What to Do When You’re a Young Developer? Read All the Patents
Over the year, we’ve talked about both good and bad OEMs with regards to developer support. We are now well aware that Samsung is no longer the developer friendly brand it once was, and HTC is seemingly fighting against everyone. But not all OEMs want to be the bad guys, as Sony releases device trees and blobs for some devices, Oppo has always been developer friendly, and Motorola simply likes the spirit of open source.
XDA is a place for hackers and developers—those who do some amazing things crossing the limits set forth by companies focused on getting every last cent out of your pocket. OEMs often cease supporting their devices because fewer updates means more money—but they’re more than happy to sell you a new device with faster everything and more features. And to add these new features, they must start inventing things and registering new patents. For the unaware, Microsoft indirectly receives $2 Billion every year from Android because of patents. And let’s not even get into all the patent legislation drama.
Luckily, XDA is full of great developers capable of developing some really amazing things from scratch. We also try to look out for our developers whenever possible, and that’s why it hurts us when one of our developers receives a threatening letter from a large corporation. Recently, we were informed that one of the good guys, Motorola, asked a 17-year-old developer to remove a few features from one of his applications due to patents. Wait, what?! A kid? Yes, A 17-year-old kid. Motorola could have taken many other possible routes, including purchasing rights to the application to improve their own Active Display implementation, or even giving the developer an internship opportunity. Many of these young developers are the future leaders of such companies, and treating them badly will result in negative stigma towards the brand. On the bright side, at least Motorola has thus far allowed the application to remain in the Play Store, as they have not yet filed a DMCA take down request.
So, what must a new developer with a good idea do? He or she must check the Internet to find if he’s violating any patents and copyrights. After careful investigation, said developer must make something that is worse than anything else similar. That would reduce the chance of being threatened. Otherwise, a young developer who makes an innovative application may be forced to remove his work from the Internet because a large OEM finds him or her to be a worthy contender. Obviously we’re being facetious, but it would be nice to see a more friendly attitude taken towards independent developers—especially those who cannot yet legally vote.