Fascinated by portable multimedia players (PMP), I bought Cowon A2 early this month. I'd be doing a comparison analysis later, but, for now, the biggest news. A2 has released its entire source code under GPL. Though there is no documentation/notice regarding the code on company's site, it is speculated to be the code of its firmware 1.59, while latest stable release is 1.61. The code is huge taking 467MB on hdd(80 MB in compressed .tar.gz format), with little comments/documentation, but quite clean.
Now, is this release a goodwill sign to OS community, and going to expand to other iAudio products? I don't think so. To answer, the code release was never officially announced by the company, as the post here reveals. Such a big move like this surely needs announcement and publicity, telling and inviting hackers to submit patches using the available source code. Google Desktop Search SDK, Nokia 60 series' python support, flickr, and many others are examples when the respective companies willingly announced their open source motives to engage the Open Source community. But, cowon's muteness kind of seems to indicate that the decision to release the code may not be entirely the 'open source angel dawning on the company'. And as per GPL:
Section 2 b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.
where 'Program' means the section of the code licensed under GPL.
And A2 is based upon GPLed Linux kernel 2.6.5. This section may be a reason enough for the company to release its whole code under GPL.
Whether willingly or not, this move has opened up the gates of this amazing player to hackers. Though A2 gets a lots of upgrades by its dedicated developer team, it won't be long before there will be a flood of patches from hackers worldwide, jumping mainstream making cowon a2 able to play 'anything you throw at it'.
For me, for now, I'm planning a quick hack to display my name on the screen :).