Honeycomb source code to remain closed until Q4? Who has access now?

Posted by Charbax – May 11, 2011

Who in the industry has access to Honeycomb 3.0 and 3.1 source code today? We were hoping for Google to announce 3.1 being open sourced around Google I/O but now it seems Google might not provide any Honeycomb open source code before Ice Cream Sandwich in Q4 this year?

Also watch the Android team's response to Android being 100% open source (including all the drivers) (at 16m20s time code)

I understand the gigantic work involved for Google to write all the code, implement the programming APIs and everything else involved around Ice Cream Sandwich. Regardless of how quickly Google put together Honeycomb for tablets to have something ready at Mobile World Congress in February, I think it would just look wrong if for some reason we only have $500+ Android tablets based on Tegra2 made by a handful of priviledged companies somehow having any type of Honeycomb software on them for another 6 months. Given the amount of companies (nearly 375 of them filmed here), small to medium sized, who are investing their futures in making Android tablets, Tegra2-Honeycomb-exclusivity-until-Q4 would probably be quite scandalous. This is what I am expecting must be happening right now secretly with the Honeycomb 3.0 and 3.1 source code behind the scenes:

1. All "serious" tablet companies using all the major ARM Processors do have access to Honeycomb now, or will get access very soon. By "serious" company, I could mean the companies in which Google can trust not to leak the source code. That could mean that these "serious" Android tablet companies need some kind of a track record of being serious with this market.

2. Google should be transparent about which chip provider does have access to Honeycomb source code today, and which chip provider will get access soon. I believe all chip makers from at least ARM Cortex-A8 performance and upwards should be allowed to work on optimizing any current Honeycomb source code to work and timely be shipped with all the tablets that do get released with those specific chips in them. I do not believe that a Tegra2-only club for Honeycomb would be taken with a smile from the rest of the industry. All chip providers that have tablet makers showing products on the market and showcasing them at all the "serious" tradeshows today, including AmLogic, Freescale, Marvell, NEC/Renesas, Qualcomm, Rockchip, ST-Ericsson, Samsung, Telechips, Texas Instruments, VIA, all those should get that access and be able to ship Android tablets with Honeycomb in Q3 this year.

I've sent some of my Google contacts some questions regarding the actual status and plans for Honeycomb's source code and support on the variety of ARM chip providers, while I am waiting for their reply, I wouldn't know for sure what the actual happenings are behind closed doors before, during and after Google I/O in terms of officially supporting Honeycomb 3.1 on other platforms than just Tegra2.

Google needs to officially confirm that they are working with these ARM processors to support Honeycomb 3.1 in Q3 this year and I think that most Android tablet fans would be totally happy and satisfied:

- Freescale i.MX53 Cortex-A8 1Ghz
- Samsung Hummingbird ARM Cortex-A8 1Ghz
- Samsung Exynos 4210 ARM Dual Cortex-A9 1.2Ghz
- TI OMAP4440 ARM Dual Cortex-A9 1.6Ghz
- Marvell Armada 600
- Qualcomm MSM7227 ARM11 600Mhz 45nm with Adreno
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 8255 1.5Ghz 45nm
- Qualcomm Snapdragon Dual 8620 1.5Ghz
- Rockchip RK2918 ARM Cortex-A8 1.2Ghz
- Telechips 8803 ARM Cortex-A8 1.2Ghz
- NEC/Renesas EV2 ARM Dual Cortex-A9 533Mhz
- AmLogic ARM Single Cortex-A9 800Mhz

If Google has been and is cooperating with at least each of these SoC platforms, then I think we have no problem.

But if on the other hand, it somehow turns out that most of these alternative SoC vendors are somehow locked out of the Honeycomb party until finally getting source code access in Q4 and maybe not being able to release actual tablets with that code before Q1 2012, well then I think there will be some very angry people around the worldwide Android tablet industry.

Given the relatively big level of secrecy from all SoC vendors involved, I would like to interpret that as a clue that they must all be silently and cooperatively working closely with Google ever since before even the Motorola Xoom was released last February. And if they didn't all have access already before last February, then hopefully they have all quietly gotten access or are getting access by now.

Google announced that over 100 Million Android Smartphones have been sold thus far. If 80% of those are sold on 2-year contracts generating revenues at an average of $1200 per phone over the 2-year contracts (in the US for example that number is most often higher than $2000), then that could mean Google's Android has a huge influence on a global revenue of potentially more than $120 Billion, possibly over $80 Billion of which have been generated just in 2010 alone, with 2011 global Android industry revenues possibly clinching upwards twice as much as Smartphone growth is more than doubling every year. The Android Smartphone may be a $160 Billion industry in 2011 alone. Over $250 Billion in 2012 maybe. We are not talking peanuts. And with all analysts saying Tablets are the post-PC interface, Google may feel some type of pressure from the big guys of tech, not only the manufacturers but also the carriers (who are touching most of those huge Android related revenues), so it can be understandable that Google does things very carefully around Android, and to bring Android's market share from 40% to over 80% in the next few months, Google may want to focus on top level secrecy in all of their cutting edge Android developments.

While I can understand that, and as a huge Google fanboy I want them to dominate over everything, but let's see if we can get more informations on Honeycomb openness and the industry's access to Honeycomb now under this Google I/O conference. I haven't yet watched the Google Executives Q&A with Andy Rubin where some of the Android openness questions are answered, if anyone has the link to that video or any other related sources of informations please post those links in the comments.

If you are an industry insider and if you would like to tell me any secret information about the status of Honeycomb in the industry related to 3.1's likelyhood to work on any or all of these SoCs during Q3 this year, you are welcome to contact me at charbax@gmail.com and if you want I can keep your name secret if you allow me to report here on your info.