Google’s Android platform promised to be the most moddable mobile phone system ever created—and, in many ways, it is. With no other phone is it even possible to tweak the source code of the OS and publish a modified distribution, as is possible with Android. However, as modder Steve Kondik recently discovered, the userland apps that ship with Android are not freely licensed, so a customized firmware distro cannot include them. Structuring their licensing in this way provides no advantage to Google that I can see; even if they do not publish the source code to these apps, they could at least allow distribution under a freeware license. That they do not suggests to me that the carriers must want to control which apps come bundled for marketing purposes. I can only hope this is so, and that all carriers will one day become naught but dumb pipes.
Posted by– October 13, 2009