Google open-sources Android

I lost my Blackberry Curve somewhere in England last week, so I ordered an HTC G1 from T-Mobile as a replacement. The Curve doesn’t do 3G, so it’s an obsolete product at this point. And as I’m already a T-Mobile customer (I chose them for the Wi-Fi capability of their Curves,) the path of least resistance to 3G goes through the G1. Just yesterday I was explaining to somebody that Android wasn’t really open source, but Google was apparently listening and decided to make a liar of me by open-sourcing Android:

With the availability of Android to the open-source community, consumers will soon start to see more applications like location-based travel tools, games and social networking offerings being made available to them directly; cheaper and faster phones at lower costs; and a better mobile web experience through 3G networks with richer screens.The easy access to the mobile platform will not only allow handset makers to download the code, but to build devices around it. Those not looking to build a device from scratch will be able to take the code and modify it to give their devices more of a unique flavor.

“Now OEMs and ODMs who are interested in building Android-based handsets can do so without our involvement,” Rich Miner, Google’s group manager for mobile platforms, told us earlier today. Some of these equipment makers are going to expand the role of Android beyond handsets.

This is good news, of course. I haven’t enjoyed the fact that T-Mobile sat between me and RIM for Blackberry software upgrades. The first add-on app that I’d like to see for the G1 is something to allow tethering a laptop to 3G via Bluetooth. I could tether the Curve, but as it only supports Edge it wasn’t incredibly useful.

In a more perfect world, I’d prefer the Treo Pro over the G1, but it doesn’t work on T-Mobile’s crazy array of AWS and normal frequencies, and is also not subsidized, so the G1 is a better deal. The Blackberry Storm is probably a better overall device than the G1, but it’s exclusive to Verizon so I would have had to pay a $200 early termination fee to get it. These phones are mainly for fun, so paying a fee to leave a carrier I basically like makes it all too serious.

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