Some people insist on calling the fragmentation around Android “freedom of choice”, but that’s like calling a frag grenade an automated piñata. Truth is that Android’s “business model” is great in theory, but in reality it’s more like serving Red Bull to a bunch of 5 year olds and then giving them finger paint and letting them lose in an art gallery. By the time individual manufacturers get done with tweaking the OS for their own devices you’re lucky if it still looks like Android. In fact, it often doesn’t. Then you have hardware issues caused by everyone needing to have to have slightly different resolutions, screen sizes and capabilities compared to the competitors, making it borderline impossible to make apps that are truly universal. If you thought the difference between 1024×768 and 1920×1080 computer screens was big, try the difference between 240×320 on a Sony Ericsson X10 mini and 1280×800 on an Asus EEE Transformer. All of that is about to change though, as Google is finally getting a leash for all fingerpainting kids.
According to Blomberg, Google has started instituting “non-fragmentation clauses”, which are essentially terms for manufacturers that state they shouldn’t mess too much with Android. The aim of it all is to give people a single Android experience that they can rely on so they know what they’re getting when they’re buying an Android device. It’s also aiming to help with faster firmware upgrades, as current Android devices often don’t see updates for months, get released with old firmware from the beginning and go without updates at all, causing their lifespan to be drastically shortened.
Now that Google has just started a new chapter in Android’s history with Honeycomb and tablets, this is a great time to start organizing all these dumbass manufacturers. If they can manage to keep Honeycomb and future versions of the tablet OS more similar and easier to update regardless of devices, that’s one less point that other OS users can use against Android- and one more reason to buy Android at all.
The big question will be if this will work and how fast they can “stabilize” the chaos. It will be nice to see the end result, and I definitely think that Google is doing the right thing, even if it loses its status as “open”.[via Engadget]