Google and Android OS Fragmentation?




Release of Nexus 7 Tablet

The introduction of Android as a mobile operating system was a momentous moment for the technology world that hitherto was used to more integrated systems for mobile devices. This is the first OS to run on very different array of devices from the same source code that is very portable. The welcome news by Google to roll out the first Jelly bean device, Nexus 7 Tablet, has again raised the issue of Android fragmentation among stakeholders and users alike of mobile computing. Jelly Bean is the latest android version 4.1.

Previous versions yet to be experienced by users

The release of android 4.1 is startling for a majority of users who are even yet to unwrap the Android 4.0.x, the Ice Cream Sandwich. No one knows better how disappointing the take up of new versions of Google’s android OS has been than its own Dashboard for developers. The hard, worrying statistics point that only a mere 7 percent of Android users have experienced the Ice Cream Sandwich, which has been in the market for almost a year, 8 months to be precise. The gap between this and even prior android versions is magnanimous, with android 3.x, the Honeycomb at 3 percent market share, android 2.2, Froyo at 19.1 percent, android 2.1, Éclair at 5.2 percent, android 1.6, the Donut and android 1.5, the Cupcake with a fraction of percentage market share. It is funny that a major two-thirds of android users would still be using the Gingerbread which is many versions behind the latest release.

What really is the problem?

Fragmentation is common place in technology releases as a partial byproduct. Many leading android device manufacturers maintain that fragmentation is not really an issue. Rather the main problem which Google and all Android enthusiasts ought to concentrate on is why the OS updates are painfully slow to trickle down to users. Though Google presents the source code of any Android release at the Android Open Source Project to all manufacturers and developers at once after the successful launch of the first device that runs it, there is still a lot of blame and rants, most valid and some very misinformed. Take for example the claim by Randall Stephenson, AT & T CEO that Google is biased in its distribution of OS releases through negotiated agreements which enables some manufactures early hands on the latest Android OS.

Does Google care to solve the problem?

As the manufacturers play the blame game, Google shows no effort or worry to the problem, which could prove worse if the stocks of Android keep rising. Honestly, channeling Android as a mobile OS that will follow a specific hardware blue print akin to how Apple and Windows Phone operates will be the hardest breakthrough in the mobile technology. Given its financial and technological muscle, the starting point would be for Google to take charge and manage all the Android Updates for all devices. For now users and manufacturers will have to be content with the pros that Android Os presents compared to the other integrated systems that operate on same hardware pieces.

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