What's in a word?
When you hear the word 'open', what do you think of? Is it the ability to do whatever you want without fear of being charged or blocked from that action. Is it the ability to view the make up and source coding of something? Well, Android has always had the word 'open' attached to it, but things may be changing.
Restrictions and backends
I remember when Android devices truly had an open quality to them. Bootloaders were unlocked and applications were able to install without being charged on the backend. This all seems to be crashing down on the current state of the Android industry.
Manufacturers are locking bootloaders, disallowing us to root the phone and change the ROM to out liking. We are almost stuck with what a phone manufacturer wants us to have. There is no customization to a device that we rightfully paid for. Blocking the end-user from properly custom-tailoring a phone is killing the openness of the Android industry as a whole.
Carriers, such at AT&T and Verzion play a big part in this collapse as well. Rooting your phone meant a number of wonderful things in the past, but the whole atmosphere of Android is changing, all due to phone carriers. Root apps were something that dreams were made for. These apps allowed you to do practically anything on the phone, more than what the manufacturer had allowed for. Thanks to ZDNet, I am reminded of one particular app that went from awesome, to painfully expensive.
I, as many others, looked forward to rooting my phone in order to make a wireless hotspot out of it. This would allow me to connect my laptop (or multiple devices) to the cell phone for an internet connection that went further than the 4" screen I was used to. Google released a wireless tether application that only worked on unlocked phones. The problem now is that carriers such as Verizon are charging end users on the backend for these services. This means charges that seemingly pop out of nowhere, all because of an application that can be downloaded directly from the Android market.
I dream of open
So how open is Android? Well if you ask me, it's been a steady decline of the past few years, thanks to phone manufactures and carriers that have put heavy restrictions on the way you and I use our phones. It's true that you can still view the source code for Android, but what is the source code for an OS when you can't do anything you like on it. I for one long for a day when rooting my phone and changing the ROM took 2 steps instead of 10 steps with a hidden fear of bricking a device, voiding a warranty, or being charge an arm and a leg. My only hope is that manufacturers stop locking bootloaders and carriers realize that charging for services that are native to Android is a bad idea. I dream of a truly open Android industry.
Image credit: norebbo.com