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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Is Android Differentiated -- Or Fragmented?

Like a language that has spread around the world, the Android open-source operating system is developing differences. At the International Consumer Electronics Shows now running in Las Vegas, Android backers are pushing the idea that this adaptation is useful differentiation, not a fragmentation that could make Android devices a problem for consumers and businesses.

For some Android-ites, a clean version of Android as released by Google is ideal, such as Android 4.0 on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. But other manufacturers and carriers want to distinguish their Android products. At CES, Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha told news media that the carriers don't want Android devices with the same features and interface, and that his company can't make money unless a product is differentiated.

Differentiation Vs. Fragmentation

In fact, Jha indicated that his company would prefer to make fewer differentiated Android phones, in order to maximize his marketing budget. All of Motorola's Android devices have customized interfaces that are designed for carrier requirements, and other manufacturers, such as HTC and Samsung, similarly seek to give Android devices their own flavor, as do some carriers.

But differences in interfaces and features raise issues of whether a given, third-party app will work consistently across devices, a problem that Apple, for instance, does not have.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt, speaking at an event at CES, denied that the open-source platform created and being overseen by his company is beginning to suffer from fragmentation.

Schmidt said that fragmentation was what would happen if an app ran on one or more devices, but not all. Differentiation, he said, is customization based on a carrier or manufacturer's sense of innovation. Schmidt said that Google is working to have Android 4.0 become the primary platform in use, as it combines the earlier, smartphone-oriented Android 2 with the Android 3 Honeycomb version, which...

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