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Cellphones Google Open Source Operating Systems

Will Android Flavors Spoil the Platform? 405

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the kajillion-dollar-question dept.
rsmiller510 writes "Open source operating systems have a lot of upsides, but when you give cell phone makers and providers the power to customize the phones to whatever degree they like, it could end up confusing consumers and watering down the Android label."
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Will Android Flavors Spoil the Platform?

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  • by symbolset (646467) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:00AM (#33587228) Journal

    Since the competitors don't have choice and can't get it they have to argue that "choice is bad". If you like choice though - if you prefer a less expensive phone or one with all the bells and whistles, or larger or smaller or whatever, Android is an obvious choice. If you like to choose the phone network based on pricing or features, quality of network, or how badly they restrict the phone's features to maximize your bill, again Android is a clear winner. If a single great design that's wholly integrated and secured by a single vendor is your preference, iPhone is a grand choice - and that's great! You get to choose that too.

    Lack of choice as a feature though is in general a tough sell.

  • Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:02AM (#33587260)
    ... in the same way that all the flavors of GNU/Linux have spoiled that platform.
  • pfft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:02AM (#33587262) Homepage

    I love the fact that there is such a wide variety of Android phones. Different features are important to different people, and being able to choose between different phones gives them the opportunity to buy one that caters towards whatever the find most important (good screen, good keypad, good camera, etc.)

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <{taiki} {at} {cox.net}> on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:04AM (#33587294)

    This is the old fragmentation debate.

    Choice isn't a bad thing. Too much choice is. What can Android 1.6 offer me that 2.2 can't? It's a little ridiculous. Why should cheaper phones be stuck on 1.6 when they're fully capable of running 2.2?

  • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:04AM (#33587296)
    Yeah, but let's not forget the crapware that used to (still does?) ship with pre-build computers. You end up spending hours just getting rid of the crap Dell, HP, or eMachines decided should belong on your computer, all because they each wanted to have a custom install. I'm sure many users would have gladly paid even more to just get a vanilla copy of Windows.
  • by dyingtolive (1393037) <brad.arnett@NoSPAM.notforhire.org> on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:08AM (#33587358)
    Terrible news everyone. Android enables the ability to extend usability and functionality beyond what the native platform supports! It's not a one size fits all shoehorn! What a failure! God, I need to sell my stock quick!!1

    You know. I've never bought a car thinking it had any features in it other than the ones I knew it had. How about instead of treating consumers like they're the awkward creepy man-child that greets customers at Wal-Mart, we just expect people to have enough interest in the product to do their research and read the fucking box and reviews to find out what the device is even capable of? I mean, are there any reasons other than because the expectation of personal responsibility is dead?
  • by calderra (1034658) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:09AM (#33587368)
    Yes, all these Android flavors spoil the platform, but not in the way most people are pointing to. Personally, I think the problem is that stock droid sucks. Stock droid sucks especially hard considering I can only get Droid X (I accept no substitute) bundled with a ton of Verizon bloatware that keeps running no matter how often I shut it down and I'm sure it's broadcasting my location information and lots of stuff. And the default launcher is slow, fairly ugly, and not entirely stable. LauncherPro is everything the stock launcher should be, but it bugs me constantly with pop-ups about paid features. If stock droid would learn more from the droid community, the droid brand would be faring better. Spending $200 on a phone just to hear "everything on your phone sucks- download these dozen programs to patch it up"... sucks.
  • I Agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:10AM (#33587388)
    I know I'll get modded to hell but I think that Android is in danger of suffering to forking into different carrier-specific versions. I believe that people _will_ hear about cool features that an Android phone offers, buy an Android phone and find out, too late, that it's available on _other_ Android phones, not the one they bought. This will start to result in negative user experiences down the road.

    The plus side of it (being fair here) is it is really driving competition and making the different forks of Android as well as iOS better because of it. It's forcing manufacturers to drive to improve, which is good for the consumer but, for people who want Android to win, it will soon become a discussion of specific forks of Android because there will no longer be one unified version.

    Heck, I find myself looking at Android phones thinking "if I were to switch from my iPhone, which one would I be interested in getting?" (I won't be switching - I like my iPhone - but I like to contemplate which version of Android interests me to keep my options open and all that.) That, to me, is a clear sign that the differentiation is real and something people need to keep in mind.
  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:12AM (#33587448)

    it also enables the CARRIER or vendor to 'comment out' stuff that we would want and adding crap to our screens that we do NOT want. and often you cannot change this, as its not really a 'portable pc' as people want to think. its still in a lock-down mode when it comes to your ability to do things with ALL 'google phones'.

    google did not control the carriers. they made a huge mistake in this design aspect.

    this is the problem.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:16AM (#33587520)

    you don't see the point.

    the point is that with 'gnu linux' you really CAN own your own pc and do anything you want.

    cell phones are NOT the same no matter how much the vendors want you to think so.

    each phone has its own way to do things, upgrade, change, etc. its as fragmented as it can be!

    if you're in the middle of it, you probably won't see it. as a non-owner (but looking, every so often) I do have to say that the market is quite insane and unless you invest a LOT of time researching it (boring...) you end up with a crapshoot.

    it does not take that long to pick a pc or motherboard or cpu or add-on card. but to research a 'new phone' can take days or longer. too much variation!

    and this is fully on purpose. confuse the consumer and cloud the issues.

    a really ugly market; but vendors see a lot of money since almost all living human beings now 'carry a cellphone'. its not just computer users they are selling to, its anyone who is still alive. HUGE market. it attracts, uhh, the wrong kind of sellers and marketers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:17AM (#33587538)

    And if you go to a Verizon store and look at the current Android offerings, you can see the crappware is already becoming a problem. The original Motorola Droid looks vanilla compared to the Droid X, 2, etc.

  • Re:I Agree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SputnikPanic (927985) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:18AM (#33587544)

    TechCrunch had a really good post [techcrunch.com] a few days ago about carriers exploiting the openness of Android. Worth a read.

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:23AM (#33587646)

    $70 is still very close to the general $100 point.

    plus, many carriers are FORCING this $30/mo '4g' fee just, well, because THEY CAN.

  • No (Score:2, Insightful)

    by UndeadCircus (1883202) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:23AM (#33587648) Homepage
    I personally find that the Android phones that are out now all have horrendously ugly interfaces; HTC comes to mind first. They need to have one, and only one, GUI for the interface. Anything more than that and the only way you can tell it's Android is by looking at the "taskbar" items at the top of the interface.
  • by socsoc (1116769) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:24AM (#33587664)

    a few weeks after you buy a 'smartphone' some other model makes yours a POS.

    I agree with your points and I think the quote above illustrates the Android fragmentation problem. My 3GS is still going strong and I'd likely buy an Android device, if that phone could sustain itself with updates for awhile, like NexusOne has done. Instead, they'll just come up with an an X and a 2 version...

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:27AM (#33587730)

    you can remove pc crapware. we really do own complete control (even bios) over our pc's.

    do you really think you can totally re-program a phone from open source code?

    really?

    when you buy a phone and it comes with icons and features you want to remove and can't, how is this OPEN again?

    its not open. its open on some areas but not in the ones we need. when ATT comments out the software sources menu option, this is a prime example of what we are complaining about!

    locking boot code is also evil and yet allowed by the android system or architecture.

    really bad move, google. google just bad much worse deals than apple did with the carriers. apple DEFINED what was ok and what was not. google said 'hey as long as we can insert ads, we don't really CARE what you do mr. vendor.'

    very different models in how to reign in your carrier. google had as much control as apple did but chose not to flex their powerful muscles. they made bad judgement call when they let the carriers run wild with THEIR codebase.

  • by rsborg (111459) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:28AM (#33587740) Homepage
    It's not the 90's and 00's of Linux, but the Unix wars of the 1980's where proprietary Unixes battled it out for the workstation market. The corporate greed of Unix vendors (as opposed to the ideological Linux battles after-wards) allowed a Microsoft to flourish and eventually control the high end market.

    Despite Google being the unifying factor, the carriers are even more greedy and less capable than the Unix vendors of old, and meanwhile Apple remains ascendant and proprietary.

    Inconsistent user interfaces diminish network effects and will suppress Android adoption... then there are abominations like the Verizon vCast store [androidpolice.com].

  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:28AM (#33587756)

    From TFA:

    Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of open-source tools, and Android has the potential to offer all the advantages of an open platform, but it also gives the handset and cellphone providers the power to customize and add endlessly to their phones.

    So just what is the advantage of an open platform if OEMs are not allowed to customize it? I see Android like the Linux kernel on which it is built. The Linux kernel powers all manner of desktops, phones and other devices with a wide variety of user interfaces. Similarly, Android is a building block to make a phone user interface. It allows manufacturers to make an HTC phone, or a Motorola phone (etc).

    And what is the alternative? Lock down the OS so OEMs can't replace applications with their own choices? Isn't that the practice that causes everyone to complain about Microsoft? Just imagine that the default browser in Android was Internet Explorer. Would anyone here complain about manufacturers replacing it with anything else on their model of phone? No? Then it seems a bit rich to complain about any other customization of the platform.

  • by mark72005 (1233572) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:29AM (#33587780)
    Nobody "has" to jailbreak an iPhone. It works just fine without it.
  • Re:Yes... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alvinrod (889928) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:35AM (#33587880)
    It wouldn't say spoiled completely, but it seems like the recent surge in desktop-Linux mindshare is mostly an effect of Ubuntu becoming popular. Most consumers don't want a whole lot of choice, they just want something that works. If they can have several choices of things that work, even better, but the Linux community was so fragmented across different distributions for a while that there really weren't any working solutions for a lot of folks.

    What's going to spoil the Android market is carriers adding tons of shovelware to the phone that can't be uninstalled [magicandroidapps.com], locked down the phone so you can't sideload applications [xda-developers.com], and all the other evil crap that they do.

    Yeah you can fix all of these problems if you root the phone, but the average user isn't going to be able to do that. You could also buy an unlocked phone, but I really wonder how many people know these even exist.
  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:49AM (#33588126) Homepage
    First of all Android is not a Google OS, it is an Open Handset Alliance OS. Google is one member company of 73. Google adds value just as any carrier or design and manufacturer adds value.

    Secondly, every phone you buy - at least in the US - is locked down, so your argument is that their Achilles heal is that - in one respect only - they are not better than the others.

    Thirdly, it is locked down by default, but nothing is stopping you from unlocking it or paying someone to unlock it for you.

    Finally, it is indeed a portable computer. You don't get to choose many things on the Windows platform - e.g. to IE or not to IE until recently - and yet nobody is saying a Windows PC is a not real PC.
  • Re:Yes... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DrXym (126579) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:49AM (#33588132)
    ... in the same way that all the flavors of GNU/Linux have spoiled that platform.

    I would not be surprised at all if the sheer profusion of dists have scared off a lot of people unsure even where to start.

  • Re:I Agree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kaiser423 (828989) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:56AM (#33588246)
    Currently, the carriers have almost no chance of surpassing stock, vanilla, latest and greatest Android released by Google in feature set. They're just not that good at software, and not nimble enough to beat the big G right now.

    Essentially, I think that the carriers ARE trying the "embrace and extend" business model to fragment and force lock into them for certain features. But the problem is that they're having problems with the "extend" part, because everytime they try to extend, they see that Google has moved the signposts a couple miles down the road! Your "extend" has to be better than the stock offering, and that means they have to be better than Google at Google's game. Best of luck to 'em.
  • PSA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mark72005 (1233572) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:56AM (#33588248)
    All this has completely soured me on Motorola.

    I advise everyone to stay far, far away from their Android offerings. After this burn, I'm not buying anything from them again.

    The phone was so locked down to start with, I should have done my homework and realized this was a trap.

    It appears they care about the Droid series, but nothing else. Don't assume Motorola will live up to their commitments.

    Run, don't walk, from Motorola.
  • by ichthus (72442) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:59AM (#33588290) Homepage
    Damn! I meant THIS LINK [modmymobile.com].
  • by HappyClown (668699) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:32AM (#33588904)

    Well, I'm comparing Apples to Androids actually ;) Where was my 'apples to oranges' argument? I'm talking about the difference of OS versions in the wild (which seems to be what really matters, not how things got into that state). I'd agree with you if that chart was showing versions of Android *currently being shipped*. It's not, it's comparing versions *in the wild*, same as the iOS figures, so I think it's fair to compare them. I agree that there is a difference in how the two situations came about. Some vendors are still shipping with older Android versions installed (nothing worse than 2.1 though AFAIK), and that clearly has an impact on the chart. Since the Android updates go out over-the-air though, the uptake of these releases is clearly far higher than upgrades being applied manually to old iOS devices.

    Bottom line is, there's a bunch of old Android phones running 1.5 and 1.6 that likely will never have their OS upgraded either, same as the iOS 2.x situation you described. Who's "fault" the fragmentation is (vendor vs user) doesn't really matter so much given that if you're an app developer, you'd need to be compatible with at OS versions from at least the past year or so regardless.

    As an aside, I've got two colleagues at work here with the 3G. One upgraded and has recently rolled back to 3.x, the other refused to upgrade after he saw the grief the first guy had. That was what motivated me to post about the issue in the first place. Your experience was clearly different so I guess it's a bit of a mixed bag.

  • by mlingojones (919531) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:54AM (#33589208) Homepage
    Android *is* open. Open for the carriers.

    The users, not so much.
  • by alen (225700) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:04PM (#33589366)

    all iOS devices have the same input. Android phones have keyboards, touch, some have stock android, some have OEM overlays, etc. with iOS all you do is test on the current OS and the previous version if needed. all the hardware will support it.

  • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:14PM (#33589520)

    What? you just totally contradicted yourself, and in the same sentence. So you are saying that iOS fragmentation is a user issue, not a device issue, so um, how do you upgrade the original iPhone to the latest version of iOS? There are the same issues here too, so get off your fanboy bus and try to be a bit objective.

    Support has ended on the original iPhone. It had 3 major OS updates from 1.0 through to 3.1.3. That's a pretty good run considering some Android phones haven't gotten any new major version. Furthermore because Apple tightly controls the API backwards compatibility for apps should be easy to maintain for developers for the foreseeable future, especially because the iPad is still on iOS 3.x. The difference is mostly in games pushing the envelop in hardware use and apps otherwise dependent on newer hardware but then that's the game isn't it ?

  • by tgd (2822) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:24PM (#33589690)

    Google doesn't give two shits about being open.

    Google cares about ad revenue. They needed an "open" OS because they couldn't force other phones to always funnel things their way. Verizon needs an "open" phone, because THEY want to ensure they can control it (rather than the phone vendor or user)

    Best to remember that, when thinking about Google and Android.

  • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:26PM (#33589732)

    You could argue that Google is allowing this while they build up critical mass. You would hope that once google is firmly entrenched in the market they would start to dictate what defines the Android brand better.

    Play nice with the carriers until they have to play nice with you or risk losing their Android users.

    That's BS, the carriers would just keep on using their outdated versions with a new theme slapped on (plenty of precedents with PalmOS and WinCE not changing for years.) Face it, Google caved and gave in to the carriers going as far as compromising their stance on net neutrality for a lucrative Verizon deal. It's a missed opportunity and let's just hope they didn't slam the door that Jobs forced open with the iPhone.

  • by GooberToo (74388) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:38PM (#33589906)

    Not that 1.6 is inherently more reliable than 2.2.

    Actually, its a fact that all devices prior to Android 2.x have a fundamental OS flaw and are inherently less reliable. Android 2.2 adds limited JIT capability to the platform, fixes various life cycle problems which still existed at the start of the 2.x series (which is one of the reasons why 2.x is fundamentally broken), and goes a long way toward improvement memory management.

    In a nutshell, all devices running Android prior to 2.01 have fatal life cycle, memory and resource management flaws.

    In fact, one of the reasons why task killers briefly became popular on Android is exactly because of these horrible OS flaws; which I previously blamed on applications. Task killers are not only no longer needed, but they don't even work on Android 2.2 and later. The fact of the matter is, while many of the problems I blamed on applications were in fact application problems, many were not or were a compounding of application and OS bugs/flaws.

  • by daemonenwind (178848) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:40PM (#33589934)

    First, Steve Jobs complains that Android is fragmented and offers too many versions.
    No one else had said it before.

    Then a bunch of second-rate tech websites echo it.
    Then it gets reposted here and a bunch of 7-figure IDs and Anonymous Cowards post "me too" stuff.

    Do I have to spell out a marketing-company forged FUD campaign? Has it been so long since IBM vs. Microsoft? Do we really need to re-learn what this looks like?

    If a carrier abuses the phones, leave the carrier.
    If a phone comes out neutered, don't buy it.

    Having a codebase that moves rapidly forward is a simple fact of computing since broadband got big. Calling it a weakness is pure bullshit, especially when the competition moves (at most) at the rate of about a significant change once per year.

  • by twbecker (315312) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:51PM (#33590124)

    Yeah, because there's plenty of carriers out there you can give your business to, especially ones that don't come with shitty customized software.....oh wait. No one is saying Android itself as an OS nor the pace at which it's developed is a weakness. What people are saying is that it's bullshit when you have to replace a device that's less than a year old just to take advantage of new features. You can't trust carriers to guarantee an upgrade path at all, let alone a timely one.

  • Re:I Agree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:59PM (#33590260)

    If they see a cool feature on a friend's phone, they'll buy _that model_, they won't figure out what OS it runs and start looking for phones with that OS expecting it to have that particular feature.

    That's the problem because that's exactly what will drive the vendors to proprietary extensions. You might say that's just more choice for the consumer but the real problem of fragmentation is for the developer. They have to make sure their app/game works across all different versions, different hardware, submit it to different carrier specific stores, etc.

  • by twbecker (315312) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:05PM (#33590356)

    Agreed. The notion that iOS is more fragmented than Android is laughable. All iPhone models short of the original are fully capable of running the latest iOS, if some *users* choose not to upgrade for whatever reason that is *their* choice. Unlike Android where even newly purchased lower tier models don't ship with the latest version, and may very well never be able to upgrade to it.

  • Re:PSA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by shugah (881805) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:34PM (#33590798)
    This is to be expected to some extent since Android has been on the steep portion of both the adoption and development curves. Early adopters of any new technology should expect this.

    Android 1.5 (Cupcake) released 30 April 2009
    Android 1.6 (Donut) released 15 September 2009
    Android 2.0 (Eclair) released 26 October 2009
    Android 2.1 (Eclair) released 12 January 2010
    Android 2.2 (Froyo) released 20 May 2010

    Five releases in a 13 month period, the next release (Android 3.0 - Gingerbread) is not due out until November/December.

    The pace of OS development has created a moving target for handset makers, carriers, developers and users alike. Many manufacturers and/or carriers who shipped phones with 1.6 had planned on skipping 2.1 and going straight to 2.2. to minimize the costs of integration and testing 2x in 1 year. Consumer "pull" however in many cases forced their hands. The good news is that that the pace is slowing. Froyo (2.2) has basically all of the features and functionality of the iPHone 4, so for many users, there may not be any big push to adopt 3,0 (which is really targeted towards tablets) when it is released.

    Fragmentation however doesn't really concern me. Unless app developers start developing apps the depend upon MotoBlurr or Sense, there is little to be concerned about. Even these skins are going to be less important as time goes by and Google focuses on standardizing the UI (at least the wigets and api's).
  • by ChaosDiscord (4913) * on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:56PM (#33591164) Homepage Journal

    There appear to be two types of people: people very concerned about Android's fragmentation and its inevitable demise and people who actually own Android based phones. Thank you for your concern, but we're doing fine, thanks. We're busy enjoying the ability to install software from third parties without going through the Android Market, the ability to choose easy to root phones, the ability to choose phones we can easily replace the core operating system on, and more.

    On a related note, us Linux users are also somehow surviving in the face of dozens of distributions.

  • by wfolta (603698) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @02:51PM (#33591954)

    Why are you waiting for your carrier to upgrade your phone OS? Root the damn thing and upgrade it yourself.

    Used to be that people in these here parts made fun of Apple (where "fun" is a euphemism) because you had to root the iPhone in order to customize it. Now it's become a *positive* thing? I must've missed something on teh twitter.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @03:57PM (#33592746)

    People act like google has some magical power to make the carriers bend over for them.

    Google had all the leverage they needed over the carriers, because they have the only viable alternative to the iPhone. Other carriers saw iPhone exclusive carriers like AT&T snapping up customers, and they needed SOMETHING to compete.

      carriers never would have bought into android if it didn't have the potential for customization,

    And yet many carriers bought into, and still carry, they iPhone which allows none of that.

    Furthermore, Google could have allowed skinning without going so far as to allow the search engine to be replaced entirely with Bing! Or mandated the Google App Store on every device, instead of seemingly making it rather difficult to get permission to include the App Store.

    there are locked down, restricted android devices. there are also open, unrestricted devices.

    And if all the carriers market is the locked down, restricted devices for how much longer will you have the open ones?

  • by LostMyBeaver (1226054) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @02:39AM (#33597186)
    Apple's model for the telephone market is almost definitely better for application developers. An application developer can buy 3 models of phones (and iPad if you care about that thing), test on each and be sure that everything works. The fact that iOS is such a closed platform is fantastic and makes it so that we developers can be more confident of what we ship to the public. It also means that we can optimize code to run well on all the phones which run that operating system.

    Android on the other hand is more like the next step of Symbian... with slightly better design and control. Symbian was a heap of shit for developers. The API was a nightmare, content delivery worked only sometimes. Their package management system was a tinker toy. Additionally, their memory model was designed with a 25 year old PDA in mind, and their argument for it was that it needs to work with GCC 2.91. They implemented an ad-hoc exception model with a "clean-up stack" which was a lame excuse for auto-pointers as 2.91 didn't have good template support.

    Android on the other hand has a relatively simple development model and it seems as if application development (so long as native code isn't important) is really quite easy. You can code in their Java like language (I do this to help with the law suit to differentiate and call it something else) and make an app and get it running quickly. Unfortunately, it runs on about a billion different processors (there are tons of ARMs out there) with a gazillion (quite cool that word is in the spell checker) graphics subsystems out there (nVidia, frame buffer, TI, etc...) and there are a multitude of different types of touch screens (single touch, multi touch, hi-resolution, low resolution, no-touch, just joypad, high latency, low latency). There are a pile of audio subsystems, I won't even begin to cover the massive number of those, it's mind boggling.

    Writing simple cook book and business apps for Andoid is a charm. Takes far less time than on iOS, almost as little time as on Windows Phone 7 (which is WAY EASY) and can be tested more or less in an emulator without any problems. The only issue is the touch screen input which can be averted by making the buttons all a little bigger.

    Anything requiring high response rates, fancy input methods, real-time audio, etc... is a nightmare on the platform. It's even worse than on Windows. There are just too many methods of input.

    Android is a pretty neat touch screen platform that allows absolutely any manufacturer out there to make a full blown smart phone for almost nothing. Chinese vendors are already pumping these things out by the truckload and it's only a matter of time before it's possible to buy full smartphones for $50 or less.

    You can buy an after market iPhone screen and touch panel from China for $20 (free shipping). And they are pretty good replacements. This means that they can get them for less than half that. Cheap system on a chip ARM processors can be bought for less the same. It's entirely possible that you can get ALL the parts required to make a full Android phone in China for probably $30. The specs will be pathetic, but will improve rapidly over time. The result, an Android phone containing the bare minimum memory required to run the phone, the bare minimum CPU required to run a telephone call, the bare minimum audio quality required to hear the other person, probably not even enough specs to download an application.

    Of course, noone would buy these phones right? Well, probably not more than 100,000 of each model (which is the target Nokia sets for their mid-range smart phones). Remember there are a shit load of Asian people buy Chinese knockoffs of all these things. And what's best is, these aren't even knock offs. Thanks to the open source nature of Android, it's 100% legitimate to make these things. Of course, no westerners would buy these things. Umm... or would they. DealExtreme.com will sell tens of thousands of these. They'll be sold all over the Mediterranean and Caribbean islands to t

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