For a long time, Google has led a largely blissful existence, fostering a widespread perception -- sometimes in direct contradiction to the facts -- that it can do no wrong. Yet the company's controversial Android mobile platform venture threatens to seriously dent this notion, at least with some of the people it needs most.
As it readies its long-anticipated open mobile OS for public release, Google is behaving in a way that threatens to permanently taint its relationship with many Android developers. The company's actions -- including restricting access to key development tools and allegedly treading on open source principles -- have created, if not a full-fledged revolt, at least a sense of disappointment and disillusionment among many in the tightly knit Android development community, which numbers perhaps 2,000, according to an estimate by AndroidGuys, an independent Android blog site. Some developers have threatened to shift their attention to other mobile platforms.
Mike Novak, a New York-based independent Android developer, says Google may be guilty of taking its developer base for granted. "Developers are the driving force behind Android applications, so without them it would be very hard for Android to have a stance in the market," he says.
Casey Borders, an independent Android developer in Columbus, Ohio, warns that Google will have to work hard to retain developer loyalty and attract new developers to its platform. "The Android platform has a very strong base and a lot of potential, but it also has a lot of competition," he warns.