Configurable Thoughts

 

Fighting Fragmentation

Google deserves tremendous credit for the way they have driven and are driving Android as an open source architecture-neutral framework. The result is that its success and popularity has far surpassed even the most optimistic projections of just a few years ago. Originally targeted to cell phone handsets, there currently appears to be no limit to the markets and applications in which Android will be deployed.

Android is to a large extent about having access to cloud information from anywhere, anytime, and any device. This drives the deployment of Android into different markets, with devices ranging from smart phones and tablets to TVs and appliances. People appreciate having a common interface that offers a consistent user experience across all of their electronic devices. It’s not just about being able to access information from anywhere and anytime; they’d like to access it in the same manner as well, irrespective of the device they are using. This is something that Apple has done well with their “iProducts”, but is a more significant challenge for an “any processor any form factor” supporting platform like Android.

This is where anti-fragmentation comes in; to force a consistent user experience across devices based on different processor architectures and applications with different form factors. For the past couple of weeks, media speculation has been that Google was planning to kill the goose that laid the golden egg and clamp down hard on how Android could be deployed greatly limiting UI customization and locking it to a single processor architecture. Based on the latest response from Andy Rubin the wild speculation was wrong. He reaffirmed Google’s commitment to Android as an open source platform and to continue to release source code, which is wise.

What is less obvious is the consequence of altering the Android UI or offering alternative applications to Google applications. Will this disqualify some devices from being branded as Android-compatible or from including Google applications? If the measure for qualification will continue to be the Android Compatibility Definition Document, the answer appears to be no. In any case, Device Manufacturers still have the choice on whether to deviate from the Android standard UI or not, and whether to offer alternatives to Google applications. And the consumer has the choice to select such a device, or stick to a standard Android one instead. In the end, this freedom of choice is what has been driving the adoption of Android and will drive future innovation.

At the moment Andriod is still open and free. If Google keeps it that way it is just a matter of time before Android is used everywhere.