On Wednesday, the G1 Google phone for T-Mobile with Android – the first “free, open source and fully customizable mobile platform” – was made available in stores to the general public. A geek at heart, I was anxious to check out the much anticipated Android Market, which allows third-party developers to create applications with the Android-provided source code.
I trudged out to T-Mobile to pick one up. When we walked in, I was greeted by the store manager in his limited-edition G1 T-shirt. “Hi, welcome to T-Mobile, what can I help you with today?” As if he didn’t already know.
Within 45 minutes I had my G1 and, with a sigh, I turned off my beloved BlackBerry (stripped of its SIM card) for the last time. Leaving my BlackBerry behind was bittersweet – such a reliable phone … never had a problem with it.
So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Absolutely not. Although I had gotten used to the reliability of my BlackBerry, it was a stagnant sense of “fine.” Nothing was wrong, but things could get better. Things like open source applications and no one dictating which apps “belonged” to the platform. The possibilities are endless.
In an ironic twist, the day before the G1 hit stores, Microsoft declared it “Anti-Piracy Day.” Digital rights management schemes invoke negative reactions from many end users, which made me wonder — here’s the ironic part — if going open source would eliminate the licensing and piracy efforts companies like Microsoft are concerned with? Open source allows developers to create and edit without the licensing issues.
But, of course, it’s not just the Microsofts of the world that are affected — piracy harms the open source community as well. The need for creativity and the feeling of “giving back to the community” provided by open source could be harmed if people aren’t paying exorbitant prices for their pirated copy of MS Office (getting it free or at a reduced rate) – why bother working towards a change?
So, don’t be a software pirate and look forward to the possibilities of open source — think of all the apps!