)

Edit: fixed a typo


I don't think a downvote is necessary :)

It seems as though you're coming down on Android pretty hard. On my laptop I can't get my Broadcom wireless card to work without binaries. I also can't get my NVIDIA graphics card working either. Is that the fault of Debian? Does that make Debian any less open? It's more the fault of the hardware provider. I don't think that Android takes away from Debian at all. I think the open-ness lies in the licensing. For example, is qmail open source?


Here the problem ... Google partners with handset manufacturers and markets Android as open / open-source. For me the core functionalities of a smart phone are to call smb., mail, maps and installing 3rd party apps. All four are NOT open-source in any definition (3g modem, gmail, google maps and play).

No Debian is not at fault there, yet the debian community does not have direct links and influence on hardware manufacturers.

Imagine a Debian, where the most of it is open source (after some time), yet the core functionalities you use daily are all closed source. Is it still open-source? :)


I think you're probably just using the wrong term. Android does not have an open development model (which is certainly a downside), but they are certainly open-source.


Because Google and everyone else in the Android ecosystem* don't care.

*EDIT: I don't mean third party developers when I said 'ecosystem'. I mean the manufacturers.

They're in it for a profit like everyone else, and "open" is just a good a marketing strategy toward tech-minded people as any other. Consumers, on the other hand, still do not care.


But why should it matter whether they are in it for the money or not. The fact of the matter is that their source is open and people can take it and do things with it.


That's not what the definition of "Open" is.


> Android uses Open-Source as a marketing term

Oh really? https://twitter.com/Arubin/status/27808662429


Have you tried that? What have you got? There is some interesting thinking there going on. Apple releases lame maps and everyone goes "Android is superior there", but when you cannot get for the source of this app for android then we get "Maps are not really Android".


The issue with Maps is the data. Open source is about code, not data.


Yes, then what about the source code for google maps, gmail and google play? Are they open source? Do you get them doing your git checkout?


My point is that the value of Google Maps is not in the interface, it's in the data. Apple Maps has the interface down ― that's the easy part.

Google has never claimed that apps specific to its services were part of Android to begin with, so your point is moot.


Dumping your source code into a repository after release may technically be open source, but it isn't in the spirit of community developed open source.


> In a separate case being heard in Munich, the court backed Apple's claim that Motorola had infringed its patent on what happened when users scrolled to the end of a page, document or list - a technology known as "overscroll bounce" or "rubber banding".

That is also what the Chrome browser does..


I wonder how they plan to win that one, given that there are no software patents in Germany. (Only if software is used in connection with a "technical" invention)


To be clear, Apple already did win that case: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/sep/14/motorola-mo...

Nothing about that makes sense to me, but that's patents for you.


I'm confused as well. Every claim of the patent begins with "A computer-implemented method..." so it is definitely a software patent.

I think this is just for damage and they have to counter-sue for invalidility separately.


HTC has a variation on this in HTC Sense 4 where lists stretches rather than bounces - i.e. the gaps between the list elements get progressively wider to mimic pulling an elastic band that is fixed on one end. I'm guessing they do that too avoid directly copying Apple's UX. It achieves the same goal of proving a real world effect to subtly indicate to the user they can scroll no further.


"...in a smartphone" is the new "...on a computer".


i wonder how much of the Apple tax can be attributed to bringing about patent litigation.




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