Open-source software gamble for Google

Can something you give away for free turn into a gold mine? That's the multimillion-dollar question Google Inc. is betting on with its push into open-source software.

From a technophile's point-of-view, open-source software has had a much-maligned history; it has been wildly successful at innovating new and alternative software packages, but it has failed to deliver any significant return on investment. Still, that hasn't stopped technology bellwether Google from spearheading efforts to make it financial successful after a pair of widely-publicized forays into the social networking and mobile handset markets earlier this month.

Google's OpenSocial aims at creating a standard set of codes that will easily allow any applications to be used over a variety of social networking websites like MySpace, whereas its Open Handset Alliance brings together more than 30 telecommunication companies to distribute its Android mobile operating system.