The story of Android and how it gave free software the right WAF-factor(Wife Acceptance Factor)

In the «Pre-Android period» gadgets from Apple and computers from Microsoft had what you might call a higher wife acceptance factor, meaning it was more likely to be adapted by non technical users.

When I started out playing with free software more the 15 years ago the terms free software and open sources had a very high geek-factor associated with them . At this time it was hard to imagine any laptop or device running free software taking marked shares from Windows.

For companies developing proprietary software it was also very important to label free software as low quality and unreliable. This has changed dramatically over the last 15 years and Android played an important part in this journey.

Android gave the word disruptive a whole new meaning

The year is 2008. The first GoOpen conference is about to kick off in Oslo.

When the Director of free software at Google, Chris Dibona enters the stage as one of the conference’s keynotes, he talks about how Google has built its business with free software.

He also talks about how they are already well underway to expand Googles business, not only to cover search, ads and video (acquisition of Youtube). At this point it was already known that Google had launchd the first version of a mobile operating system in November 2007  that was based on Linux – the name was Android.

The first phone with Android was released in Norway the next summer and in only 18 months Android dominated the market for smart phones in our country. Sins the launch in 2007 Android have taken over markeds across the world with nearly 1.5 billion users at the end of 2015. This despite the fact that both Apple, Microsoft and the Finnish mobile company we have forgotten the name of,  did every thing possible to dominate the same space during this period.

From the start Google and their partners had a totally different business model, letting different vendors develop new devices based on the same core system. This gave the marked many different devices and the vendors freedom to build on the same software commodities. The key in this approach is an open plattform in an open marked.

The story of Android is important for many reasons, but primarily because it shows that by rethinking a business model completely, it is possible to change a large market in a very short period of time.

An important thing to remember, the mayor topic that concerned most free software activist in 2007-2008 was not Android but the document formats and the battle between OOXML and ODF. During the GoOpen conference in 2008 a friend of mine, Håkon Wium Lie, organized a demonstration that ended up in front of the Norwegian Parliament, with the slogan “OOXML – Go to hell.”

Little did we know that it was not ODF and OpenOffice but Android that would cause a breakthrough for free and open source software and give it all so important Wife Acceptance Factor.