Developer Week in Review: Mobile's embedded irony

Who really profits from Android sales? And does the world need another source control system?

Happy Lion day! For those of the Mac persuasion, today is a milestone, as Apple wraps the odometer around again, kicking it over to 10.7. Also, our favorite Penguin (and brother in POSIX arms) turns 20, complete with birthday wishes from Redmond. Many happy returns!

Free mobile OS, but with a patent surcharge

Microsoft continues to look for new and innovative (or old and litigious) ways to make money, and one of them is to squeeze Android handset manufacturers for a reported $15/unit in patent fees for every phone sold.

The irony stings sharp here. Android may be an open source operating system, but in order to actually buy an Android phone, you need to pony up patent money to the king of the closed source OS, Microsoft. And since (except for legal fees) Microsoft has no costs associated with the production of the unit, it’s 100% pure profit for Microsoft.

If you want to buy an HTC Droid phone, the story is getting even worse, because the ITC decided that HTC violated several Apple patents. That’s likely to lead to a similar arrangement with Apple.

Meanwhile, Blackberry (you remember them) is quickly becoming the also-ran of the mobile market, with a new survey showing a dismal 4% of potential buyers are now considering a Blackberry. This, combined with unconfirmed reports that the Blackberry PlayBook is in trouble, seem to point toward Android and iOS being the safest developer platforms for the near future.

On the other hand, Apple is now so successful that not only are the Chinese cloning the products, they’re cloning the stores!

Like fine wines…

As my eligibility for AARP looms, it’s good to know that my value as a developer is continuing to climb, at least on average. That’s the conclusion of a recent study, which found that older developers tended to have higher reputation values on StackOverflow.

This confirms a suspicion that I’ve fostered for a while, which is that for those developers who bother to keep up with the new stuff (the study showed that the population of developers decreases rapidly as they age), having a wide range of knowledge and broad experience does in fact have value.

Of course, part of the problem is that older developers tend to get sucked into management or transformed into architects, and some just don’t have the passion to keep up with the latest hot technologies. But if you can stick with it, and if companies are willing to recognize that more mature developers have value, the stigma of the older developer being put out on the ice to die may become a myth. Meanwhile, keep the heck off my lawn, you young punks!

git thee to a nunnery!

The git lovefest continues to swell this week, with Google Code adding git to their list of supported SCMs. With the move, Google achieves parity with well-known sites such as github and SourceForge, and gives developers looking for a place to call their project home yet another option.

Meanwhile, on the theory that you can never have enough standards, a new distributed source control system called Veracity is sticking its head out of the nest. I hate to squash innovation, but with git, Subversion, Mercurial and even cvs all fighting to be the One True source control system, isn’t adding another one just playing into the tyranny of choice paradox?

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