JBQ – maintainer of all things holy at AOSP, is quitting

August 7, 2013
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AOSP has given us so many custom ROM's, and has extended the lifespan of many an Android.

AOSP has given us so many custom ROM’s, and has extended the lifespan of many an Android.

Today is a sad day for Android, folks.

Technical Lead, Android Open Source Project maintainer, and revered Android personality at Google, Jean Baptiste Queru, has announced he is leaving the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) at Google. And JBQ wasn’t just a mere employee at Android / Google, but really went the extra mile to help independent developers and keep things ‘open.’ As you’ll see from the quote below, JBQ was well known for his keenness to help developers:

So many of your posts on the forums have helped me with issues and I've learned so much from just reading.

JBQ is best known for his constant answering of questions from eager developers on Google Groups, and for ensuring that Android, at its core, was still open source. A very helpful character, JBQ is loved and respected by millions for the good work he has done.

While it’s highly unlikely that JBQ is leaving Google entirely, it does beg several questions as to how something like this could happen. How could JBQ –someone so committed to open source, to Android, and to Google be made to want to walk away?

jbq gplus aosp

The answer is simple – lawyers, IP, and the desire to keep things closed. Among the actors involved is Qualcomm. While JBQ isn’t allowed to comment on such matters because he is, for all intents and purposes, on the legal hook – the writing is on the wall.

Qualcomm is a notoriously quiet company that believes in vigorously defending its ‘proprietary’ intellectual property. And, they’ve a commanding lead in the SoC industry, and currently sell and make more SoC’s than any one single company.

And so, here we are today. We’ve lost arguably one of the largest proponents and champions of Android and open source because of the way lawyers and big business work. A sad day for Android, and a sad day for open source.

In order to understand, from the larger picture, why this problem is likely arising, let’s look at the SoC’s used in the Nexus line of devices:

It’s that second-to-last comment which points the [middle] finger at Qualcomm. And it’s pretty easy to figure out why, looking at the chipset supplier for each Nexus device.

  • Nexus One: Qualcomm
  • Nexus S: Samsung
  • Galaxy Nexus: TI
  • XOOM: Tegra
  • Nexus 7: Tegra
  • Nexus 4: Qualcomm
  • Nexus 10: Samsung
  • Nexus Q: TI
  • Nexus 7 (2013):Qualcomm

Based off the fact that we know all Qualcomm powered Nexus devices have run into substantial difficulties relating to publishing factory images and binaries, we’d say it’s a very easy conclusion to come to that Qualcomm is responsible here. Kudos to AndroidPolice for putting the dots together.

JBQ isn’t delving into specifics, and we understand why. Is this all because of Qualcomm’s willingness to play ball? Is there something bigger at work here?  My apologies that the above read like an obituary, but it truly is a sad day for Android and for open source.

Here’s to hoping everything works out. Any thoughts?

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