Google has to free up technologies that can have the most impact in an open environment. Technologies like cellular networks and broad-area wireless coverage, such as the 700mhz networks they helped to free, are the pathway to the future. Additionally, I agree that the opening up of the social networking standards, cell phone platforms, music formats, etc, is all the way of the future. In fact, the very industries that built up these technologies will die without openness.
However, we didn’t get to this point easily, and we definitely could not have gotten here without initially constructing closed, proprietary systems. In fact, I’m all for closed systems and technology, at least for the beginning stages of growth and adoption. When a company develops a new technology and keeps it closed, it encourages that company to pour as much as it can into the tech, building it up to make it the biggest and best. Additionally, fundamental values, operating procedures, and quality control are concentrated. If, for example, the wireless 700mhz spectrum were always a freely available chunk of spectrum, I think that its effectiveness would become diluted. Way too many people would be making half-assed efforts to use it, and it would never be able to concentrate that critical mass of userbase, tech base, and monetary support.
Going forward, I’m eager to see where we go in developing new applications based on formerly closed, now opened technologies. If the industry can break out of the molds already made by the industry, we could begin to see some really killer technologies. Google’s Android and Open Social are just the beginning.
The one potential step back that i see the industry trying to take is Net Neutrality. I’m all for it, and think that the reason the internet is great, and will continue to be great is that its neutral – bandwidth is bandwidth. So let’s keep it open too, ok?