Jean-Baptiste Quéru quits AOSP, Qualcomm legal drama could be to blame

asus nexus 7 front landscape

It’s a huge loss for Android and one that could be seen as the 2nd highest profile exit since Android-founder Andy Rubin bid farewell back in March. The man known ’round the world as Jean-Baptiste Quéru (aka JBQ), one of the Android Open Source Project’s premier engineers, is finally ready to call it quits. While JBQ hasn’t come out and revealed the exact reasons for his departure, he’s definitely alluded to it in a variety of social media posts. The reasons? Well, they might surprise you.

From the looks of things, legal troubles involving Qualcomm and the semi-conductor giant not being forthcoming with the source code to the Nexus 7′s Snapdragon processor have delayed Google from publishing the factory images/driver binaries onto Google Developers. Apparently, JBQ isn’t having it and after expressing his concerns (actually anticipating the situation 6 months in advance), he is finally ready to hang up his coat and move to greener pastures.

On July 30th, JBQ posted to Twitter:

“That feeling when lawyers sabotage the launch you spent 6 months working on? I haz it. Sad sad sad sad sad sad.”

On August 4th, things became grim after posting to Twitter:

“I don’t want to go to work tomorrow. I don’t want to be doing that job any more.”

Finally, the JBQ reached his boiling point on August 7th, posting to Google+:

“Well, I see that people have figured out why I’m quitting AOSP.

There’s no point being the maintainer of an Operating System that can’t boot to the home screen on its flagship device for lack of GPU support, especially when I’m getting the blame for something that I don’t have authority to fix myself and that I had anticipated and escalated more than 6 months ahead.”

You may remember a similar situation involving the Nexus 4 and the delayed release of its factory images. Judging from the processor it’s running, we now have a better idea as to why. We can only hope JBQ’s departure isn’t a sign of bad things to come for Android. Where Android’s engineers (the men and women working closest to the project) initially had complete freedom, it seems Google might have gotten themselves caught in a tangled web where the situation is a lot more complicated than the original open source nature Android was founded upon.

No matter the reasons motivating JBQ’s move away from AOSP, I think I speak for everyone here at Phandroid in wishing Quéru the best of luck, and fond farewell. Thanks for all your hard work, JBQ, and best of luck in your future endeavors (whether with Google or elsewhere). Cheers.

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  • Blkegk

    I hope Apple snatches him up.
    j/k

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      You don’t joke like that, man.. O_o

      • http://www.twitter.com/OtisFeelgood1 OtisFeelgood

        Ban him, Chris! >_<

  • C-Law

    Wow! Sad sad day for all of us in the Android world

  • Jon James

    wow. just wow.

  • PhineasJW

    Gotta admire him standing up for what he believes, to the point of walking away from a large salary and a job at one of the best companies in the world. Well done!

    Being that level of talent in the Bay Area, I doubt he’ll be jobless for too long. :)

    • NYCHitman1

      He didn’t leave Google, afaik. He just left Android.

  • loony2nz

    “whoa” — Keanu Reeves

  • lolwut

    I feel like Google is afraid to shake the boat with anyone and be perceived as a “bad guy”

    While I think Google has been very classy handling the Apple situation, they could take a page from Apple’s book when it comes to vendors not complying with contractual agreements. I suspect Qualcomm is in violation of SOME agreement here.

    What I’m saying is Google either needs to have a gaggle of lawyers descend on Qualcomm or quit acting surprised when vendors aren’t afraid of them.

  • Modman

    Who invited the itroll? With Samsung LG Amazon other android oems to work for I’d think that was the last place to ever consider.

    • Blkegk

      I don’t see any itrolls here…….

  • Andzzzz

    never trust a dude with a hyphenated first name

  • chris

    JBQ to Chrome, anyone?

  • Luxferro

    Google should stop using qualcomm for it’s devices. Use Samsung hardware, at least they are opensource friendly.

    • MITM

      lol no

    • Big_EZ

      No they aren’t. Qualcomm were the open source friendly chips. Samsung Exynos is not developer friendly, that’s why the Note 2 still doesn’t have properly working AOSP roms after almost a year.

      EDIT: The qualcomm version of the Note 2 had fully working AOSP shortly after it was launched.

      • Seth Forbus

        I’ve had an AOSP rom on my T-Mo note 2 since 2 months after launch lol.

        • Big_EZ

          Note “properly working”. There are work a rounds, but the qualcomm version doesn’t need work a rounds. From my experiences with GPS work a rounds, they work just fine until you really need it, then your just sol.

      • Luxferro

        I was referring to Nexus devices. I don’t recall these problems with the Nexus S (samsung processor) or the Galaxy Nexus (TI processor). But with qualcomm it’s always a problem.

        • Big_EZ

          The Nexus S was 3 years ago with the Hummingbird processor. Samsung was much more developer friendly when they weren’t on top.

  • delahaya

    Not good…not good at all.

  • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

    This is probably similar to the situation with NVidia and linux wrt to their closed-source display driver blobs (vs the slower nouveau driver). The reason, it’s claimed, why they can’t release the gpu source code, isn’t so much that they want to keep THEIR secret sauce a proprietary advantage (since it can and has been reverse engineered), but that they’ve signed tech licensing deals with many other companies that won’t allow it.

    Meh all around. Boo to the proprietary mindset.

    • Seth Forbus

      Yes, although Nvidia did eventually get around to supporting linux. My 770 has very nice official drivers for ubuntu. :)

      • benanov

        You’re using the binary-only drivers NVidia wrote, not the Free/Libre/OpenSource nouveau drivers.

        • Seth Forbus

          *shrugs* All I know is that any of my steam games that support Linux run really well. (But I still game in windows for all the games that don’t support linux).

  • William Peterson

    JBQ, You will be missed.

    • nilsonglenmullen

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      While I think Google has been very classy handling the Apple
      situation, they could take a page from Apple’s book when it comes to
      vendors not complying with contractual agreements. I suspect Qualcomm is
      in violation of SOME agreement here.

  • Del373

    Never heard of him. Then again I’m not much of a developer tech guru person like most of you are so it would make sense that I haven’t.

    Last time I did anything technical with Android was when I installed ParanoidAndroid on my GNex, and honestly it’s not that hard to do.

    In any case I wish you all the best JBQ, and I appreciate the work you do.

    • Paul Henschel

      its honestly not hard to do because of JBQ. he was the one making sure of that, watching over the aosp, releasing drivers and blobs. if something didn’t work out you could just talk to him and he’d try his best to figure it out – there were tons of issues plaguing aosp while stock android was ok. it was amazing that you could compile it without hacking and shoehorning around it to make it run. i sure hope they find someone who is as dedicated as him.

  • Ale

    pretty sad