An update about Android fragmentation

  • Posted: 12 September 2011 08:39 PM #16

    FalKirk - 12 September 2011 06:43 PM
    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 crate 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.

    Wow! Plus one!!!

    Signature

    Inflation robs from the past, deflation robs from the future. Pick your poison.

         
  • Posted: 12 September 2011 10:01 PM #17

    And this says it all. Slam dunk on Brad again. And it is sweet.

    Courtesy of John Gruber…

    Winning

    Monday, 12 September 2011

    Yours truly, last week:

    What I find interesting is the tacit admission from Sprint that it is at a competitive disadvantage without the iPhone. Seems obvious to me, of course, and probably to most regular DF readers. But how do the Android supporters who insist that Android is ?winning? square that belief with this?

    Aaron Pressman argues that I was ?deliberately obtuse?:

    Some customers want to buy an iPhone and Sprint can?t sell them one. Some customers want to buy an Android phone and Sprint can sell them one. There are in fact far more people choosing to buy Android phones than iPhones. But there are still lots of people buying iPhones. If Sprint could sell Coke but not Pepsi, they?d be losing some business even though Coke is the bigger brand. I mean, come on. Don?t be such a jerk.

    Pressman is right, in a way. I was too flippant with the aforequoted question. What I mean by ?winning? needs more context.

    What I?m talking about is the argument that Android is, more or less, the new Windows1 ? that what Windows was to the PC industry in the 1990s, Android is going to be in the mobile industry in the 2010s. It?s certainly not true that all Android proponents subscribe to this theory, but it?s definitely common.

    Keep in mind what Windows did to the PC industry. It effectively killed all competing platforms save one, the Mac, and it left the Mac with but a niche of the overall market. When I say Android isn?t ?winning? I don?t mean it isn?t doing well or isn?t growing, I mean that it isn?t relegating iOS to a ?90s Mac-sized slice of the market.

    Statement of the obvious: if there exist people who want to buy iPhones and will accept no substitute, any carrier that doesn?t sell the iPhone will get none of those sales. The same was true with the Mac, back, say, in the early ?90s, for stores that sold computers. But there?s an enormous order of magnitude difference in the number of people who want iPhones today and those who wanted Macs back then.

    Computer stores which didn?t carry the Mac in the 90s were not at a significant disadvantage to those that did. What Windows did was destroy most of its competition, and reduced those that survived to marginal relevance. Macs accounted for a small percentage of total PCs sold, but, the bigger difference between then and now is that Mac profits accounted for a small percentage of the profits for the PC industry as a whole.

    The iPhone, on the other hand, currently accounts for two-thirds of the mobile phone industry?s total profit. Mobile carriers need the iPhone today. Computer stores did not need the Mac.

    It?s easy to pick and choose the numbers you want to back up the theory you prefer. So if you?re rooting for Android to dominate the industry, it is tempting to focus on unit sale market share, and to attribute Windows?s historical dominance to its massive unit sale market share. But you can flip that around, and argue that because I am rooting for the iPhone, I cherry pick the data to fit the story I want to see unfold ? and so I say profit share is what matters, not unit sales, only because that?s the figure that puts Apple?s position in the best light.

    But I like the odds that I?ll be proven right. Money is how you keep score, because it?s the one thing whose value everyone agrees upon. That?s what money is. The Wintel platform dominated every metric ? market share and profit share. That?s where almost all the hardware profits were, and it?s where almost all the software profits were. Market share without profit is a Pyrrhic victory.

    I?m not arguing that iOS is the new Windows; I?m arguing that there is no Windows in mobile.2 The market is fundamentally different. Android is thriving market-share-wise in the phone market. iOS is doing well market-share-wise, and dominating in terms of profit share. Both platforms are succeeding, albeit in very different ways. Pressman?s Coke/Pepsi analogy is a poor one in many ways, but first and foremost it fails because Coke and Pepsi have the exact same goal, and compete with each other on the same terms: selling soft drinks for profit. Google and Apple, on the other hand, are playing different games from each other with Android and iOS.

    I?ll close with this, though: with its purchase of Motorola, Google seems a lot more interested in playing Apple?s game than the other way around.

    Perhaps I should say ?DOS/Windows? rather than just ?Windows?, because it?s always been my belief that Microsoft secured its dominance of the PC industry in the DOS era. It was Windows when PC sales exploded, but Microsoft was in a position of OS market share dominance because of DOS.??

    You might argue that while iOS will never attain Windows-like monopoly dominance of the phone market, it might in the tablet market. But I think fundamentally, tablets like the iPad are simply portable computers. Tablets are a segment of the computer industry, not an industry unto themselves. Perhaps I?m underestimating the magnitude of the iPad, though.??

    Signature

    Inflation robs from the past, deflation robs from the future. Pick your poison.

         
  • Avatar

    Posted: 13 September 2011 12:02 PM #18

    PC Pro has this to say on crapware and Android.

    On Friday, I eased the Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro from its box, turned it on, and was greeted with a message urging me to set up McAfee WaveSecure before I?d even set up the phone with my Google account.
    Delving into the app drawer revealed more unwanted software, with a host of apps neatly summarising Android?s perennial fragmentation issues: alongside the official Market, the Xperia Mini Pro comes loaded with four different app stores. There?s also other McAfee apps installed as well as a Popcap Games trial and a selection of media management tools.
    It?s not restricted to Sony Ericsson handsets, either. HTC?s often held up as the paragon of Android quality ? alongside Samsung ? but my own Desire HD is riddled with stuff that I simply don?t want: 3Mobile-TV, 3Musik and Planet3 were all installed alongside third-party apps such as Amazon MP3, Bebo, Bejeweled Deluxe and a demo of EA?s Sims 3.
    Who?s responsible? Networks, largely, which receive clean handsets and then load them up with rubbish after signing deals with numerous partners. And it?s not like you can just get rid of this software, either ? most of it?s there to stay, with hard-coded blocks in place to ensure you don?t uninstall any of the tat you don?t want.

    And then there is this minor irritant called Malware Infected Apps.  This is an old article but the issue will continue because of the open nature of Google’s App market.

    Google has had to remove yet more malware-infected apps offered in its Android Market. As spotted by the Lookout Security Team, 50 applications were infected by a variation of the DroidDream malware that hit in March. Lookout is referring to the new malware as DroidDreamLight and says up to 120,000 Android users might have been affected.

    “Many Android users may have deliberately chosen to go with that OS rather than Apple’s iPhone iOS because of the more relaxed attitude to apps,” he says, “Personally I would like to see Google take a more “hands-on” approach to app security. If they don’t, the malware problem is only likely to get worse.”

    Brad likes to paint the picture that open is better, but in these two areas the fact that Android is more open then iOS results in negative consequences for the end user.

         
  • Posted: 13 September 2011 12:41 PM #19

    Nice post, Pats. The question I have for Brad is, can he place his software in the various stores and the various versions of Android or does he have to modify his software to make it work? And if he can port it, how much does he have to modify it to make it work?

         
  • Avatar

    Posted: 13 September 2011 02:09 PM #20

    FalKirk - 13 September 2011 03:41 PM

    Nice post, Pats. The question I have for Brad is, can he place his software in the various stores and the various versions of Android or does he have to modify his software to make it work? And if he can port it, how much does he have to modify it to make it work?

    I think all the developers wether for iOS, Android, or WebOS, Windows 7 ect. Make value judgements on which platforms to support.  There is obvious a small group of developers who are true open source advocates and therefore refuse to operate in Apple’s curated marketplace.  For the more pragmatic developers the decisions are more likely based on more concrete things, like who’s paying the bill and what is their requirement, or in the case of independent developers, where can I make the most bang for the buck, wether that is using a freemium model, or a paid app or some combination.  When Brad complained about Netflix, he seems to forget they are a for profit company and the added work caused by the Android open source model meant they would have to delay the release of Netflix on Android.


    I have attached the post since Brad seems to overlook the facts

    Hi, this is Greg Peters, from Netflix product development. We recently announced the availability of Netflix on Windows Phone 7 devices, which, alongside the iPhone, represents the second mobile phone platform we have enabled for streaming from Netflix. Notably absent from current supported mobile devices is Android and I wanted to provide an update on where things stand with this important platform.


    We regard Android as an exciting technology that drives a range of great devices that our members could use to instantly watch TV shows and movies from Netflix. We are eager to launch on these devices and are disappointed that we haven?t been able to do so already. The hurdle has been the lack of a generic and complete platform security and content protection mechanism available for Android. The same security issues that have led to piracy concerns on the Android platform have made it difficult for us to secure a common Digital Rights Management (DRM) system on these devices. Setting aside the debate around the value of content protection and DRM, they are requirements we must fulfill in order to obtain content from major studios for our subscribers to enjoy. Although we don?t have a common platform security mechanism and DRM, we are able to work with individual handset manufacturers to add content protection to their devices. Unfortunately, this is a much slower approach and leads to a fragmented experience on Android, in which some handsets will have access to Netflix and others won?t. This clearly is not the preferred solution, and we regret the confusion it might create for consumers. However, we believe that providing the service for some Android device owners is better than denying it to everyone.

    We live to get Netflix on new devices, so the current lack of an Android-generic approach to quickly get to all Android devices is frustrating. But I?m happy to announce we?ll launch select Android devices that will instantly stream from Netflix early next year. We will also continue to work with the Android community, handset manufacturers, carriers, and other service providers to develop a standard, platform-wide solution that allows content providers to deliver their services to all Android-based devices. I?ll keep you updated on our progress.

    Of course the recent update does not solve all the problems since it doesn’t support all the android tablets.  Read through the comments you’‘ll see more then a few who still can’t get Netflix.  It’s great that Netflix continues to add devices but that hardly is a cause for no fragmentation problem in Android.

         
  • Avatar

    Posted: 13 September 2011 04:33 PM #21

    Actually, the latest Netflix (1.4) allows it to run on all 2.2 and 2.3 devices, including rooted devices and those with custom ROMs. I installed it on my B&N Nook Color running Cyanogen directly from the Market with no problems. A slightly modified build from XDA runs well on the mainstream Honeycomb tablets. While Netflix isn’t officially supporting that build, they haven’t had an issue with it either. As I understand, one of the XDA devs modified the “.apk” manifest so that it would install on Honeycomb. Users download the apk from XDA and side-install.

    Of course, some users run into problems, which are often associated with limited RAM in some devices, low storage availability, or insufficient network bandwidth. I’m sure if you browse the comments on the app in the App Store, you can find users with similar kinds of issues on iOS devices.

    @FalKirk: This silly app that I wrote (it’s written in Java to Android SDK 2.2) would deploy fine in any app store for Android apps. I don’t use any app store specific features such as in-app purchases or server-based copy protection. It runs great on phones and tablets running 2.2, 2.3, and Honeycomb.

         
  • Posted: 13 September 2011 06:33 PM #22

    pats - 13 September 2011 05:09 PM

    We recently announced the availability of Netflix on Windows Phone 7 devices, which, alongside the iPhone, represents the second mobile phone platform we have enabled for streaming from Netflix. Notably absent from current supported mobile devices is Android and I wanted to provide an update on where things stand with this important platform.

    Wow, I hadn’t realized that Netflix choose to go with Windows phone 7 before taking on Android.

         
  • Avatar

    Posted: 13 September 2011 08:48 PM #23

    Quelle surprise! One of the mod hacks moved this topic without comment. Start a topic about how Android is too fragmented to survive into the next quarter, it sticks in AFB. Take a dissenting view, it gets moved out. Typical of the intellectual dishonesty that permeates that forum.

         
  • Avatar

    Posted: 16 February 2012 08:49 PM #24

    http://www.bgr.com/2012/02/16/android-5-0-jelly-bean-could-push-fragmentation-to-new-heights/

    Found it interesting that 4.0 has only 1% adoption…

    Signature

    Mac switchers see my profile for switching help…

         
  • Posted: 23 February 2012 02:35 AM #25

    Their original issues were hardware DRM of devices and various screen sizes.