On Monday, longtime Sun Microsystems employee Tim Bray signed on at Google – and promptly used his personal blog to lambaste Apple, express unhappiness with Sun, and admit that "there are some Google initiatives that I feel no urge to go near."
Bray said he had been hired to serve as "developer advocate" for the Android, a post that apparently mixes flackery, cheerleading, and problem solving.
"Are you an Android developer? Or might you become one? Or have you given up on Android? If you’re any of these, you’re a person I need to learn from," Bray wrote yesterday. "Help teach me."
Bray has a storied history in the tech world: he cofounded the Open Text Foundation, worked as an influential consultant, and served as the Director of Web Technologies at Sun Microsystems.
On his blog, tbray.org, Bray said that he had mulled an offer to stay at Sun, which is now owned by Oracle. ("I’ll maybe tell the story when I can think about it without getting that weird spiking-blood-pressure sensation in my eyeballs," Bray wrote.) He decided instead to reach out to a couple of other "appealing" employers, and "Google seemed like the best bet." Bray said he will remain in Vancouver, Canada, and work for Google remotely.
"[Google is] now too big to be purely good or in fact purely anything," Bray wrote. "I’m sure that tendrils of stupidity and evil are even now finding interstitial breeding grounds whence they will emerge to cause grief." Still, he called Android as "unambiguously a good thing as the tangled wrinkly human texture of the Net can sustain just now."
Bray pointed to Android's openness, its friendliness to developers, and the increasing quality of Android applications. And then Bray took the shot heard 'round the Blogosphere:
The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger. I hate it. I hate it even though the iPhone hardware and software are great, because freedom’s not just another word for anything, nor is it an optional ingredient.
Bray was referring specifically to Apple's recent decisions to crack down or censor adult-themed apps, and to Apple's iron-fisted control of the iTunes App Store. But most tech bloggers saw Bray's comments as the latest – and loudest – round in an ongoing battle between Apple and Google. As the New York Times reported in a long article this weekend, the two tech giants have scrapped repeatedly over the mobile phone market.
And if Bray's comments are any indication, they'll probably continue to scrap for months to come.