Google Admits Android Fragmentation Problem, 2 Years Late
Steve Jobs is right. Google admits Android’s fragmentation problem at Google I/O 2011, after lying to Android users for almost 2 years.
Android Fragmentation, Since 2009
Android fragmentation is first noticed in Fall of 2009 by tech sites such as Roughly Drafted and others. And later by developers.
Even Apple CEO Steve Jobs called out the Android Fragmentation in October, 2010. Developer TweetDeck has to deal with over 100 different version of Android to develop its software. Compare to Apple with two different versions (iPhone or iPad).
Examples of Android fragmentation:
- No standard GUI or hardware. Device makers differentiate themselves from other Android makers by changing the overall skin and usability of their devices using different software and hardware. Case in point: Android hardware fragmentation.
- No regular upgrade cycles. For example, Samsung often abandon Android phones after one minor software update. Case in point: Android software fragmentation, leaving many Android devices behind on software features and security updates.
Android Fragmentation 2011 Fix: Future Ware!
For almost 2 years, Google executives such as Google CEO Eric Schmidt denied the problem, while Google releases latest software for its own slow selling Nexus phones first.
This week at 2011 May Google I/O, Google finally admits fragmentation a problem (well, more of a hint). Copying the playbook from Microsoft, Google promises future ware solution to fix Android fragmentation:
“New devices from these partners will keep getting the latest platform updates for the next 18 months afterwards if the hardware allows.”
Translation: Android updates will be available only for limited devices. Note ‘if the hardware allows’ escape clause. That means device makers can still produce outdated Android devices and provide no software upgrades. Further more, carriers can still delay updates for months to add its own crapware.
Vague software update promise also provides no solution to the Android hardware fragmentation.
No word on the fate of the existing millions of Android devices. Mostly likely abandoned. Why? Google doesn’t care about the user experience, as Google can already track Android users to sell lucrative location based ads.
Apple iOS Software Upgrade Path
In contrast, Apple designed iOS devices to be upgradable. The original iPhone was provided with almost 3 years of software upgrades.
- 2007 June: Original iPhone released
- 2010 February: iOS 3.1.3, last software update for the original iPhone.
Apple also provides iPod touch, which also runs iOS, similar numbers of software upgrades.
After 2 years of Android user frustrations, Google is promise to provide upgrade path for 18 months, for limited devices. Perhaps it’ll take another 2 years before Google admits Android malware problems and other issues.