Androids Everywhere, But Update Model Broken

In 2011, 93 different Android phones have been released across nine U.S. carriers. But there's a downside to this diversity.

Ed Hansberry, Contributor

December 27, 2011

1 Min Read

Proponents of Android claim that one of its benefits is the ability of manufacturers and carriers to customize the platform. This lets each OEM differentiate its devices. Carriers can then add their own special sauce, further adding to the mix.

In 2011, 93 different Android phones have been counted across nine U.S. carriers. Add in unlocked phones purchased from abroad, and the number of new models in use in the United States could well be above 100. This reminds me when feature phones where in their heyday. Every carrier had several different models with unique selling points.

The advantage of Android, of course, is in its ability to share common features across all models, regardless of the carrier or manufacturer. Features like Gmail, Google Maps, and the hundreds of thousands of apps in the various Android applications markets give users semi-consistent capabilities regardless of the model they buy.

AT&T had the broadest selection of devices, numbering 21, followed by Verizon with its 17 models. Nearly a third of Big Red's selection bore the company's Droid brand. While T-Mobile and Sprint are a distant third and fourth place in market share, that isn't the case when it comes to Android phones. They launched 16 and 15 devices, respectively. The smaller carriers such as US Cellular, Cricket, and Virgin each had at least three Android launches this year.

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