Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cellphones Google Businesses

Carriers, Manufacturers Are Strangling Android 306

Posted by kdawson
from the fate-of-cuckoo-chicks dept.
loconet writes "This article in Gizmodo claims that Android's fragmented model is harming it, but Google has the power to save it. The rumored Google Phone could be a ploy to upset the wireless industry, or it could be an expensive niche device. Either way, it would be a bid to take Android back from the companies that seem hell-bent on destroying it. '...once handset manufacturers (and carriers, through handset manufacturers) have built their own version of Android, they've effectively taken it out of the development stream. Updating it is their responsibility, which they have to choose to uphold. Or not! Who cares? The phones are already sold."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Carriers, Manufacturers Are Strangling Android

Comments Filter:
  • What a nightmare. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 19, 2009 @04:52PM (#30500724)
    You have to hand it to Apple, at least they handle updates pretty well.
    • Re:What a nightmare. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Stevecrox (962208) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:21PM (#30500836) Journal
      I'd like to big-up Nokia at this point, my Nokia 5800 has had 4 firmware updates since I bought it a year ago. Each one has added new features and speed certain things up (Nokia Maps 3.0 is massivily superior to Maps 1.0). In the same time things have gone from Nokia PC Suite, to Nokia Ovi and Nokia Music (Nokia Music was horrific) to now Nokia Ovi 2.0 and Nokia Ovi Player (Musics replacement is actually good).

      While carriers have slowed the progress of updates down (O2 took 4/5 months to role out the last one) Nokia has consistantly moved to keeping their phones updated and providing better integration with the PC side and mobile (even down to little things like icons).

      The one downside I can see is I used to go through a different Windows mobile every 12-18 months, I'm almost at the end of my current 12 month contract and I can't see the point of changing the phone. Unless I can get double/tripple the battery life, since the current GPS setup drains the battery something chronic (4/5 hours continious GPS Navigation use and the batteries toast).
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by BitZtream (692029)

        Having lots of updates is not in any way impressive, it means they didn't do things right the first damn time and rushed it to market.

        • by Unoti (731964) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @06:44PM (#30501170) Journal

          Having lots of updates is not in any way impressive, it means they didn't do things right the first damn time and rushed it to market.

          Releasing updates is not always an admission of failure. It's delivering an improved user experience.

          Taking your argument to the absurd helps illustrate the fault in your logic: if your statement were always true, and all companies always did the right thing, then no software would be released to the world yet, at all, because we have not yet written and perfected every feature that everyone wants. A ludicrous idea, of course. The idea I'm trying to illustrate is that it is desirable to periodically release software when it is good, and release it again later when it's even better or does even more.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ppanon (16583)

            "Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien" - Voltaire

            Best is the enemy of good. If you wait for the best, then you can wind up waiting forever. Often people will be better off having something good now that they can use rather than spend more months or years waiting for perfection. On the other hand, just because you have something good enough now doesn't mean you should get complacent and stop striving for perfection.

        • Re:What a nightmare. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Jurily (900488) <jurily@@@gmail...com> on Saturday December 19, 2009 @08:43PM (#30501668)

          Having lots of updates is not in any way impressive, it means they didn't do things right the first damn time and rushed it to market.

          90% now is more than 100% never.

      • Re:What a nightmare. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@slashd[ ]org ['ot.' in gap]> on Saturday December 19, 2009 @07:12PM (#30501308)

        I have the same phone (developing for it too), and it doesn’t matter if you have a branded carrier-updated model.

        Changing the internal ID that controls, which update mod it’s going to pull, is ridiculously easy. There is a small tool, and a huge list of all IDs of all Nokia phones for all carriers!
        You change the ID, run Nokia’s own updater, and you’re done! (Just to into the themes menu and back out, for the theme to initialize properly.)

        So everybody can have the very latest updates.

        As for the GPS. That’s not the worst problem. The worst problem is, that without a data connection, GPS is not working and useless. It just tries to find satellites. According to Nokia, it takes up to 40 minutes to get the first fix, then it’s fast. 40 minutes?? A TomTom does it in under two seconds! Like pretty much every GPS device (including phones) out there. And they don’t want to admit that it’s a serious bug too. Which puts a big dent in the otherwise huge respect that I have for Nokia, because of their strong support for QT, Linux, and open source in general.
        On my phone, even 40 minutes do not help. I can be in a place with nothing at all around me. No trees, no buildings, nothing. And yet, after two hours, I don’t get a fix. Unless I enable A-GPS. Then’s working as expected.

        I really recommend installing Maps Booster. It’s a software similar to the iPhone’s “fake” GPS, which uses wifi hotspots with a database of ID/location mappings, which even works inside rooms, and adds to the overall quality. The only problem is, that for that you also need a data connection. Because it pulls the IDs from a constantly updated online database. (The same that the iPhone uses, btw.)

        All in all, I guess you can’t do without a data flatrate nowadays. Which costs around 20€ here. Too much for the average user.

        • Re:What a nightmare. (Score:5, Informative)

          by CTachyon (412849) <`ten.noyhcat-sonorhc' `ta' `sonorhc'> on Sunday December 20, 2009 @06:44AM (#30503200) Homepage

          [...] As for the GPS. That’s not the worst problem. The worst problem is, that without a data connection, GPS is not working and useless. It just tries to find satellites. According to Nokia, it takes up to 40 minutes to get the first fix, then it’s fast. 40 minutes?? A TomTom does it in under two seconds! Like pretty much every GPS device (including phones) out there. [...]

          That is either physically impossible or sheer dumb luck, depending on your device.

          Some explanation of GPS is in order. For a GPS receiver to work, the GPS network [wikipedia.org] must send it three pieces of data: the almanac data, the ephemeris data, and the current time (to atomic accuracy). Some receivers cheat and can get by without the almanac, at the cost of slow satellite locks and inaccurate position fixes until the almanac is available.

          Among other things, the almanac tells the receiver a general, fuzzy idea of where all the satellites are located, and also gives the receiver a chance to measure the amount of ionospheric distortion (the single biggest cause of GPS position errors). The fuzzy satellite positions are valid for about 6 months, but the network only transmits one full copy per 12.5 minutes. You physically can't download it faster than that via the GPS network: GPS transmits in a repeating loop at a mere 50 bits per second, slower than an ancient 300-baud modem. Worse, the ~4KB almanac is only part of the GPS data, so the download rate is even slower than that. Oh, and to add insult to injury, GPS has no error correction, so if a section is corrupted you have to wait another 12.5 minutes for a retransmit.

          With the almanac in hand, the receiver next needs the ephemeris data, which provides satellite orbital parameters in detail far beyond what the almanac specifies. This is absolutely mandatory for obtaining a fix. Once downloaded, it's good for about 4 hours, but the data is specific to each individual satellite. One satellite's ephemeris takes 12 seconds to transmit from start to end, but they can be downloaded in parallel. (As with the almanac, there is no error correction. If the receiver misses part or all of an ephemeris, it has to wait 30 seconds for the next retransmission.)

          The clock data is similar to the ephemeris, except that it takes only 6 seconds to transmit. It's on the same 30-second retransmit loop as the ephemeris.

          With all three pieces of background information at hand, a 60-bit signal every 6 seconds keeps the clock data up-to-date. This is what the receiver is paying attention to once it has a "lock" on a satellite. 3 locked satellites gives a latitude, longitude fix by making some educated guesses. 4 locked satellites gives a far better latitude, longitude fix and adds altitude as well.

          In summary, if your TomTom truly has zero almanac data and zero ephemeris data (i.e. it's a fair "first fix" fight), the time to first fix must necessarily lie in the range from 12 seconds to 30 seconds... if the TomTom can download ungarbled and pristine ephemerides from 3 or more satellites simultaneously, without a single bit error among any of them. This also assumes that the TomTom is cheating by foregoing the almanac, trying to get a fix from ephemeris only and not correcting for the ionosphere.

          The only possible way you can get the claimed 2-second fix is if the TomTom (a) already has a current almanac (or is deliberately foregoing one), (b) already has current ephemerides for multiple still-visible satellites, (c) already has very fresh clock data for those same satellites, and (d) gets lucky and catches 3 or more of those still-visible satellites with known data that all just happen to be transmitting their respective 60-bit subframe headers (1.2 seconds minimum, 6 seconds maximum) within the same 2-second window. As I recall, the TomTom backs up the almanac, ephemerides, and clock data to fl

      • Re:What a nightmare. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by moosesocks (264553) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @08:42PM (#30501660) Homepage

        My firmware update story:

        My LG enV2 with Verizon has had 6 or 7 firmware updates since I got it, all of which correct serious bugs with the original firmware (including a particularly pesky one in which the keyguard can randomly deactivate itself).

        Although the device theoretically supports pulling down firmware updates over the air, Verizon don't appear to use this feature. Frustrated by the phone's various quirks, I brought it to a Verizon store a few weeks ago to have it reflashed. The clerk there told me that she could do it, but that she'd probably brick my phone in the process, but that for just $100, they'd be able to guarantee me that it wouldn't be bricked (ie. they'd replace the handset with a new one). My contacts would also be lost in either case -- this particularly reeked of BS, given that Verizon offer a backup/transfer service at no charge.

        I looked the poor girl straight in the eye, and said "Are you serious? You're going to break my phone and charge me for it?" To which she replied "Pretty much." I told her my contract was due to be up, that I was almost certainly switching to another carrier, and that I wanted my phone back. She clung onto it, and told me she might be able to convince her manager to sell me a new phone for $75 instead. It took several minutes (and finally some rather loud profanity) to get her to finally give me my phone back. (I should add that I'm a *very* mild-mannered individual, and that I've never raised my voice to a retail clerk prior to or since this incident)

        My contract is up in January, and most certainly will not be renewed thanks to this, and many other similar incidents.

    • by jonwil (467024) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @06:33PM (#30501112)

      One of the best things Apple did with the iPhone is to ensure that Apple is responsible for distribution of update and that the carriers have no say in when updates are released.

  • I don't think it's reasonable to complain about the spread of updates yet, I think over time they will tend to smooth out.

    Plus, I don't think it matters. Look at all the people will ing to jailbreak iPhones, or to apply custom firmware to Windows Mobile devices. If the carriers don't update, most users will if it's possible - and I think for the most part users will be able to upgrade phones since Android is open. It will just be a more quirky process than the iPhone offers, but in the end people can mak

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:21PM (#30500838)

      Look at all the people will ing to jailbreak iPhones

      The main reason why people jailbreak is to get decent apps that will never be approved (such as emulators) on their phone. With a lack of a central authority forbidding such things, most people are less likely to root their Android device unless they are geeks.

      • Such as what again? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by SuperKendall (25149)

        The main reason why people jailbreak is to get decent apps that will never be approved (such as emulators) on their phone.

        You were saying? [toucharcade.com]

        I think people jailbreak for either (a) more customization, (b) pirating, (c) free tethering. At this point there are very few classes of desirable apps that aren't able to be on the app store.

        With a lack of a central authority forbidding such things, most people are less likely to root their Android device unless they are geeks.

        Unless they need to do so to install softw

        • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @08:00PM (#30501492)
          Ok, there is a big difference between a C64 "emulator" that lets you run 5 games, disables BASIC and such. And an emulator that lets you run any ROM, patches, mods, and homebrew.

          At this point there are very few classes of desirable apps that aren't able to be on the app store.

          There are a lot of apps though that are rejected for little to no reason. Such apps would be good for jailbroken phones. Things that "were too similar to iTunes", had "objectionable content" or used "undocumented APIs".

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mjwx (966435)

        With a lack of a central authority forbidding such things, most people are less likely to root their Android device unless they are geeks.

        As a rooted Android phone owner, this is definitely the case. Without "Apple like" application control there is no reason for most people to attempt to gain elevated privileges. I can install a tethering or OBEX (bluetooth OBject EXchange) application without root permissions. There are a few applications that require root but as Android develops more and more as a plat

  • by Z00L00K (682162)

    Since phones are frequently replaced for various reasons the software upgrade issue seems to be less interesting anyway.

    A new model replacing the old with better hardware comes at least every year. And people do drop their phones and a lot of other things happens too.

    • by James Carnley (789899) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:32PM (#30500884) Homepage

      It may be different where you live, but here in the United States we sign two year contracts that come with subsidized phones. That means that the majority of churn on handsets is rated at two years per device.

      Two years is a long time. I would not want to be stuck on Android 1.5 for two years when a fairly simple upgrade to 2.1 would unlock a huge new increase in functionality of my existing hardware such as turn by turn navigation and Google Goggles.

      I much prefer the European model of unlocked phones, but changing the industry is a whole other topic in itself. I am hoping Google has the ability to change that, but we will see.

  • by eyepeepackets (33477) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:00PM (#30500752)

    Here is the Ars article from time past on the subject of just why Google decided on the ASL instead of the GPL:

    http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2007/11/why-google-chose-the-apache-software-license-over-gplv2.ars [arstechnica.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:08PM (#30500772)

    Cell phone carriers are, at least in america, holding back cell phone software. The subsidized-phone business model gives them the oppourtunity to control everything about customer's phone software. Most basic carrier-sold phones are a nightmare to use, filled with ugly, confusing branded interfaces and annoying "stores" that sell overpriced useless games and ringtones. Apple did something right by cutting a tough deal with specific carriers in order to prevent them from branding the phone. Google's "all comers" strategy has opened them to the megalomania of the carriers.

    • by migla (1099771) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:20PM (#30500830)

      Honest question: How subsidized are "subsidized" phones in the US, really?

      Here in Sweden you can get phones locked to an operator too and you can get them with a commitment to stay the course of one year, for example, but looking at the increased monthly cost and/or cost/minutes, it seems they're not subsidized, but it's more like an instalment (hire-purchase) plan.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rich0 (548339)

        In the US they're also like an installment plan, but you pay the installments whether or not you get a free phone out of the deal. It is a BIG ripoff, and it is the reason why I have a collection of perfectly fine old phones lying around - if I pay the same to keep the old phone or get a new one, why wouldn't I want the new one?

        • by horatio (127595)

          I have a collection of perfectly fine old phones lying around

          If you want to get rid of the phones, these guys will take them for a good cause: http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/ [cellphones...ldiers.com] (Try to ignore the stupid music player, not sure who decided that was a good idea to set the auto-play).

        • Here's the reason: once you're off the contract, you're wasting money, but you don't have the contract holding you down. You can leave at any time.

          Someone who is a better negotiator than myself could probably parlay that into some savings. I'm still trying to figure out what to do about the "extra charges we choose to bill you for that aren't taxes" part of my bill. I mean, it's not taxes, and it's not part of the advertised price of the plan, how the hell can they be so brazen.

          Yet.. I still pay it. I'm

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Rich0 (548339)

            Yup, that would be the other thing that I would legislate (besides separating the billing items for phone subsidies and plan fees) - the advertised cost of the plan is what consumers have to pay, and not a penny more. For that matter, unless a consumer agrees there can be no incremental costs beyond the advertised plan cost. Carriers may not offer a discount on the plan if you agree to pay extra for texts/etc, either. The whole surprise-$500-SMS-bill thing has to go away.

            Add-ons should be add-ons, and if

      • by fyoder (857358)

        It's as you say, obviously no phone company is going to take a loss, so you're locked in by a contract in some form that allows them to make it back over time. Where I live one of the big boys, Telus, has created a spin off mobile phone company, Koodo, for all the hep young people which advertises no contract, but then they have what they call a "tab", against which 10% of your bill payments go. If you leave them before your tab is paid off, you have to pay the balance. But at least it's not an evil old

      • You can get a basic phone for about $100 without a contract, or you can get a $600 phone for $100 with a contract, or you can just pay the full $600 without a contract.

      • You find that often you can get a phone for $0-$50 that is $300+ if bought retail. For example when my office got my my 8330, the cost online for one was like $300. Since we bought a plan, Verizion sold it to us for about $25. They really do give you the hardware at a price that is a loss to them. However, one thing to note is that quite often their plans aren't any better if you provide your own hardware. They often still require a year contract. So you can debate how much they are really doing for anyone.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nerdfest (867930)
      Phone companies have no interest in supplying phones that allow you to use information (over their pipes) as efficiently as possible. The more you are online, the more it costs them in infrastructure. They have have to appear minimally better than their competition.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)


        Phone companies have no interest in supplying phones that allow you to use information (over their pipes) as efficiently as possible. The more you are online, the more it costs them in infrastructure. They have have to appear minimally better than their competition.

        Traditionally this has been the case, but for carries that don't offer "unlimited" data, there is an interest to encourage you to make the most of data usage. Data is the new voice.

        • by dnaumov (453672)

          Phone companies have no interest in supplying phones that allow you to use information (over their pipes) as efficiently as possible. The more you are online, the more it costs them in infrastructure. They have have to appear minimally better than their competition.

          Traditionally this has been the case, but for carries that don't offer "unlimited" data, there is an interest to encourage you to make the most of data usage. Data is the new voice.

          Let me let you in on some inside information. The operators are HORRIFIED at the prospect of mobile network users actually using their unlimited data plans as much as possible. Most operators don't offer unlimited data because they want to be nice to their users, they do it because everyone else offers it too and people want it. So operators go on with offering unlimited data plans despite the fact that in most cases, their networks are NOWHERE NEAR capable of handling it. Right now, every single mobile ope

  • by syntap (242090) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:10PM (#30500780)

    Windows Mobile, which unlike Android has always ranged from okay to sorry, must be updated by the phone manufacturers unless you luck out and your model gets attention from ROM cookers. Yet it has lived for over ten years... why would the expectation for Android be any different? Perhaps I am being cynical, but this smells like fear-mongering from parties that still think WinMo has a future.

    • by mrmeval (662166)

      How is this different from scrUbuntu, Gnome, Kde, Fedora, etc and etc?

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      WinMo has been around in one form or another longer than Google has actually existed, I think its a bit premature to write it off at this point.

      • by AuMatar (183847)

        Its been around forever and has a negligible user base- its losing to Symbian, Apple, nokia s40, RIM, and half a dozen proprietary OSes. Android will beat it within a year, 2 at most. WinMo is just not an important phone OS. The only reason it ever got anywhere was it was the easiest open SDK OS to program for (just buy visual studio) so it was easy to target. Now its lost that, its dead.

    • by forand (530402) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @06:27PM (#30501084) Homepage
      The 10 years when WinMo was a major player was characterized by NO consumer choice after the original purchase. Blackberry and Palm were the same way. Now the consumer is beginning to understand the benefits of having an open platform untied to their carrier. So if Android phones get locked down to the same level that WinMo, Palm, and Blackberries where for years then it will have to compete on crutches with the iPhone. Sure there are unlocked phones available but not enough to justify a vibrant marketplace al la iTunes.
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) * on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:19PM (#30500822) Journal
    1) (Practically)Free VOIP when in WIFI zones instead of using minutes.

    2) Internet Browser in WIFI zones.

    3) No commitment plan, but maybe minutes bought on a trak phone style buying.

    4) Ability to write my own custom aps on the phone.



    This is my dream phone because I can use it as a home phone and never have to pay for it. Everything past that is bonus.
    • by migla (1099771) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:26PM (#30500860)

      It's as if you're fishing for the answer "N900"...

    • My E65 can do all that. It doesn't have a large touch screen, but I can program it in Python! [nokia.com]

    • by lamapper (1343009) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @07:02PM (#30501266) Homepage Journal

      1) (Practically)Free VOIP when in WIFI zones instead of using minutes.
      2) Internet Browser in WIFI zones.
      3) No commitment plan, but maybe minutes bought on a trak phone style buying.
      4) Ability to write my own custom aps on the phone.

      If you do not want to bite the bullet and purchase the N900 (around $599) you can get a N800, first came out in 2006 for around $200. Remember even with the price of the Nokia N900, if you ditch your $50 per month cellular plan, you will recoup your costs in 1 year. If your cellular plan is more than $50 per month, you will recoup the cost of the phone faster.

      The ONLY thing the N800 does NOT have when compared to the N900 is cellular. Based on your list, no cellular, you can do everything you want to do with the Nokia N800. The N800 still has the FM chip like the N900 also. A plus with the Nokia N800 is it has a reversible webcam, you simply rotate it to change from taking a picture of you to a picture of something/someone in front of you.

      Most important, ONLY with the Nokia Nxxx (which you have root access to) can you install any Linux app you want. Expect to do some tweaking. But the reality is you have a shot at it. Remember the first Nokia Nxxx, the N770 came out in 2005. At one point there were over 450 apps for the Nokia N800. While I was NOT surprised that the website for apps for the N900 did not list them all, I would be surprised if you could not get them to work on the Nokia N900.

      Ideally you want an application to just install on your phone, even Linux apps. Thanks to apt-get and yum, most Linux software applications can be configured to work on pretty much any Linux distro. All it takes is your patience and time. However if you do NOT have root access, you will be limited with what you can configure. You always want access to root with any Linux distro, or do not use it as you will end up frustrated in a blind alley one day. Just not worth wasting your precious time that way. (I use su and sudo, but I must have access to root, just in case, period, end of discussion)

      Next years Androids are suppose to come (with the ability to root day 1, or so the rumor goes) from Google. If they follow through with that hope, then those phones will be equivalent (and possibly better than) the Nokia Nxxx. Currently the Android can be rooted, however Google has sent Cease and Desist orders to people who not only root the phone, but include other Google apps on it. In other words, Google does not officially sanction rooting at this time. They tolerate it as long as you do not include other apps, but that is it.

      • by Qubit (100461) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @09:35PM (#30501830) Homepage Journal

        Currently the Android can be rooted, however Google has sent Cease and Desist orders to people who not only root the phone, but include other Google apps on it. In other words, Google does not officially sanction rooting at this time. They tolerate it as long as you do not include other apps, but that is it.

        To be fair, I think that Google has only gone after people who break the rules in a pretty clear and unambiguous fashion:

        - Root your phone? Sure, no problem. Take your hardware + the Apache-licensed Android software on top and go to town. You can even distribute the software, as it's under a FOSS license that allows redistribution.

        - Put the Google apps on top of that self-made hardware + software stack? AFAIK, that's okay too, as long as you do it yourself.

        - Distribute a one-click installer for all of the above? Nope, not allowed to do that if you include Google's proprietary software products.

        All in all, it seems like it's pretty obvious what's allowed and what's forbidden. Heck, it seems like you can even ask them if something is legit or not and they'll give you an honest, helpful answer instead of biting your head off like some other companies.

  • Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:19PM (#30500824)

    I'm not entirely sure what this article is trying to prove. Android has been out for a year. It takes most software companies 6 months to ready a new release, test it, and put it out to market. If anyone (carriers or manufacturers) are interested in keeping their hardware on dated software, that won't be clear until at least June.

    And his supposition that handset manufacturers have no incentive to make their already-sold handsets operate well is just stupid. If you get a reputation for not updating your software, people won't want your hardware. And the carriers have even more interest in keeping software up to date.

  • I'm an iPhone user, but I really hope this takes off. There are some interesting features in the Droid and competition is always a good thing. On top of that, separating the phone from the provider is a Win in my book. Yes, it will remove the overt control from the provider, but it will also have the effect of eliminating contract termination fees, and it could also potentially bring about better standards that ALL cell providers would be forced to follow as well as better pricing in the long run if they ar

  • September 2008: Android 1.0
    March 2009: 1.1
    May 2009: 1.5
    September 2009: 1.6
    October 2009: 2.0

    Sorry, but by the time a phone maker qualifies the newest version for use on a particuar phone, it's likely there'll be a newer version of Android out...so...why bother? If you're always going to be behind the timjes, might as well just concentrate on your newest offerings, instead of trying to make sure that Android x.x is backwards compatible with your old hardware.

    Perhaps a major release with new features only once

    • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @09:31PM (#30501822)

      We've been working on native mobile apps for our systems the past 6 months. iPhone has been pretty good to work with. You build your software, if it works on one iPhone (or iPod Touch even), it will work on the next in the same exact way. Now there may be differences in OS (2, 3, 3.1, 3.2), but at least the hardware is the same and operates the same way. Same pretty much with Blackberry as well as they have the classic Blackberry style and then the Storm. There are some hardware differences between models, but basically you have to make sure it works on your normal blackberry and then the Storm series phones.

      Windows Mobile is a nightmare. You can write the software, but it runs on so many different hardware platforms, each with their own difference (some have a stock UI, others a manufactures UI, others a carrier UI), that it takes a lot of time an expense to debug it. And even then we still get complaints that things don't work on XYZ model phone that we had never even heard of before. Our app maybe perfectly usable on one phone, completely unusable on the next because of screen size or one has a touch screen, one only has a keyboard interface, etc..

      Unfortunately for Android, they're going down the same road as Windows Mobile. As it stands right now, we have to test against 3 different OS versions (1.5, 1.6, 2.0) AND test usability against different configuration. How does it look on AB size screen vs. CD sized screen. How well does it interface with touch screen? How well does it interface with keyboard? Does it run well on processor version X vs. Y, etc.. That adds a lot of cost to develop for in testing and QA.

      We'll give Android another year and see. But if some of these problems don't look to be righted by Google, then in the future we're likely to support iPhone and Blackberry native and then develop a web-based interface for everything else to keep down costs.

  • Android won't die (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rovolo (1695142) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:25PM (#30500854)

    The manufactures aren't trying to destroy Android, but the negligence is sure to stunt its growth. As long as Android is free and provides a good tech demo companies will continue to use it to sell the newest version of their phone.

    Without a more cohesive foundation it will probably stagnate though. The same thing happened with Linux; 'the year of the linux desktop'. Linux has survived not because of market viability but because technical people liked it. It still doesn't have more than a couple percent of marketshare (in the consumer market.) Android has an advantage in that smartphones are more integrated platforms than desktops, and people expect less expandability, but each smartphone will be a part of the manufacturers brand, rather than the Android brand. On a fragmented market it's much more difficult to deliver expanded functionality in the form of applications to consumers. It will be more like the crappy java games that you'd see on old phones than the market for desktop software.

    It's a new concept for phone companies though, and they'll probably start updating the OS once they get used to it. If they don't though, Android will probably see a limited success.

  • A naive question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Entropius (188861) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:26PM (#30500864)

    I will admit that I don't understand the standards behind the cell phone industry, but why are cell phones so strongly coupled to the service providers and, well, not open?

    If I want a landline, I can go buy any old phone I want, and as long as it speaks the right protocols (which are pretty simple for analog landlines) I can plug it into my wall, and it works.

    If I want internet service, I can go buy Ye Olde Acme Cable Modem, plug it into my wall, call up my local ISP, and poof! I have internet.

    If I'm out of disk space, I can go get a hard drive from Seagate and stick it into any machine I want to.

    In so many other engineering situations, interoperability between one component and another is restricted only as far as it is required to be based on the manufacturer's engineering decisions. (I can't mount a Nikon lens on a Canon camera because they have two different ways of doing autofocus, for instance.)

    Why the hell can't cell phones be this way, instead of the current quagmire where they're hopelessly entangled with what the carrier wants? I want a cellular carrier that charges a fair price for service (per byte and per minute, or whatever), and then lets me use whatever device I want to use that service. If I can stick a radio into a TI-89 and make it speak CDMA, let me make phone calls with it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Scrameustache (459504)

      Why the hell can't cell phones be this way, instead of the current quagmire where they're hopelessly entangled with what the carrier wants?

      Because that's how the carriers [wikipedia.org] like it.

    • Re:A naive question (Score:5, Informative)

      by david.given (6740) <dg@NOsPaM.cowlark.com> on Saturday December 19, 2009 @06:42PM (#30501162) Homepage Journal

      Why the hell can't cell phones be this way, instead of the current quagmire where they're hopelessly entangled with what the carrier wants? I want a cellular carrier that charges a fair price for service (per byte and per minute, or whatever), and then lets me use whatever device I want to use that service. If I can stick a radio into a TI-89 and make it speak CDMA, let me make phone calls with it.

      Because you're in America, the land of the fee.

      More seriously, CDMA is a large part of the problem. Most CDMA phones aren't designed to work with multiple carriers. The phone ID is hard-coded at build time and tied to a particular carrier. This means that it's really hard to change them to another carrier.

      GSM phones work differently. The network ID, the bit that is tied to a particular carrier, is actually housed on a smartcard that plugs into the phone. You can remove the smartcard and insert it into another phone, and presto, that phone adopts the smartcard's ID and logs on to the appropriate carrier.

      While you still get subsidised phones with GSM that are locked to one particular carrier, and will refuse to work with a different SIM, the fact that this is possible and easy has encouraged a whole industry of unlocked phones and SIMs. You can go into any supermarket and buy a SIM in a box [tesco.com] (that one is $7 and contains $15 worth of credit). If you need a phone you can either buy a cheap SIM-less phone [tesco.com] (that one costs $10!), but they'll work in any unlocked GSM phone. The end result is that I, living in the UK, can spend about $30 a year on mobile phone service. That includes data.

      (If you hunt around you can actually find SIM-only options for GSM phones in America, but of course this requires you to live in a GSM area; plus, the terms are usually terrible with unpleasant features like evaporating credit if you don't use it.)

      There is apparently a standard for a similar CDMA smartcard system, but it's now too late and nobody cares.

    • by Firehed (942385)

      If I can stick a radio into a TI-89 and make it speak CDMA, let me make phone calls with it.

      You know most phones have a calculator app built in already, right?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tepples (727027)

        stick a radio into a TI-89

        You know most phones have a calculator app built in already, right?

        Four-function calculator != programmable algebra calculator. Apple would never let TI or anyone else make an iPhone app with the functionality of the TI-89 or even the TI-83 for the same reason that the C64 emulator got pulled: BASIC.

    • by spinkham (56603)

      Well, you used to legally be required to lease your phone from Ma Bell.

      http://www.porticus.org/bell/bell_system_property.html [porticus.org]

      You CAN still go buy an unlocked phone and connect it to a providers network, you just pay through the nose for the phone, and don't get a discount from the carrier. They'll be happy to connect it for you as long as the tech is rthe same though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bri3D (584578)

      If I want a landline, I can go buy any old phone I want, and as long as it speaks the right protocols (which are pretty simple for analog landlines) I can plug it into my wall, and it works.

      It took the US government to end enforced landline phone rentals and open up the analog telephone network in 13 F.C.C.2d 420.

      With today's moves towards "deregulation" I don't think we'll see the cell industry being forced to do anything similar in the near future.

  • Wasn't the point of android to give the carriers and users the freedom to have the phone they wanted, instead of having a single company push a phone down their throats? What is the difference between a google pjhone, and apple phone, or a RIM phone? The promise of an android phone is that one might have a application based smart phone that could be used between providers. That one might have a phone made for end users, with apps made for end users.

    Even with fragmentation, it should be possible to writ

  • The worst handling has to be the way Samsung has treated us who bought the Galaxy.
    No update to either 1.6 or 2.0 but the lower end models, like the "Spica" (which began its life as Galaxy Lite) will probably be updated.

    They could at least release the source code needed for someone to compile Android as a third party software but they refuse. Really, really bad. My last Samsung phone, you can be sure of that. The phone stopped working after 3 weeks also - I am still not sure if it can be repaired.

    • My brother has one of Samsung's terrible touch screen phones. It's one of the older ones (not android), and it actually supports streaming advertisements! (At least some things on the phone do)
  • Hard to believe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Renderer of Evil (604742) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:52PM (#30500966) Homepage

    It's hard to believe that Google chose to go with what essentially is the open-source version of the broken WinMo model in a post-iPhone world. They got this thing all backwards.

    Perhaps they should have came out with Nexus One from the outset and then set up some kind of a reference design for all other manufacturers, instead of letting various handset manufacturers to cook up their own custom distributions. That way you could have one unified experience for the developers to follow. It's starting to look like Linux on the desktop -- something that sounds amazing on paper but doesn't quite work in the real world when you put it in front of non-geeks.

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      What on earth is a "post-iPhone world"? Seriously - the mobile phone market, let alone the rest of the world, doesn't revolve around the Iphone.

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @05:57PM (#30500986)

    Apple maintains total control over it, sticks to their guns, and the product isn't bad.

    Google gives the carriers complete control, and it turns to shit.

    This isn't a new pattern, this is the way its been all along and is one of the reasons the iPhone is doing well.

    You wouldn't get email on your phone with out an extra $10/month charge from AT&T if it was in their control. Maps would be the same way. Data would be $0.10/kb or packet, whichever amounts to the largest possible bill.

    Apple and the iPhone didn't sell so well just because of the hardware or software specifically. Apple's total control over the system is actually a blessing, contrary to what most seem to think.

    • by Shatrat (855151)

      Apple maintains total control over it, sticks to their guns, and the product isn't bad. Google gives the carriers complete control, and it turns to shit.

      Wouldn't you rather YOU were in control of your own phone?
      That's what the Nexus One is intended to bring about, it seems.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Wouldn't you rather YOU were in control of your own phone?
        That's what the Nexus One is intended to bring about, it seems.

        I personally wouldn't because I don't have the time nor the energy to waste on customizing or hacking the phone to work as I see fit. There are actual professionals who do these kinds of things and I'd like to defer the user-experience part to them.

        On a list of things in my life I'd like to control, mobile phone is probably the last thing.

        It's always a plus when you're using an app or a g

        • by Shatrat (855151)
          My grandparents say all the same things about their computer.
          ;D
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by KonoWatakushi (910213)

          Just because you have control over your phone, does not mean you are not obligated to customize or hack it in any way. You are concerned about compatibility, but Apple's lock-in model is actually the antithesis of compatibility.

          To put it in car terms, you want an Apple-controlled car, that can only drive on Apple-approved roads. Since Apple knows best, and obviously has your interests in mind, you would willingly subject yourself to such control.

          Well, if you really want to be a tool, that is your choice,

    • by mdwh2 (535323) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @06:51PM (#30501210) Journal

      Except Apple have a few per cent market share - so actually, by your logic, people prefer more open solutions.

      Believe it or not, there's more (far more) to the mobile phone market than Apple and Google. Nokia, Samsung, LG, Motorola, RIM. But you wouldn't know it from reading Slashdot.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Sycraft-fu (314770)

        Last I checked, Symbian was the largest OS on smartphones. After that was Windows Mobile, and then BlackBerry OS. None of them are very locked down. Carriers may be able to lock down their phones, I'm not sure, all the ones I've owned were open in that you could load any app on them you wished from any source.

        Of course most phones aren't smartphones. Many non-smartphones have capabilities that kind of blur the lines, but still the majority of the market is "regular" cellular phones as in small bar or flip p

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vakuona (788200)
        That's one way of looking at it. The other is to say Apple has the most successful single smartphone out right now. Nokia may sell more, but Apple is selling 3 variations of one phone which look and work exactly the same. (OK, maybe two if you count the 3G as different from the 3GS) For that reason alone, its return on investment is stellar. They design one phone, and sell 20 million of them at premium prices, and everything just works. Getting 15% of the market with exactly one product is the stuff compani
    • by shentino (1139071)

      Then it appears that the carriers are the real enemy here.

    • Where do you get "Turns to shit"?

      The potential for that to happen is there but it certainly hasn't happened as of now.

      I have a Motorola Droid and it's fantastic. It's far and away the best smartphone I've owned.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 19, 2009 @06:10PM (#30501032)

    How about:

    Journalists, Bloggers Use Overwrought, Hysterical Headlines

    From the stop-taking-yourselves-so-fracking-seriously dept.

    The linked article basically talks about how different phones are using different versions of the Android OS.

    OH NOES. You mean they aren't all running identical versions?! It's being strangled! It's strangulation, I say! Woe unto those who have slightly different versions of software on their phone, for truly they shall be cursed from on high!

    Seriously people. Take a deep breath and calm down.

  • All the carriers care about is getting people to use air time.. anything else is an expense the cuts into their profits. .

  • I don't think the article appreciates where most consumers are at. Most consumers have simply cell phones and will continue to have simply cell phones. Most cell phones today are for all practical purposes, smart phones. What most consumers do not have, have rejected for the past 15 years, and will continue to reject, is a device that is a big rectangular brick that happens to also let you make calls, what used to be a PDA, and is now a mobile internet device (MID).

    Android is an OS that is first and foremos

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sznupi (719324)

      That doesn't really look like that in the real world...

      First, you have Creative Zii, some Archos devices, etc. Essentially an Android iPod Touch-style thing.

      Secondly, I don't see Android competing with Symbian devices that much; the latter are, most often, sturdy candybars at least two times less expensive (without contract!) than cheapest Android phones, which are all large touchscreen devices - not really cheap, but definitely on the cheap, a bit.

      One chart is worth thousands words: http://en.wikipedia.org [wikipedia.org]

  • One More Time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fm6 (162816) on Saturday December 19, 2009 @10:45PM (#30502036) Homepage Journal

    Somebody please explain to me why Android matters. What does it have that all the other phone OSs don't? Better APIs? Nicer SDK? I imagine a lot of geeks like the idea of owning a hackable phone, but that's not enough by itself.

    Whenever I ask this question, I get answers that only address issues with the iPhone, like the fact that nobody tells you what software you can run on it. Please recall that there are a lot of phone OSs out there.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Mobile_phone_operating_systems [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by wintermute000 (928348)

      It matters because of the google sauce.

      On a serious note, the integration of google services is second to none, and a lot of people live pretty much on google platforms (reader, mail, etc.) . The theory is that down the track there will be lots more apps eventually than symbian or winmo. But they're not doing too well on that front by all accounts as the iphone app store is steamrollering the competition and drawing all the developer efforts.

      The new turn by turn (Free) on Android 2.0 is pretty slick too, th

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken

Working...