I am already hearing people screaming "Is Google bribing developers?" or "Don't they know cash and open source together do not mix?".
Well, I disagree ;-)
Google is making another smart move. They have a platform and no phones. For six months at least. Who in his/her right mind would develop applications for Android, if nobody can use them? Maybe a couple of crazy Google addicts. But not the developers I know... You do open source for fun, but fun includes people seeing what you did. Nothing you can show today, if you build on Android...
So Google pays developers. As an incentive. To get applications on Android. ASAP.
Why don't I think mixing open source and cash is a bad idea? Well, because my ego is too big :-) Funambol was the first to introduce a cash component for open source developers, over a year ago. We launched the Phone Sniper program back then, giving $25 to developers willing to test and fix a device for the community. Ok, $25 is not exactly $10M, but it does not change the concept behind it :-))
I can tell you we did not receive one single complaint. Actually, we have hundreds of people who contributed and we sent out $20 to every corner of the planet (thanks to Paypal, I am not sure how this would have worked without it...). Phone Sniper has been a phenomenal success for us.
When I announced Phone Sniper on my blog, I wrote:
Now the question: wait, are you giving them cash??? Isn't this open source, where everybody works for free, you love each other and just want to topple Micro$oft because it is evil?Wow, is Google reading my blog and taking a page off my book?? Nah, keep the ego in check... But it is fantastic to see Google working to build a mobile open source client platform that will match our mobile open source server platform. And doing that following our path (wait, stop, they are not, it is just a coincidence. Damn ego...).
Yes, this is open source. The source is open. Everybody benefits from it. We love each other because of this.
Nope, not everybody works for free. Some need food on the table for their kids. And we do not care about Microsoft, we are just building the best platform possible for mobile.