Embedded specialist Wind River has launched a validated version of Google's Android platform, bringing revenue generation to the open-source model.
Android gets a lot of attention for being free, but most manufacturers would prefer to pay for their handset OS in exchange for support and improved capabilities, as well as additional features the seller might chuck in. Until now Android has been a single-source product.
The Android model should be much like Linux - you can download it for free, or get a distribution strapped to the back of a book for which you pay, or get yourself a boxed CD, manual and licence from Red Hat, and you pay for the amount of support you feel you need. But handset manufacturers wanting Android have had to rely on Google for everything, and that's not good for Android's long-term future.
Wind River isn't listing prices for its version of Android; that will be volume-dependent, but the company has a history of selling embedded Linux so knows what devices manufacturers will pay for. Wind River will be offering their own widget pack and user-interface layers, along with optimisation for TI's OMAP processors.
Commercialisation of Android is essential if it's going to survive when Google's largesse runs out, and this is a first step in that direction. If Wind River can't make money out of Android then it's unlikely anyone can, and that would be bad news for the future of the platform - so we'll be watching this with interest. ®