11 October 2010

Dell Streak

Dell released a new cell phone several months ago called the Streak. It is an incredible device with a 5" screen, 1gHz processor and it runs Googles excellent Android operating system. I was really excited to hear about this because I am a huge proponate od Open Source Software. The iPhone is a great phone and I've had two, but I really dislike the fact that Apple rules the iPhone with an iron fist and tells the users what they can and can't do with the phone they own. To be fair, this keeps the iPhone really stable and smooth with less chance of the user becoming victim of any nefarious exploits and viruses.

Back to the Streak. Dell released it with an absolutely ancient version of Android (1.6 vs the current 2.2) and then didn't release any of the software sources. Part of the GPL license says that Dell must release all the source code used to mek their binaries. To Dell's credit, they eventually released the code after being asked. Very quickly, developers realized that Dell only released some of the sources and incomplete sources. Again with the gentle prodding and Dell finally released their entire 1.6 and 2.1 sources.

Private development very rapidly took off. It took no longer than a week that guys were releasing 2.2 Android ROMs. I've seen notes where Dell executives are using the aftermarket ROM! How embarrassing should that be?

Why doesn't Dell simply open source the entire phone? Development would take off like a rocket. Incredible things would get done to the phone. You'd have to believe it would help sales.

Instead, we have Dell pulling an "Apple" on us. Thanks.

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