It can’t be denied that as an example of a successful Open Source project, Android is leading the pack. An IDC report (http://www.idc.com/prodserv/smartphone-os-market-share.jsp) revealed that in Q3 2014 Android is dominating the global smartphone market with a massive 84.4 per cent market share. That is huge.
By making Android free for anyone to use and modify, manufacturers and mobile phone carriers have had a free reign to do anything they wish. This has enabled a far greater take up of the operating system and some would say, helped to grow the market by providing much greater choice in terms of features and capabilities, but also spending budgets. Now anyone can afford a smartphone or tablet with prices as low as £50 for a handset.
It is hard to see how this would have been possible without making Android free to use and modify. Big businesses are taking note of this and other Open Source projects, so that the Open Source ideology is spreading to other areas of the tech world.
Last year in June, Elon Musk founder of Tesla Motors, announced in a blog post that “in the spirit of the open source movement” they have released all of their patents for electric car technology.
The article goes on to explain the whys of the decision, which you can read here. http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/all-our-patent-are-belong-you
In simple terms, they did not want to hinder an emerging market by laying “intellectual property landmines” for their competitors. They understood that by doing this, the market would grow and everyone would benefit.
Incidentally, if anyone has a spare Tesla Model S they aren’t using…
In a similar move to Tesla, Toyota made a big annoucement this month (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30691393). They are releasing almost 6,000 patents for hydrogen fuel cell technology in the hopes that it will drive development in cars that use the alternative fuel source. I love the sense of optimism in this quote by Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations, when he said “When good ideas are shared, great things can happen”.
That to me sums up the whole Open Source movement. Sharing ideas and collaboration on a massive scale is the way forward.