Sharing code is for individual developers and teams to decide on; it’s their work and their time and energy spent on producing the code. The Android development team Touchdroid have been working hard on their Android ROM for the HP Touchpad, a tablet by HP which has been discontinued – but not before a massive discount sale at an astounding $99 where 350,000 where sold. I tried buying a few for my family – sadly they’d sold out within hours; some within minutes!
It’s a pretty popular device, and noted to be well worth a team of developers spending time attempting to run Android on it. Especially when many people who bought the Touchpad weren’t only interested in the price, but also the prospect of eventually being able to replace WebOS with Android, without a doubt a more supported operating system.
Competition and Bounty Hunts
You can understand, then, why there’s strong competition for being the first out with a working ROM for the Touchpad. It’s something that I think helps keep Android alive: it helps innovation through trying to beat competitors. But sometimes it can be harmful: with teams of developers working on the same projects, sometimes it makes sense for them to join up and help each other. Even if that means just sharing their unreleased code!
The fact that there’s also at least one group of people offering a financial bounty of over $2,000 (and growing) for the first Android port has also pushed the bar of competition. Though with Touchpad owners having saved so much on their device, whoever provides them with a working Android build will no doubt get many a donation from grateful users.
Team Touchdroid Scandal
Team Touchdroid was found to have stolen private unreleased code belonging to CyanogenMod, an Android ROM team who are successful for all the right reasons, as seen by the quality and indeed quantity (of supported devices) of their ROM.
As if that wasn’t enough to darken the Android community’s opinion of team Touchdroid, it was also found that donations to the team intended to be spent on buying Touchpads was misused. The money was used for buying Touchpads, but a member of the team then resold them for extra profit! This angered many people who donated, and rightly so.
Team Touchdroid confessed to their wrongdoing, but don’t blame the team, blame individual members – a single member in the case of the misuse of donations, and a small group in the case of the CyanogenMod code theft. After these mistakes, Team Touchdroid shut up shop, stopping all development – but not before releasing their latest build, so their work should not go to waste. It’s a pity that this was the fate of the team; I hope that other Android development teams can learn from the mistakes they made.
The Current Situation
The Cyanogenmod team are still working on their Touchpad build which looks to be going very well. They have their Android ROM CM7 booting on the Touchpad and are working on getting individual features working properly. You can keep track of Cyanogenmod’s progress on their Twitter page, as well as this YouTube channel where the developers have already released some videos previewing their work.
I’d also like to point out that developers are building Gingerbread-based ROMS for the Touchpad. Its a real pity we’re missing out on Honeycomb, the Android version built for tablets, but sadly Google decided against releasing this just yet.
What do you think of this whole ordeal? Maybe you bought a Touchpad in the hopes of getting Android on it, or even donated money to Team Touchdroid?! We’re all interested in hearing what you have to say.