An update about Android fragmentation

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    Posted: 10 September 2011 03:46 PM

    Android is so fragmented that poster-boy fragmentation complainer Netflix is now making its software available for all Android 2.2 and 2.3 devices.

    Android is messy and unplanned, there is grousing and complaining from all corners, but it eventually just gets things right. My Hayekian soul sees that as *magical*.

         
  • Posted: 10 September 2011 04:11 PM #1

    Brad:

    Good to see you back in the AFB. The fragmentation issues do need to be resolved and Netflix is obviously taking steps to increase the service’s addressable market.

         
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    Posted: 10 September 2011 04:22 PM #2

    That’s kinda funny. Actually, my contention all along is that they don’t need to be deliberately resolved, they just resolve themselves when it makes sense. Last I checked, Netflix was far and away the number 1 Internet application by bandwidth usage. Of course, they would figure things out. Their original issues were hardware DRM of devices and various screen sizes. They seem to have decided that DRM could be done in software on many devices, and that they could scale streams to fit screens somewhere in the video delivery pipeline. Again, I find that *magical* that they could take it upon themselves to do what works well for customers and themselves rather than rely on the device vendors and operating system developer to do it.

    This Netflix thing shows that ecosystems do not require central control, direction, or planning to achieve desirable outcomes. Maybe just a little patience. Again, that really makes me happy.

    [ Edited: 10 September 2011 04:48 PM by Bosco (Brad Hutchings) ]      
  • Posted: 10 September 2011 06:32 PM #3

    Bosco (Brad Hutchings) - 10 September 2011 07:22 PM

    This Netflix thing shows that ecosystems do not require central control, direction, or planning to achieve desirable outcomes. Maybe just a little patience. Again, that really makes me happy.

    Brad:

    Content providers will seek device outlets. It’s competition for content distribution revenue that will drive Netflix’s efforts.  The question now is how much demand will be created or satisfied by the effort. It’s one thing to see potential customers. It’s another for those customers to respond.

         
  • Posted: 10 September 2011 10:53 PM #4

    It’s not really a fix for fragmentation now, is it Brad?

    The reasons for why Netflix was not available on all Android machines was varied.

    Firstly they were scared, or rather their content partners were scared, that a hacked “open” handset could be used to rip their content.

    Secondly I think some deals were made to make Netflix an exclusive on certain handsets. One way to try and carve some differentiation in a plethora of me-too phones.

    FInally just because Netflix has fixed things doesn’t mean that everyone else will.

    Meanwhile Netflix has run on every iOS device since its release on iOS. Access to all devices from day one. Heaven forbid it even runs on my first gen iPod Touch.

    That is what true lack of fragmentation brings.

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  • Posted: 11 September 2011 01:57 PM #5

    Bosco (Brad Hutchings) - 10 September 2011 07:22 PM

    That’s kinda funny. Actually, my contention all along is that they don’t need to be deliberately resolved, they just resolve themselves when it makes sense. Last I checked, Netflix was far and away the number 1 Internet application by bandwidth usage. Of course, they would figure things out. Their original issues were hardware DRM of devices and various screen sizes. They seem to have decided that DRM could be done in software on many devices, and that they could scale streams to fit screens somewhere in the video delivery pipeline. Again, I find that *magical* that they could take it upon themselves to do what works well for customers and themselves rather than rely on the device vendors and operating system developer to do it.

    This Netflix thing shows that ecosystems do not require central control, direction, or planning to achieve desirable outcomes. Maybe just a little patience. Again, that really makes me happy.

     

    Brad

    Your point is that fragmented is better than integrated? I know you consider it open vs. closed (we don’t). If so, better for whom?

    This is the AFB. Here we are interested in the “F” for “finance” so that members can profit from all things related to Apple.

    Since the introduction of Android, Apple has grown their profits more than any other competitor in the entire mobile phone industry to the point that Apple is making most of the industry’s profits on approximately 5% market share.

    This has resulted in finacial gain for Apple shareholders and will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

    How has Android’s market share gains contributed to profitable investing opportunities? Isn’t Microsoft making more off of Android via patents than Google? In any event, Android does not move the profit needle enough for either to make it an investable opportunity based on Android.

    Therefore, aren’t you missing the point? We are focused on making profits while you are focused on the market share of a fragmented platform.

    In other words, you are continually making the wrong argument in the wrong forum.

    Jeffi

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  • Posted: 11 September 2011 03:48 PM #6

    We know this:  The integrated provider, the so-called walled garden provider is raking in close to 66% of the total cell phone manufacturer profits.

    I find it difficult to accept an argument that a chaotic, fragemented system is superior, given that that fact.

         
  • Posted: 11 September 2011 04:58 PM #7

    You don’t get much more irrelevant then not even being mentioned as part of the competitive landscape.

    Enter the Sprint iPhone 5. Exit talk of Sprint being forced to merge with Verizon. Sprint?s longtime security blanket, the fact that it wasn?t the smallest U.S. carrier and wasn?t the only one without the iPhone juggernaut in its lineup, took a double blow this year. First Verizon added the iPhone 4. Then T-Mobile went up for sale, with AT&T being the intended acquirer. Suddenly Sprint faced the prospect of being the smallest remaining carrier and the only one without the iPhone, leaving it in a weak position to compete going forward.

    You can catch up on the rest of the story here.

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    I don’t mind being wrong…,I just hate being wrong so FAST!

         
  • Posted: 12 September 2011 01:08 PM #8

    Is Brad really using Netflix as an example of how Android fragmentation eventually gets it right? Hasn’t Netflix been on iOS for well over a year? Hasn’t Netflix’ implementation on Android been delayed precisely because of fragmentation?

    It seems to me that Brad’s Netflix example proves the exact opposite of what he was contending.

         
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    Posted: 12 September 2011 01:16 PM #9

    Ok, so how about if I use Amazon MP3 then, which works on every semi-mainstream Android device to allow easy purchase of music and optional cloud storage. On iOS devices, you can’t buy music through the Cloud Player.

    I used to think you guys were just too blinded by the Apple way to understand how the mechanics of a different system might work. But FalKirk, I’m gonna just question your intelligence on this one.

         
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    Posted: 12 September 2011 01:35 PM #10

    Bosco (Brad Hutchings) - 12 September 2011 04:16 PM

    Ok, so how about if I use Amazon MP3 then, which works on every semi-mainstream Android device to allow easy purchase of music and optional cloud storage. On iOS devices, you can’t buy music through the Cloud Player.

    I used to think you guys were just too blinded by the Apple way to understand how the mechanics of a different system might work. But FalKirk, I’m gonna just question your intelligence on this one.

    Brad, you are trolling with such aggressive asides on someone’s who is known for considered commentary. You also don’t ever address the critical fact that apple takes home the bacon in the smart phone market with only 5 percent share, and it keeps growing.

         
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    Posted: 12 September 2011 01:43 PM #11

    Actually, I have addressed that extensively. Sure, Apple takes a disproportionate portion of profits, and that’s great for you guys who are in AAPL to the extent that boosts the stock price, as the stock does not pay a dividend.

    But at the same time, you guys have consistently crapped on Android and said it was unsustainable with an impending nosedive imminent while Android installed base market share in the US (for example) is headed to 50% and current sales share in the US is north of 60% of smart phones. One reason you all consistently cited for certain Android doom was fragmentation. The poster child example was Netflix. I came here to update you on how that was handled and see if it changed your opinion of whether more distributed, open, messy systems are actually tenable in the marketplace.

         
  • Posted: 12 September 2011 02:26 PM #12

    Bosco (Brad Hutchings) - 12 September 2011 04:16 PM

    Ok, so how about if I use Amazon MP3 then, which works on every semi-mainstream Android device to allow easy purchase of music and optional cloud storage. On iOS devices, you can’t buy music through the Cloud Player.

    I used to think you guys were just too blinded by the Apple way to understand how the mechanics of a different system might work. But FalKirk, I’m gonna just question your intelligence on this one.

    First, I want to thank Bryanyc for coming to my defense. Your kind words are much appreciated.

    But let’s give Brad a chance here. Perhaps I am just misunderstanding what he’s saying.

    In my original post I attempted to point out that Netflix was hardly proof that Android fragmentation was the non-issue that Brad contended it was. On the contrary, it appeared to me that the delay in getting Netflix on Android devices was proof that fragmentation WAS a problem. Now that I’m re-reading Brad’s response, I don’t see any attempt to address my question or to clarify his position. I’m trying to remain courteous here, but I can’t help but notice that this seems to be Brad’s modus operandi. Avoid the rebuttal and attack on an unrelated issue. I look forward to Brad proving me wrong by responding to my initial question.

    Now let’s move on to the next example that Brad raises: the Amazon MP3. Brad claims Amazon’s MP3 works on every semi-mainstream Android device to allow easy purchase of music and optional cloud storage. He goes on to state that on iOS devices, you don’t have access to these services.

    I’m a little confused here. I can purchase music through Amazon. But perhaps one can buy music through the cloud? Perhaps I don’t understand this because I don’t have access to it or am unfamiliar with the service.

    In any case, I don’t think Brad’s second example has anything to do with fragmentation. If Brad is contending that Apple’s “walled garden” does not permit iOS users to have access to some of Amazon’s services, that is one thing. But it has zero to do with fragmentation.

    Maybe Brad is right. Maybe my level of intelligence is insufficient to follow his non-sequitors.

         
  • Posted: 12 September 2011 02:31 PM #13

    Bosco (Brad Hutchings) - 12 September 2011 04:43 PM

    Actually, I have addressed that extensively. Sure, Apple takes a disproportionate portion of profits, and that’s great for you guys who are in AAPL to the extent that boosts the stock price, as the stock does not pay a dividend.

    But at the same time, you guys have consistently crapped on Android and said it was unsustainable with an impending nosedive imminent while Android installed base market share in the US (for example) is headed to 50% and current sales share in the US is north of 60% of smart phones. One reason you all consistently cited for certain Android doom was fragmentation. The poster child example was Netflix. I came here to update you on how that was handled and see if it changed your opinion of whether more distributed, open, messy systems are actually tenable in the marketplace.

    Hang on. That’s just a little bit too revisionist for my liking, Brad.

    Every time there has been any positive Android news you’ve been the first to pop on here to take pot shots at everyone.

    It is perfectly possible for Android to take the place of say Symbian and yet Apple still win, and win big, which really is all us Apple shareholders care about.

    As I said above just because Netflix has finally allowed to open itself to all Android devices does not actually address fragmentation. I am not sure how Netflix is handled on Android - is it a native HTML 5 app or does it use Flash? Not that I am particularly interested either way to be honest.

    By using words like “disproportionate” you are again displaying your true Anti-Apple colors. Apple makes profits. I personally don’t need a dividend although I know others here would like one though.

    A lot of the old doom and gloom “the sky is falling” posts you have made both here and the TMO main site have actually come to nothing. Remember your rant about Java? It’s just an additional download in Lion. Not the world is coming to an end disaster you made it out to be. There are plenty of other examples.

    Fragmentation is just starting to really hit. Now China are doing their own fork where Google will get nothing and Amazon looks to have forked way back down the road. And honeycomb seems to STILL not be ready for primetime, which isn’t helping anyone but Apple sell tablets.

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    Posted: 12 September 2011 02:34 PM #14

    @FalKirk: You’ve helped me clarify my major theme here. Let me spell it out quickly.

    You guys contend that fragmentation is a big shortcoming of Android. The poster boy example was Netflix. They dealt with it.

    I contend that Apple control is the big shortcoming of iOS. A great example is how inconvenient it is to buy and install music from Amazon MP3 on iOS devices versus how easy it is on Android devices. The Android MP3 issue has been around 3x as long as the Netflix issue. Still not resolved in a way that makes it as easy for iOS users who would like to buy their music from Amazon as it is for Android users to make the same purchases.

    Which way is ultimately more friendly to the user, even if it’s inconsistent with some company that feels entitled to all the profits from getting a take?

         
  • Posted: 12 September 2011 03:43 PM #15

    Bosco (Brad Hutchings) - 12 September 2011 05:34 PM

    You guys contend that fragmentation is a big shortcoming of Android. The poster boy example was Netflix. They dealt with it.

    Well, yes they’ve dealt with it, but it took them years (?) to deal with it. (I really don’t know how long it took). Netflix is just one symptom of Android fragmentation. Fixing it does not end the problem it only demonstrates how long it takes to fix a fragmentation problem.

    This is an aside, but I would say that Android’s biggest fragmentation problem now is the various forks. Some of the forks are Yi, OMS, Barnes & Noble, Tapas, Bada, the rumored Amazon fork and a couple of other minor players. Each of these makes Google’s position more precarious (which is probably why they purchased Motorola).

    If fact, is Android really Android? It seems to me that Android is just an umbrella word to cover all of these forks. The forks have their own App Stores, have their own software versions, have their own hardware. How is that conglomeration called a single OS when it is clearly many OS’s?

    Bosco (Brad Hutchings) - 12 September 2011 05:34 PM

    I contend that Apple control is the big shortcoming of iOS. A great example is how inconvenient it is to buy and install music from Amazon MP3 on iOS devices versus how easy it is on Android devices. The Android MP3 issue has been around 3x as long as the Netflix issue. Still not resolved in a way that makes it as easy for iOS users who would like to buy their music from Amazon as it is for Android users to make the same purchases.

    Which way is ultimately more friendly to the user, even if it’s inconsistent with some company that feels entitled to all the profits from getting a take?

    Your second issue is totally unrelated to the first. Still is it intriguing, so let’s explore it.

    I contend that Apple control is the big shortcoming of iOS. A great example is how inconvenient it is to buy and install music from Amazon MP3 on iOS devices versus how easy it is on Android devices.

    What a bizarre example. On iOS you can buy books from Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and perhaps others. On Amazon you have only one choice: Amazon. Amazon is far more tightly closed than iOS. If you’re looking for a champion for open, I suggest you look someplace other than Amazon.

    The Android MP3 issue has been around 3x as long as the Netflix issue. Still not resolved in a way that makes it as easy for iOS users who would like to buy their music from Amazon as it is for Android users to make the same purchases.

    I don’t even understand what you’re saying. I can easily buy MP3s from Amazon. I go to Amazon, buy and download the music, then transfer it to my device. Not only is your example wrong, but it’s counter-productive. I can both buy Amazon songs or have the pleasure of using the 1 step procedure available in iTunes. Do you have such an easy to use way of buying songs on Android?

    Note: Perhaps you’re discussing another music service altogether. Can you clarify?

    Which way is ultimately more friendly to the user, even if it’s inconsistent with some company that feels entitled to all the profits from getting a take?

    Another strange argument. I think almost all objective observers would agree that it is the integrated iOS that is more user friendly while the Android operating system is more configurable.

    It has always been my contention that integrated model and licensing model are merely strategies, not a religions. Neither is good or evil, right or wrong. Both have their place. Neither is inherently superior or inferior. Rather, one may be superior in some circumstances while the other is superior in another circumstance.

    Now where Android’s model differs from Microsoft’s model is that Microsoft had legal agreements forbidding the modification of their operating system.  Android went the other way and not only gave away their operating system for free but purposefully allowed all comers to modify the system at will. I actually shouldn’t say purposefully. Once Android choose to build their operating system on an open source foundation, they were presumably forbidden from closing that operating system architecture.

    Now the advantage of Android is that, being free, it proliferated rapidly. The disadvantage (aside from the patent issues which are another matter altogether) is that Google has little control over the operating system. Google can control it’s own system all it wants, but anyone else is permitted to fork the OS and make it their own. Since it’s in the interest of many parties to create a separate version of Android and siphon off its profits to themselves, Android fragmentation is not only possible, it’s inevitable.

    You speak of Netflix as though it’s the end of Android’s fragmentation issues. But the Android fragmentation issues are only now coming to a head. As each fork creates it’s own unique Apps, developers (like you) and users will find it harder and harder to create and buy Apps that are not Android fork specific. The toll on developers will become unbearable and the resulting confusion for consumers will make the platform less attractive.

    I look forward to your response.

    [ Edited: 12 September 2011 09:00 PM by FalKirk ]