-- By Bruce Gustafson
7/12/18, 12:08 PM CET
Thomas Vinje is transparent about his bias as spokesman for the complainant in the Android case in his recent article for POLITICO, “Why Android is Google’s Trojan horse.” But that doesn’t excuse his oblique swipe at the developer community and the impact that disrupting the Android ecosystem would have on this group.
Unlike the billionaires driving this case, independent developers and startups are not organized or equipped to effectively represent themselves before the European Commission, and so the Developers Alliance has taken up their cause. Google is a member of the Alliance, it’s true, as is Facebook, Intel, Ford and a pair of U.S.-based Internet service providers. But that short list discounts the much larger list of members from mid-size developers to startups. Vinje, on the other hand, does not — and should not — speak for the developer community on Android or anything else.
Developers are more than able to speak for themselves. More than 80 have done so by signing on to a letter to the Commission that highlights the impact a bad decision would have on their community. Developers today benefit from a dynamic mobile ecosystem. Competition is alive and healthy in both the application market and the mobile operating system market; Apple’s IOS success is the simple proof of that. And while Google’s in-house apps compete with independent applications, developers are prepared for that challenge and choose to compete in the marketplace, not in front of the regulator.
If the Android operating system were to be forked, as Vinje suggests, it would drive up developer costs as they tried to modify and maintain applications for a multitude of operating systems, without increasing the size of the market itself. It would reduce consumer choice, as developers wouldn’t adapt their services for every potential platform until the OS had proven itself. It would introduce new security risks for everyone. That developers are seeking to defend an ecosystem upon which their business depends should come as no surprise to anyone.
The Developers Alliance actually does represent developers, and the Android case can do real harm to them, so we’re engaged. Our position is not altruistic, and we are not defending open source. Our argument is purely economic and made on behalf of the thousands of people that make a living, in part, by using the Android platform to get their applications into the hands of consumers. We implore the Commission to avoid taking steps that would damage an ecosystem that drives so much economic benefit for entrepreneurs and innovators across the EU.
President & CEO, the Developers Alliance