Phil Nickinson, Rene Ritchie, and special guest Michael DeGusta -- you might know his work from this post with a little chart in it -- talk about fragmentation, legacy, forks, and flexibility and how they challenge developers, designers, but most importantly -- consumers. This is a Mobile Nations Special Edition!

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There are 37 comments

joe007 says:

Phil you look tired.

vinny jr says:

Not getting the most recent update on a phone, the phones that are not the top dogs do not make them bad phones. 90% of most customers could not tell you what OS is running on their phone. That does not make it a bad phone, it makes it an Android phone that can still do twice as much as the newest I-Phone. The Froyo OS running on any phone is still a great user experience. The only customers who demand the latest and greatest is the geeks that watch these podcasts and I-Phone geeks who crave for something to rip Google for. Get over it, Android IMO is the OS of choice, I have owned The I-Phone and thought it was a locked down piece of crap. Just My Opinion.

original00 says:

Totally agree. I'm getting tired of people in the tech community complaining about updates when they know very well how to solve that problem
1. Get a Nexus
2. Root your phone

It seems like people want to eat their cake and have it....Have the choice and customization of android with the absolute update schedule of ios. This is impossible and people need to get over it. How many people can honestly describe the differences between honeycomb and gingerbread??

The bottom line is money talks and until the average customer understands their phone enough to demand updates from the carriers/manufacturers, it will not change. The funny thing is as soon as a customer becomes that aware...it stops being a problem because they are doing 1 or 2.

johncihak says:

"twice as much as the newest I-Phone"?? What have you been smoking?As an owner of a DInc, DInc2, DX, DX2 AND an iPhone 4S, I can tell you that the Android phones are junk compared to the iPhone 4S.

I spent months and months with unstable DInc, DX and DX2 because the GB update (that was delayed 6 MONTHS from Google's release) was so buggy the phones randomly rebooted all the time.

Compared to the iPhone, even the dual core Droids are laggy and unstable.

The Droid screens and cameras are total garbage. I was embarrassed to post any pictures taken with my DX or DX2 (the DIncs aren't as bad), where the iPhone shines.

The hardware of the iPhone shows most of the Android phones up as cheap plastic toys with cheap screens and bargain basement cameras. Consumers are getting ripped of buying this cheap Android junk for $300 with obsolete OS'es and little hope for a timely update.

nbell978 says:

Try an actually decent android phone before you consider them junk... Motorola sucks. My Galaxy S Captivate with CyanogenMod 7.1 runs circles around my brother's iPhone 4.

GameBoi says:

So wait, you bought a MOTO Dinc and had a bad experience and bought a MOTO DInc2 and had more bad experience and kept buying more MOTO phones? You're stupid! Sorry, but if I buy a bad phone from a manufacturer, I'm not buying another phone from them. You buying crappy MOTO phones has nothing to do with Google. Go buy a Nexus or a samsung and then judge. I mean, you have every right to like the iphone over androids phones, but don't call the whole platform sucky when you havn't use the other manufacturers phones.

ryocoon says:

First, Motorola does not make the Droid Incredible... HTC does. So he is talking at least two different major manufacturers of Android devices. DInc, DInc2 are HTC; DX, DX2 are Motorola. So please remove your head from where the sun doesn't shine. Don't flip out on the guy unless you have your own facts right.

However, the point does stand on that the Nexus devices are very good and constantly and lovingly updated. Standard hardware GUI acceleration would be something nice to have that is rarely implemented on most Android phones, and adds in to UI lag that a lot of people notice/experience. ICS is supposed to fix that, but that relies on ROM/Mods or the manufacturer actually updating (and hopefully releasing source).

onixblack says:

I don't think this guy is arguing the right thing. I think that android phones work perfectly for the end user and the ecosystem allows for change. The newest features may not be on your phone, but it still works and for him to compare it to car not working when you buy it is erroneous. Security issues are fixed constantly as soon as they're found. I was happy with 2.2 on my EVO and it was only my geekyness that wanted 2.3, in fact 2.3 fix a lot but brought some problems. We have to understand that the main consumer will not care if there is no update as long as their phone works and if they pay for a good phone than it should work well.

trimax84 says:

Thought the discussion was well done. I expected Rene Ritchie to bash on android, but thought he gave a fair perspective. Nicely done Phil!

kharrigan says:

+1

IMHO, this discussion sets the bar for intelligently discussing the challenges on both Android and iOS.

Also IMHO, the problem isn't fragmentation or dilution, it's purely expectations management. Apple (particularly the iPhone) has established the expectation that devices will be updated for features AND security concerns beyond 3 years. Competitors will HAVE to follow suit to compete - OR - reset expectations.

Rene Ritchie says:

I've got my Mobile Nations hat on so officially love all our platforms co-equally. :)

i am one of those geeks that would love new updates but i can live without them. my only big issue is with the lack of information given out. what phones are they working on trying to get updates phone, or even for that matter what phones are coming out. I have the moto atrix and i bought it in august not long after that the moto atrix 2 comes out so now that the successor is out, is there going to be updates on the original. So the only thing i am really disappointed with is the lack of information coming out. we never know when a phone is coming out what system its gonna have if there gonna have updates. i know some things they have to wait and see but if u have a phone coming out in a month do some leaks that way its not official so u can't be blamed if it takes longer to come out but it does not catch pp by surprise. The nexus we are annoyed by it not releasing yet(and yes i am annoyed) but what is really annoying not knowing if or when there coming out with a non Verizon phone. we assume they will sometime but will it be one or six months from now.

bjs188 says:

Sorry but that guy is a Delta Bravo.
"Google didn't update the Fascinate" No Crap. that is not their job. They release OS source code. Manufacturer compiles, readies for phone, (ie samsung in this example) and submit to carriers. Carriers eventually approve, begrudgingly because they don't want you to have new life in an old phone. they want you to upgrade, sign a contract and get a new phone with 2 yr commitment.

The blame lays with carriers. Does google make an android build for each phone? no. Samsung does for fascinate and their other phones. international and/or unlocked GS phones get updates kinda quick. In the states it's sprint first cuz they will release anything, even if borks your phone. Then VZW and ATT later. Does he really think samsung made 2.3 build for epic and international GS and not fascinate. Dumb A$$. please don't have this dude on again, he doesn't know what he is talking about. Makes it sound like random customer buys phone then it stops working. Random customers buying mid level phones don't know 2.3 from a hole in their head. Their phone works just fine.

scottyhifi says:

You've insulted him and completely agreed with him in the same bloated paragraphs. Well done.

bjs188 says:

I'm just trying to say his examples are pretty crappy. He picks what fits his argument. It's a good discussion to have, don't get me wrong, but in the first half he put a lot of blame on goolge, which I think is unfair. A lot of people like that Google doesn't exert it's will and force carriers to do things. Look at Sprint, they are good as far as pushing out updates quickly, but then there are bugs they have to fix again. Maybe the OEMs need to test their ROMs more before submitting to carriers. I can't imagine it's just SprintID and VCast making a ROM go to crap after OEM testing.

johncihak says:

Take a look at the Android return rates compared to Apple. Its obvious Androids don't work "just fine". Android return rate is 30-40% while iPhone is less than 2%. I've had to return 3 DIncs and 2 DX's. Unfortunately, the problem with the DX's was a bad and buggy GB release causing daily random reboots, but Verizon just doesn't have a clue.

http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/26/androids-dirty-secret-shipping-numbers-...

bjs188 says:

so was the DX fine with froyo and before GB update? if so, maybe that's a reason not to update. GB doesn't add much to froyo.

smooth3006 says:

i thoroughly enjoyed this debate. as much as i love android i agree there are too many phones being released and too many phones on different versions of android. yes i know you can root but not everyone wants to go that route. i also think the life cycle and support cycle are much too short anymore again this is because they are releasing too many damn phones.

our devs bring updates and fixes way before google or the carriers do. for example i can see a whole new slew of ICS roms being released in the next week or two. probably before the nexus even hits verizon.

Wicket says:

I don't think there is anything more I can say that hasn't been said but while I agree that there are issues in the ecosystem this guy trying to compare it to computers and cars was just absurd.. Yes there are a lot of phones that don't get updated, but like Phil said, should they? The fact is that it is in the hands of the manufacturers and carriers to get updates out in a timely matter and only in Google's best interest to do what they can to encourage it. if you want updates always you have 1 real option and that is the Nexus, that is the ONLY phone that can be compared to the iPhone in this manner, a Nexus device is the ONLY device that is Google's direct responsibility!
His comparing it to buying a new computer was just completely wrong as well. Computer manufacturers install a OS on their product if you need support for the OS you call the maker of the OS, if the device is faulty you call the manufacturer.. if the OS maker releases a new version neither they nor the manufacturer is required under any terms to make sure you can run and or give you the newest version..
anyways, guess I did have more to say lol!

scottyhifi says:

Him - 3 year old iOS devices are still getting iOS 5.

You and Phil - But SHOULD 1 year old Android devices really get updated?

This argument is asinine. My 1 year old HTC phone with a 1 ghz snap dragon processor(remember how much better that was than what the iPhone 3gs and 4 had last year), 3.7" screen, and 768 MB of RAM (more than even the 4s) should NOT be updated? But an iPhone 3gs having the latest software is comparing apples to oranges? Sorry, but I love my Android phone and still have a huge problem with this. Google needs to start to crack the whip or remove the "With google" logo from phones that do not get updated for 18 to 24 months...minimum.

shane_huskey says:

Perfect example of the basis behind Android. There are Android updates on the market and your phone will run it and that is exactly why there is a dev community. Find a ROM and run with it. That is what Android is for. The ones that sit around and wait for the carrier to push them a year old update are the exact ones that I was talking about that would feel much more at home with a cripple version of Android that is comfortable and easy or iOS.

scottyhifi says:

Just root your phone(often technical), void your warranty(risky) and find a ROM(is that on the google)? Is that the future of Android for the masses? Sorry, but this is not what people want from their mobile devices.

shane_huskey says:

Yes, it actually is. That is why Android is an option. For those that don't want to take the risk with an open source platform, there are other options, and some day, there will even be an easy option on the open source platform, but Android is still young. If you are wanting the easy to use, spoon-fed type OS, Android is definitely not it -- yet. When someone comes out with a UI to lay over the top of it that puts cartoon-ish type icons for each app, Android will be able to appeal to the group of people that are scared to root their phone (read: actually gain access to the device they bought) and put a rom that works for them (read: utilize the power of the phone they bought to do things they need it to do in order to properly interact with their life). Touchwiz almost did it, but didn't go iOS enough. Until someone does that, you have the way Android is now. If that is not your idea of what a mobile device should be, why do you have one that is designed for it? That really is the appeal of Android.

shane_huskey says:

And as far as Google cracking the whip on OEMs, why would they? HTC is doing exactly what Google wants them to do. They took the baseline Android software and made something from it. HTC doesn't necessarily have to run the absolute latest version of whatever Google puts out on their device. If you want the absolute latest stuff from Google, your option is the Nexus and always has been. Or the alternative is do what the original inventors of Android pictured being done, use a custom ROM.

parter288 says:

Please tell me you're joking... you can't seriously expect that phone to get ICS. That phone of yours comes w/ HTC Sense which takes up a huge amount of rom. There's no way ICS + Sense would fit on your phone (512Mb rom?) w/o stripping apart Sense/ICS, something that a manufacturer would never do. ICS is a big update IMO and brings many UI improvements plus added functionality.
You, just like many others keep mention how 3 year old iOS devices are still getting iOS 5, but really how much has it changed? Realistically speaking, what new evolutionary feature on the 3GS w/ iOS 5 does your Froyo or Gingerbread phone lack? iOS is extremely simplistic, and things like the multitasking previews on ICS take more horse power. If ICS was Apple's OS, do you think they would've pushed it to their 3GS devices? iOS has barely changed since it's first release. Would you rather ICS was a minimal update just so that it would fit on your phone? What's more while your Snapdragon is fast, it also has one of the weakest GPUs ever, it's not even close to the one in the Hummingbird.

scottyhifi says:

I'm far from joking. If HTC is going to put out a $500+ phone they need to support future upgrades. If their crappy overlay is bloated to the point that they cannot fit it on a 1 year old phone, they need to fix that.

You're doing a good job of making the point that Android is fractured because of the Senses of the world.

Wicket says:

I was not saying that any phone SHOULDN'T be updated.. I was referring to the low-end phones running Android that are, let's face it just feature phones. Beyond that I was saying that it's on HTC to upgrade your phone not Google, Google has already released updates and though I'm sure they'd love to see it on your phone HTC is to blame for a slow update process. It is however in Google's best interest to do something because everyone does blame them so they need to take harsher action to make sure the manufacturers and carriers are getting updates out quicker. Of course look at a lot of the recent updates we've seen for the T-Bolt, Incredible, Droid X... ALL had major issues and were pulled back worked on more and then pushed again. This may be the byproduct of them rushing updates because there has been so much pressure around this subject. I think having buggy messed up updates is worse than not having the latest version yet.
I agree with you to a point about removing the "With Google" logo from phones or something similar as a way to help consumers (or rather those of us that know enough about this stuff to care) know which phones are going to be updated and which ones to avoid.

Yadao says:

I personally can't stand that DeGusta. Not sure what it is... Maybe it's his sick relationship with his Chart.

shane_huskey says:

Android is working the way it was designed. I mean, I'm not sure what the original Danger idea was back in 2003, but I would have to assume that it was the same pitch that Google gave us in 2009 or Google would have never been interested enough to invest in it. Build a platform and see what people can do. The idea behind Android was to put out a baseline, let people run with it and make it their own. You certainly see it with Amazon and B&N, but what people don't realize is that it is easy for Amazon and B&N to do that because everyone else already did it. HTC did it with SenseUI, Motorola did it with MotoBlur, Samsung with Touchwiz, etc. Granted those are not nearly as in depth as what Amazon and B&N are doing, but they were the experimental ones. It happens in every part of evolution. The Model-T started things out in the right direction, but it wouldn't hold a candle to a Cadillac CTS-V with touch screen navigation and 500hp. On that same note, OEMs are actually sliding in a backward direction (idealistically) by pulling back on the reigns with their custom interfaces. Granted, stock Android works a lot better on most of today's devices than a loaded down mod would, but still the idea of Android was to take the baseline and customize it to make it your own. What the hacker/developers are doing is actually right in line with the idea behind Android. They are taking a stock, baseline version of the software and building on it. Kudos. That is what the Android community was originally supposed to be. Android was designed to be the "tech-savvy" user's device and was never designed to pull anyone that felt good in the comfortable ecosystem of other designers that give you a product as-is that works well for the user that just wants a device to use as designed (although, it can certainly be used as that, but I'll get into that in a minute). Android is essentially the mobile version of Linux distros. Did you find the average AOL user toying around with Slackware or Mandrake? Absolutely not. They were more than comfortable with WindowsXP because it worked well for them. They gave it simple commands that caused the computer to perform functions that they expected. There is your iPhone user or your W7P user. They expect comfort, they expect a refined experience, they expect that level of ease. Where things got thrown off track is carriers trying to market Android to those users. There is no reason that a snot-nosed kid at VZW should have ever tried to push an Android phone to 50 year old Joe Blow that asked why one phone has more "Jiga-bytes" than the other one. That is the problem, not the Android platform. If the kid at the store can get Joe Blow to buy a phone, he is going to try to sell it. Do you think your car salesman really gave a damn whether or not you needed a supercharged V8? Joe Blow may have felt completely at home with an iPhone, but instead he got a poor Android experience because the kid at the store just wanted to push the phone and ended up talking him into buying the worst Android phone on the market at that time because his manager told him that he would get a $0.15 raise if he sold 30 phones this month. The average user that is actually going to benefit from using Android doesn't even need that kid at the store other than just typing everything in the computer and giving them the receipt to sign because they have already done their research and know what they need/want (or they bought it somewhere off of the internet). Now back to what I was saying about how Android can fill the same role as iPhone. In order to make Android continue to grow, they have to continue to gain market share, but there are ways of doing it pretty much built into Android. Make a version designed for Joe Blow. Make a version that will get updates/fixes that doesn't necessarily have to be tinkered with to get it to work well. Make a version that has a nice big button styled user interface and all the menu commands broken down in easy to follow formats. It can still run stock Android underneath, but make a SenseUI/MotoBlur/Touchwiz style UI that brings the easy and comfortable experience of the iPhone and WP7 to the Android platform. That is not fragmentation, that is customization. Android is the mobile OS that can truly be designed for everyone if someone takes to time to build it (ala Windows Home vs. Pro) for different classes of users.

Now, I know this is a tech-savvy site, and I am probably about to get flamed all to hell so I'm going to throw this out there. I'm not some super colossal nerd and everything that I just typed is just my opinion. I am actually, in fact, in the Army and quite the opposite of being tech savvy, but all of this just seems like everyone is missing the common sense point of view by trying to start phone vs phone/user vs user wars over stupid shit. It seems like you are seeing nothing but brand myopia between the iPhone and various iterations of Android phones to the point that no one actually sees the real point. You see the same arguments in the gun world. One side will say "My GLOCK is perfect and I would trust my life on it" whereas the other side says "I don't want a tupperware gun and I'm sticking with my Sig P229". The guy touting his Sig has probably never shot a GLOCK and vice versa so both of them fail to realize that they are both great guns and if they would quit trying to convince everyone that theirs is the best because they are trying to justify their purchase, they would understand that while each may fill a different role, they both fill the role completely fine.

caveat: I am an Android user that has gone from the Moto Droid to Droid 2 and am currently waiting for the Galaxy Nexus to get released as that will be my next phone. I have also played around with the HTC Incredible, DroidX, Samsung Captivate, Droid Bionic and Droid RAZR. My iOS experience is limited to having owned 2 iPod touches and briefly playing around with various iPhones, but never having owned one.

TreSupreme says:

I'm not reading all of this lol.

shane_huskey says:

Yeah, sorry. I actually didn't even pay attention to how much I had typed until after I posted it, then I saw it and thought to myself "Uh, no one is going to read that..."

GameBoi says:

Dude, I was like "I'm not reading all of this." But read a little bit and couldn't stop. What you wrote is 100% true. Android is what you make it, I got a flashback to the G1 ads. They was advertising that you can make your G1 YOUR phone, and HTC "YOUR" commercials was the same too. Most android buyers don't know what OS version they're running, my friends don't even know the difference from HTC Sense or TouchWiz or what it is and it's right in their face. The people who KNOW better also know what their buying and about rooting and flashing. So I don't feel sorry for the dumbass up there who bought 5 crappy MOTO phones and blaming everyone but himself. Anyway, great comment dude.

shane_huskey says:

Thanks, and once again, sorry it ended up being such a drawn out comment. I guess it is just hard to get everything I wanted to say in just a few sentences.

sarriola says:

At least, things seem a little better for Android Tablet updates? I just got my 3.2 HC update on my Toshiba Thrive this morning Didn't see a big difference between 3.2 and 3.1 anyway.

patfactorx says:

If you have a laptop that can't run Battlefield 3 then you need to complain about fragmenation on PCs too. You are always going to get what you pay for. Most phones are free if you go on Amazon Wireless except for the new flagship phones.

HAAS599 says:

Version numbers don't define the user experience.

I'd take Froyo over iOS 5 anyday.

robotaholic says:

I think there should be MORE phones released with more choices and faster software update iterations...newer more advanced hardware specs- apple is stagnant, android has stimulated the market!