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Cellphones Google Open Source Operating Systems

Will Android Flavors Spoil the Platform? 405

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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  • its a valid point (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:07AM (#33587330)

    I'm not a smartphone owner, not yet. I don't have a company paying my way for me and I'm not about to foot a $100/mo bill on my own. not yet and not with the current level of phones.

    a few weeks after you buy a 'smartphone' some other model makes yours a POS. well, almost. how can anyone buy in that kind of market and retain sanity?

    vendors are destroying the 'beauty' of the system. apple (I hate apple, btw) had it almost right when it controlled the carriers. the carriers are little children that run wild if not controlled. apple controlled them; android simply let them run even MORE wild.

    google fucked this up. and I think its too late now, the market is SO fragmented its actually damaged. fanboys won't agree but who cares what they think; its the rest of us middle-guys who simply want something stable and something SUPPORTABLE for a few years. the throw-away model every few months is not do-able for me, for this pricepoint.

    if there is ever a 3rd choice, I hope they learn from the 2 that 'came before'. apple model is too extreme but actually so is the android model. a middle ground needs to be there, really; and is not. we have the walled garden and the wild wild west where vendors can fark up YOUR phone and mostly get away with it.

    I'm still on the sidelines and not willing to fund this insanity until it levels out.

  • by cbraescu1 ( 180267 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:12AM (#33587438) Homepage

    Android is not a consumer brand, therefore its flavors can't raise or sink the brand. The whole premise is flawed.

  • by richdun ( 672214 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:18AM (#33587550)

    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.

    Yet none of these things (hardware and network) have anything to do with Android (software).

    Regardless of what us the technically inclined think, most users don't care about choice or technical ability or "free open source" or any of that. They have one requirement - "How can I make my gadget do a particular thing?" And if my gadget, which is supposed to be the same kind of gadget as my friend's gadget, has a completely different set of things it can / can't do, I'll just want my friend's gadget.

    The only thing keeping this debate open is that in the US, where most of these arguments are made, carrier lock-ins make true direct comparison impossible for most consumers. Make every device available on every network and we'll get an answer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:19AM (#33587584)

    Not much more I can say. After developing for a year and a half by myself, it has gotten unmanageable. I can make an app that is polished and slick for the Droid, but the ratings get dragged down by other devices that it apparently doesn't run slick on.

    As a single person I can't possibly manage all of the QA and customer service that all of these devices demand. It was fun while it lasted. Never developed for the iPhone but I can see how it might be a better experience.

  • Leave Android Alone! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrTripps ( 1306469 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:21AM (#33587608)
    The customizations many vendors tack on to Android suck (for the most part). Just leave Android alone and it works fine.
  • Re:its a valid point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dyingtolive ( 1393037 ) <brad.arnett@n o t f> on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:21AM (#33587616)
    Who has a throwaway phone they have to replace every few months? The Motorola Droid came out almost a year ago, and it's as usable as it was then. Hell, it even supports 2.2 of the OS. Who fucks up anyone's phone? Mine doesn't get an update I don't tell it to. Apple was just as hamstrung by the Vendors as the Vendors were by Apple. For one, look at the terrible press the Iphone/ATT got over the oversaturation of the networks in places like NY.

    Oh, by the way, I pay about 70 USD/month for my phone, have an unlimited data plan, and I'm on Verizon, which as I understand, is one of the more expensive carriers right now.
  • by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:22AM (#33587634) Homepage

    The problem is that carriers do not want you to have a general-purpose computer on their networks. They want to be able to sell you each. individual. application. The last thing they want is the end-user installing software, so they take steps to disable functionality. They want you to have a pseudo-smartphone, it looks neat, costs a lot, racks up the data charges...but isn't a general-purpose computer.

    This is at odds with what we all thought Android promised us: a real OS for our tiny computers that would let us treat the carrier like any other ISP.

  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:25AM (#33587688) Journal

    I have to say this, damn people.

    Look at all the different cars we can buy, food, shoes, clothes.

    Books, music, movies, etc...

    Do I really need to go on?

    This article is just flamebate, to cause peeps to get angry.

    Anyways, didn't we have an article that like 70% of the Android Devices were 2.0 and up?

    And I bummed my G1 is running 1.6? No. The phone works fine and does what I want it to. Keep my calender info, call people, receive calls, and i like to read ebooks on it.

    If I want Android 2.2, I can either use a custom rom, or i can buy a new phone.

    Just like everything fucking thing else.

    I'm going to add this. I'm glad we have all these choices. It's good for us. Now quit thinking you need to defend what you buy, because that sort of thinking is stupid.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:26AM (#33587710) Journal
    Three or four main distros each with three or four main desktop variants, each available in 64 bit, 32 bit, and who knows what else. To a newcomer, the choices are mind boggling.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:39AM (#33587954)

    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?

    The choice isn't directly between Android versions (no one would intentionally choose an older version of Android if that was the only deciding factor), it's between HTC Sense, Motoblur, GalaxyS, and other "enhancements" that manufacturers add onto the plain vanilla Android OS. These "enhancements" are the reason that cheaper phones don't get upgraded, because the manufacturers don't have the time/money/interest to adapt their special skin to the new stuff.

    Unrelated comment: TFA is utterly useless. Reading the /. comments is much more informative.

  • They miss the point (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sunking2 ( 521698 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:40AM (#33587966)
    All it takes is a few vendors to drop the ball with bad implementations, or go out of business dropping support to create a bad association with Android. That's the real issue. Bad PR goes a lot further than good. At some point someone will put out a really terrible version that will in some respect hurt the label.
  • by FyRE666 ( 263011 ) * on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:41AM (#33587984) Homepage

    As a developer this is exactly the reason I've moved to iPhone development, and away from Java on mobile devices. Nokia, Samsung etc ruined it for themselves by introducing conflicting extensions and quirks to their platforms, along with expensive certification schemes in partnership with the carriers that made distribution as a small company or sole developer prohibitively expensive and time consuming. Apple smoothed this out no end with its single store and platform.

    I'm no fanboy of Apple, or anyone else, but increased fragmentation, and the "embrace and extend" attitudes of phone manufacturers could well end up frustrating Android developers in much the same way.

  • by Digital_Liberty ( 259479 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:02PM (#33588360)

    So just what is the advantage of an open platform if OEMs are not allowed to customize it?

    They can make it work better with their hardware or network. The danger is changing it in ways that makes it incompatible with applications that run fine on other phones.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:04PM (#33588400)

    iphone 3g, 3gs, 4, 4.01, 4.1, original iphone, ipod touch 1 2 and 3..

    That list sounds daunting, but all you really need to test on is:

    iPhone 3G running iOS 3.2.

    iPhone 4 running iOS4.x (latest version).

    The 3G could run iOS 4.x if you only wanted to develop for 4 (which is realistic as the adoption rate of new OS releases is very high and rapid). After iOS4 comes to the iPad (November) I'm switching all development to support iOS4 only.

    The 3G is really the low bar for performance to test against, as long as it runs fine on that even the original iPhone will be OK (I know, as I do have all the models to test against).

  • The Real War (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:13PM (#33588574)

    I strongly agree with this article [].

    The war we should be paying attention to is not iPhone vs Android vs. WM7 vs Blackberry - it's us against the carriers. The carriers need to be dumb pipes, with device makers dictating what interfaces and software get used.

    But Google went whole hog the other way, letting carriers run amok after a promising start where it seemed like they would maintain a firm hand. Now it's at the point where a new Android phone will have Bing as the only search engine it's possible to use!!

    I'm a mobile developer and at times have considered Android development, but cannot in good conscious support a model that I feel screws the market over so badly. The whole open vs. closed argument is a farce, when for 99% of the population the iPhone is just as open as Android, and only the most technical can distinguish the difference.

    In fact, I feel so strongly about the issue of carriers taking over the smartphone world, that if I ever do move to support a second platform it will probably be WM7!!! And believe me, in the not so distant past I would never have wanted to support Microsoft because of misgivings about them. But I feel it's important to support any company that is willing to try and dictate control over the carriers, and I believe Microsoft had said they planned to fix the UI for WM7 and not let carriers modify it.

    If you do buy Android, try to buy phones that the carriers have not worked over.

  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:33PM (#33588914)

    When I bought my iPhone 3G it came with iOS 2.0. Now it isrunning iOS 4.1. I didn't have to pay anything(that's only iPod touch devices). I didn't have to wait 2-12 months for the updates after they were announced.

    I am looking at andriod phones and one that I was interested in, onethat was released new in June is still running 2.1 with no plans by the company to upgrade it to froyo. That is market fragmentation. When officail updates are withheld on products only a couple of months old when it was released with an older OS to begin with. Apple has never with held an update of older hardware if that hardware could run the update. Apple also supports that hardware for 6-7 years. The iPhone is reduced to 3 years however that is 2 years longer than motorola,htc are supporting their andriod phones.

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