Mobile
Commentary
4/5/2011
00:21 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Google Angers Partners Over Android Fragmentation Control

Google's Android platform has gone from nothing three years ago to the number one platform today for smartphones, but it isn't without its faults. Its growth has been explosive partially because phone manufacturers have unprecedented control over a third party platform. That is also causing a fragmentation problem and Google wants to solve the issue.

Google's Android platform has gone from nothing three years ago to the number one platform today for smartphones, but it isn't without its faults. Its growth has been explosive partially because phone manufacturers have unprecedented control over a third party platform. That is also causing a fragmentation problem and Google wants to solve the issue.Guided by bean counters, some manufacturers skimp a bit on the hardware which means the phone has sub-par performance. It got so bad with over a dozen phones Angry Birds developer Rovio had to develop a lightweight version of the popular game specially for those devices.

It isn't just hardware though. Manufactures can customize the platform to their heart's content. That is the nature of open source software and is both a pro and a con. The developers of Tweetdeck had to contend with over 100 variants of Android from a pool of 36,000 beta testers.

Google is laying down the law. As BusinessWeek puts it, "There will be no more willy-nilly tweaks to the software." If manufactures want early access to the most up-to-date versions of Android, they will have to seek the platform maker's blessing on anticipated changes.

The licensing agreement now has non-fragmentation clauses according to some developers. While the clauses aren't necessarily new, Google is making more of an effort to enforce those policies. That is difficult to do since there are no financial penalties, but by withholding the latest code from those who run afoul of Google's desires, Google may get its way. If you are constantly releasing devices with a given version of Android months after your competition, you won't be in business very long.

This may irk those that hold that open source software should be just that - open. Android is still open, it just isn't a free for all. Sometimes, practicality has to come before philosophy.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Elite 100
InformationWeek Elite 100
Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - August 27, 2014
Who wins in cloud price wars? Short answer: not IT. Enterprises don't want bare-bones IaaS. Providers must focus on support, not undercutting rivals.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Howard Marks talks about steps to take in choosing the right cloud storage solutions for your IT problems
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.