Android fragmentation is damaging the platform

The problem of Android fragmentation won’t easily be solved. The danger is that the best developers will get tired of dealing with it and wander off to other operating systems. The challenge is inherently difficult because it involves millions of operating systems that already are out the door. Doing something different today is not going to alleviate the problem quickly. At best, new procedures will gradual affect and mediate the problem in the future. Until that happens, fragmentation will be a part of life.

I’m a big fan of Android, not only because I use the platform, but also because I feel that competition in the mobile space has been good. This competition has allowed a technological version of Darwinian evolution to come about that makes the strong platforms even stronger while at the same time weeding out those floundering in the shallow end of the mobile tech gene pool. Android itself is a strong operating system, but the way that the platform is delivered to end-users is critically flawed. Rather than taking the iOS approach where updates are sent to users directly, Google chose to adopt a much more convoluted approach. Whenever Google releases either an update to Android – whether that be a tweaks and bugfixes or critical patches for serious flaws – or a completely a new version of operating system, the code then goes to device OEMs to be customized with their own tweaks and personalizations.

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