Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Android Fragmentation

Disclaimer: I'm a long-time users and enthusiast when it comes to Linux -- and I own a Motorola droid.

Recently, there have been a few articles that talk of something called Fragmentation in regards to the Google android operating system. These articles talk about developer-centric problems and the general lack of stability as compared to other operating systems, such as Win Mobile and Apple's operating system for the iPhone.

This is my humble opinion: none of this crap matters to anyone but developers and technical journalists. The Android is for the most part, from what I see, unstoppable. It has recently taken the mobile operating system space by storm, spawning multiple products from multiple vendors.

It will continue to do so, despite any kind of stupid fear, uncertainty or doubt. Here are the reasons why:

  1. Android phones work acceptably for the vast majority of smart phone users.
  2. Unlike the strategic mistake that Apple made -- the Google android operating system is available from a host of carriers.
  3. Unlike Apple, the android store is far more open to developers.
  4. The operating system and the underlying development components are transparent. They are truly open in most respects compared to Apple.
Sure, developing for a moving target of device capabilities, APIs and "fragmented" operating system versions is going to suck. Sure, the interface is no where near as smooth and polished as Apple's. Sure sure sure, lot's of things compared to other proprietary vendors.

At the end of the day, the decisions that Apple made will continue to make their product the Cadillac of phones. The Droid will be the Chevy.

And the real reason it will continue to sell will be obvious to the end users: Most times, all you need is a Chevy.

Those of us in the Free/Open Source community will wax onward about why people should choose freedom over tyranny and all that important stuff that's right -- and I wish that these things mattered to a lot of people. Sadly, most people haven't a clue. At the end of the day, Apple will still have a huge market share -- but over time, I'm willing to bet that Linux (Android) will take a large or similar percentage.

More carriers, a good product, more choices, less cost. It's a simple equation. It reminds one of the bad choices Apple made in the 1980's to single-source their own hardware and sue the crap out of anyone that tried to establish anything close to a competing hardware platform. I'm not saying that mobile devices will be exactly the same as that territory -- the devices are replaced much faster and cost far less. But it sure is similar.

Fragmentation though? No one on the receiving end will really care all that much. The market physics pretty much dictate the outcome -- Android will march on, more or less unstoppably, regardless of any kind of FUD around the platform.

Because, most times, at the end of the day, you just need a decent phone that works at a reasonable price. Android definitely delivers that.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Good analysis and observation!
The dynamics behind the Android OS are just starting and with a sound architecture and the huge developer base actively working on solutions, many great products will appear.