Another Open Source Operating System Opens Its Doors to Severe Problems
posted Saturday Mar 6, 2010 by Scott Ertz
Android has come a long way since it launched its first device November 5, 2008. In fact, it has come 1.1 versions since then. This advancement in technology seems to be a great thing, until you think that there are still devices running the original Android OS, which seems just as strange to me as the idea that there are still people using Internet Explorer 6.
This fragmentation in the Android community is a huge problem for Google and their plans to keep the platform viable. It is incredibly difficult for a software designer to make software when they have no idea what version of Android is being used. Imagine if you had to write software for only one version of Windows and it was your responsibility to pick which one. You would only be able to market to the elite early adopters or the people who have had their computers a while, but never both.
This is exactly the problem that Android currently has, but it is not the first time we have seen this. All Linux platforms have suffered the same fate, because Linux has no direction and therefore no standardization. Linux proper has never been a widely accepted format because nothing ever works for anyone, let alone a large collection of people. Apple has seen this with their OSX platform, in that software is not always compatible from one cat name to another. Linux mobile devices have seen the same thing, and some Linux developers have merged resources to prevent the issue any farther, such as Intel and Nokia at MWC this year.
Right now there are 4 major Android releases on the market (1.5, 1.6, 2.0 and 2.1)and no major support for any of them. Some devices have fairly clean versions, such as the Motorola Droid, while other have highly altered versions, such as the HTC Hero running Sense. While Sense adds A LOT of features currently unavailable on Android, such as full Exchange support, it also means an inability to upgrade to newer versions of Android (the Hero still runs version 1.5). This prevents newer software, such as Google Maps Navigation, from running on the device.
In addition, a lack of control over hardware has prevented a lot of device compatibility because of screen resolution. Google has made no hardware requirements like Microsoft has on the WinPho series, creating a whole new world in compatibility issues. Most graphics-based apps, like games, rely on a specific screen resolution, meaning these apps won't run on devices like the HTC Nexus One.
Google will need to lose this market fragmentation soon or Android will go the ways of Betamax or MiniDisc. But that is just my opinion. What do you guys think? Is this hurting the Android community, or is this just part of the growth of technology?