There have been some big changes at Google lately. Larry Page is the CEO of Google and he is changing things around. Andy Rubin is defending their decision to not publish the code to Honeycomb (Android 3.0).
Larry Page is changing the way decisions are made at Google. A few years ago, it seemed like Google was showing off something very cool. As your company gets bigger and bigger, they create layers of management to “insulate” the engineers. Some of Google’s best ideas came from engineers and over time managers “insulate” you with no. The culture of “no” can pervade even small companies where a single manager says “no” because it is safer that saying “yes”. And when that “no” project becomes successful all of those “no” managers are there to take credit. I can only hope Google goes back to the way it was.
Next and more disconcerting is Google not releasing Android 3.0’s source code. The product is already released on the Motorola Xoom. Andy Rubin himself once responded to Apple’s lack of openness with a tweet showing how to pull down Android’s source code. Google is saying the source code for Honeycomb just isn’t ready and it will be release once it is ready. Some people are concerned this is a portent for Android going closed source. Google’s code can be closed, but there are other libraries and technologies that prevents it from going completely closed. The biggest one is the Linux kernel that Android uses.
I can understand being reluctant to publish source code that is hacked together and ugly. I think most companies wouldn’t want the entire world to see the ugly underbelly of their bad code. Here’s hoping that Google will do the right thing once they are ready.