Back in 2007, Android was unveiled as an open source mobile operating system and platform by Open Handset Alliance, comprising of companies like Broadcom, HTC, Intel, LG, Marvell Technology Group, Motorola, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, Texas Instruments etc., and led by Google.
Since then, several pundits have blasted Android (and Google) for being more closed than open. Issues like Fragmentation and slow OS updates have blown up the voices calling out Android for being pseudo-open.
But guess what? The complete source code of Android OS is regularly made public by Google & OHA. The source code of even the latest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean was released recently. And, who are the benefactors? It’s not just the geeks who can now root & flash the latest CyanogenMod ROMs, but also startups and small-businesses like Ouya.
Ouya Gaming Console
Ouya is a low-cost, Android based gaming console which is completely hackable (without voiding the warranty) & just had the biggest launch day in the history of Kickstarter. Ouya has raised more than USD 2.2 million till now and still going strong.
I’m not going deep into what Ouya promises to do. Have a look at their introduction video for Kickstarter to understand more.
In a nutshell, Ouya is trying to address the stagnancy of console market and plans to get some of the best, most creative gamemakers who are now focused on mobile and social games to bring their games back on television. The way Kickstarter community has accepted Ouya proves that the consumers and developers are not going to wait for Apple, Google or Microsoft to figure out the next round of digital revolution.
For just $99, one can pre-order an Ouya console along with a controller. That’s a killer price for an hardware boasting Tegra 3 quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB flash memory, HDMI out, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and USB slots. But the real power comes in the form of a highly refined operating system, Android 4.0 ICS.
Startups like Ouya are able to get a head-start in tough markets like TV game consoles, thanks to open source projects like Android, which provides a high quality platform for free. THIS, for me, is truly the best part about Android. Thousands of smart developers from Google and other companies in OHA have put in lots of work to make Android a compelling platform. And now, startups like Ouya can reap in the benefits by building their businesses around Android, which eventually benefits game developers and common people.
Mind you, it is not just Ouya who is enjoying the ‘openness‘ of Android. We have seen several Smart TV products based on Android, like the Pocket TV & Equiso TV who are all trying to fill in the gaps in digitalization of living rooms. The trend has just started and it’s bound to get even better. Exciting times ahead!