Android isn’t summer camp for handset vendors, not everyone gets a trophy

The subject of the possible fragmentation of the Android platform has been a concern from day one. I recently spent some talking about this issue with the “father” of Android, Google’s Andy Rubin and cam away with an interesting view of the Android market. Is Android fragmented or are we just seeing a new rate and pace of innovation unlike anything we’ve ever seen before with the velocity of mobile. Does it even matter. These are the topics of my latest Engadget column. So what do you think? Innovation or fragmentation?

Android isn’t summer camp for handset vendors and not everyone gets get a trophy for showing up. Google is treating partners equally, but will not slow the rate of innovation so weaker players can keep up. By constantly raising the bar, both in terms of reference devices and software, Google aims to keep innovating and drive that innovation as a differentiator. Google wasn’t looking for volume sales with the Nexus One, it was looking to raise the hardware bar — and arguably the best way to do that is to do it yourself.

One response to “Android isn’t summer camp for handset vendors, not everyone gets a trophy

  1. “Is Android fragmented or are we just seeing a new rate and pace of innovation unlike anything we’ve ever seen before with the velocity of mobile.”

    Actually both. You can’t say the market isn’t fragmented when a company like Twitter releases it’s “official” Android client, but the majority of Android devices can’t run it. Even more telling is that the vast majority of Android devices still run the OS they originally came with. That being said, you can’t say that Android isn’t iterating like crazy. However, that still leaves a market sector with multiple revisions of the OS, most of which are inaccessible to most devices.

    “Does it even matter.”

    It will. The confusion created for consumers trying to figure out which Android device to buy or which Android App will run on the device they already own will be jarring, and I believe it will create a great deal of backlash. Especially since we’re still living with carrier-subsidized devices, 2-year hardware upgrade windows, and $300+ ETFS.

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