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Android's Dirty Little Secret

Discussion in 'Technology' started by Eclectic, Aug 23, 2010.

  1. Eclectic

    Eclectic TRIBE Member

    The dirty little secret about Google Android | ZDNet)


    Despite the ugly truth that Android is enabling the U.S. wireless carriers to exert too much control over the devices and keep the U.S. mobile market in a balkanized state of affairs, Android remains the antithesis of the closed Apple ecosystem that drives the iPhone and so it’s still very attractive to a lot of technologists and business professionals because of it.
  2. acheron

    acheron TRIBE Member

    "Google Android began with the greatest of intentions — freedom, openness, and quality software for all. However, freedom always comes with price, and often results in unintended consequences. With Android, one of the most important of those unintended consequences is now becoming clear as Google gets increasingly pragmatic about the smartphone market and less and less tied to its original ideals.

    Here’s the dirty little secret about Android: After all the work Apple did to get AT&T to relinquish device control for the iPhone and all the great efforts Google made to get the FCC and the U.S. telecoms to agree to open access rules as part of the 700 MHz auction, Android is taking all of those gains and handing the power back to the telecoms.

    That is likely to be the most important and far-reaching development in the U.S. mobile market in 2010. In light of the high ideals that the Android OS was founded upon and the positive movement toward openness that was happening back in 2007-2008, it is an extremely disappointing turn of events.

    When Apple convinced AT&T not to plaster its logo on the iPhone or preload it with a bunch of AT&T bloatware, it was an important first step for smartphones to emerge as independent computers that were no longer crippled by the limitations put on them by the selfish interests of the telecom carriers, who typically wanted to upsell and nickle-dime customers for every extra app and feature on the phone.

    Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said, “iPhone is the first phone where we separated the carrier from the hardware. They worry about the network, while we worry about the phone.”

    Almost for that reason alone, the iPhone was an immediate hit with customers, despite the many limitations of the first generation iPhone when it was released in June 2007.

    Later that year, Google announced the Android mobile operating system and the Open Handset Alliance. Here was Google’s statement made at the time:

    “This alliance shares a common goal of fostering innovation on mobile devices and giving consumers a far better user experience than much of what is available on today’s mobile platforms. By providing developers a new level of openness that enables them to work more collaboratively, Android will accelerate the pace at which new and compelling mobile services are made available to consumers.”

    Then in the spring of 2008, Google pulled off a brilliant coup in the U.S. government’s 700 MHz auction when it bid enough to drive up the price for Verizon and AT&T to lock into the FCC’s open access guidelines (which Google helped form). Verizon had initially fought the open access concept with legal action, but eventually made a 180-degree turnaround and trumpeted its own plans to become an open network.

    However, Verizon’s open network plans have never really materialized. To say the company is dragging its feet would be a massive understatement. The best hope for a popular, unlocked handset on Verizon was Google’s own Nexus One.

    After launching in January 2010, first with access to the T-Mobile network, the Nexus One was planned to arrive on all four of the big U.S. wireless carriers by spring. The phone was sold by Google, unlocked, for roughly $500. Then users could simply buy service (without a contract) from a wireless carrier. That’s the model that has worked so well for consumers in Europe and the Nexus One was supposed to be Google’s major initiative to start moving the U.S. in the same direction.

    Unfortunately, sales of the Nexus One were tepid and customers were frustrated by Google’s poor customer support. By the time spring rolled around, Verizon was still dragging its feet and eventually the Nexus One on Verizon was canceled and replaced with the HTC Incredible, a nice device that nonetheless completely followed the old carrier model.

    By some reports, the Open Handset Alliance is in now shambles. Members such as HTC have gone off and added lots of their own software and customizations to their Android devices without contributing any code back to the Alliance. Motorola and Samsung have begun taking the same approach. The collaborative spirit is gone — if it ever existed at all. And, Google is proving to be a poor shepherd for the wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing that make up the telecoms and the handset makers in the Alliance.

    As a result, we now have a situation where the U.S. telecoms are reconsolidating their power and putting customers at a disadvantage. And, their empowering factor is Android. The carriers and handset makers can do anything they want with it. Unfortunately, that now includes loading lots of their own crapware onto these Android devices, using marketing schemes that confuse buyers (see the Samsung Galaxy S), and nickle-and-diming customers with added fees to run certain apps such as tethering, GPS navigation, and mobile video.

    Just as Google is overwhelming the iPhone with over 20 Android handsets to Apple’s one device, so the army of Android phones that can be carrier-modified is overwhelming the one Apple phone on a single carrier that allows it to stand apart and not play the old carrier-dominated game that resulted in strong handsets weakened by the design, software, and pricing ploys of the telecoms.

    Despite the ugly truth that Android is enabling the U.S. wireless carriers to exert too much control over the devices and keep the U.S. mobile market in a balkanized state of affairs, Android remains the antithesis of the closed Apple ecosystem that drives the iPhone and so it’s still very attractive to a lot of technologists and business professionals because of it.

    But, the consequence of not putting any walls around your product is that both the good guys and the bad guys can do anything they want with it. And for Android, that means that it’s being manipulated, modified, and maimed by companies that care more about preserving their old business models than empowering people with the next great wave of computing devices."
  3. Lil'Timmy

    Lil'Timmy TRIBE Promoter

    Where's Jai, I need a defense here
  4. glych t.anomaly

    glych t.anomaly TRIBE Member


    Android is accelerating at a ridiculous rate. its ' hubris ' or its ' fatal flaw ' exists true, but thats what happens when you have an open platform.

    now we see the customizations to the stock android OS that have come out, from the Sense UI, to MOTOBLUR & NINJABLUR, and a myriad in between, and stemming from that is a difference in end user experiences.

    but the fact remains, that those options exist. Rather than be limited to one product, and one carrier, and believe me when i Say, AT&T makes Rogers look like a walk in the park when it comes to service and coverage areas.

    so while yes to a degree, it has given some power back to the telecom providers etc, there has been strong movement and push, especially from the consumer base to make the newer version of the Android OS available all Android users, and not just those that buy the newest and best hardware.

    i believe by the end of this year or something, Android OS 2.1 will be rolled out to ALL android devices on all carriers in the US, as a large move to get rid of fragmentation, now this will not solve the customization of the different Telecoms and Hardware providers, but it will lend strongly to overall user satisfaction and retention.

    now alot of the ' bloatware etc ' can be avoided by doing research on what device you buy , and where you buy it, rooting your devices as well, can get rid of those pesky annoyances as well, and tons of iphone users do this via Jailbreaking just so they can get a hint of what its like to have a open platform.

    the main reason i bought a Nexus One, and why ALOT of users are even complaining that they cannot purchase them anymore is because it doesnt have all the shit the providers throw on, and it doesnt have anything but the Stock UI, and its clean and fast, and IMO the best experience i have had on a device to date.

    i dont know what i will do with when i upgrade, i do know for sure i will Root it, and get the same user experience as i am now, and for people that want that, then it will always be available.

    an informed consumer that isnt afraid of a little hard work will never have to deal with the shit the Telecoms and the Hardware Manufacturers serve up to you, and in Canada, we have it ALOT better than in the states.

    regardless of whether you buy Android ready devices, or an iphone, BB, etc, do the research to make sure you are getting what you want, and what it will take to get what you want if its not offered up.

    but my device will easily last me a couple of years, its unlocked, and i couldnt be happier :).

    Last edited: Aug 24, 2010
  5. Lil'Timmy

    Lil'Timmy TRIBE Promoter

    I agree w/ Jai. I'm an iphone user and as I point out to all the people who say "Oh Tim, you're just getting it because it's cool!" Well yes it is cool, but I guarantee that I use the phone portion a total of 10% of my time. I watch movies, listen to music, figure out my calorie intake, play a few games, do banking, check facebook, find out where I'm going via GPS...a myriad of things. It all depends on what you want in a device. Do your research. I know BB's can do all of that, and I'm I like the HTC series...why did I choose Apple? I go with what I know. That simple. It easy to sync, it's easy to get applications I need. I also agree with Jailbreaking. Being able to customize your phone the way you'd like it, I feel, is important.
  6. KodiaK

    KodiaK TRIBE Member

    how high were you when you wrote that essay glitch?
  7. dstarr

    dstarr TRIBE Member

    I am def keeping my eye on Android and it's the fact that I might not be able to get the most recent version of it that is holding me back, especially when I hear all these great things about 2.2 and what is coming down next, which I hear is only in a few months.

    Aren't there still a bunch of devices being sold with 1.6 on them?
  8. glych t.anomaly

    glych t.anomaly TRIBE Member

    mildly :)


  9. Dialog

    Dialog TRIBE Member

    Not only is the Android platform not fragmented, but that non-existent fragmentation is good for the platform.
  10. glych t.anomaly

    glych t.anomaly TRIBE Member

    Current Distribution

    The following table is based on the number of Android devices that have accessed Android Market within a 14-day period ending on the data collection date noted below.

    As you can see, 2.1 is on 60 % of devices , and another almost 5% have 2.2.

    1.5 and 1.6 barely make up 36% of the market, and im willing to bet dollars to donuts, the amount of iphones world wide using ver 3 and lower is EASILY 35%.

    so as i said up there, they are making the moves to lessen the fragmentation, but are still dependent on the Device Manufacturers to accommodate and push out the newest versions.

    which is inherent with open source platforms, where as Apple, with no open OS, total lockdown on hardware, and apparently unmitigated amazing godlike control, CHOSE to not include probably one of the largest % of their device hardware sold over the last 2.5 years.( fully functioning iOS4 for 3g users, without experience quality going way down.)

    but i guess logic is lost on some.

    Last edited: Aug 25, 2010
  11. Dialog

    Dialog TRIBE Member

    We're not talking about the iPhone here, we're talking about Android. At what point did I mention the iPhone regarding Android platform fragmentation? Android is the subject.

    '...barely 36%'. I don't think over a third of anything can logically be dismissed, but that appears to be your logic. What would you tell all those 1.5 & 1.6 owners who are going to see 2.2 and 3 goodness and wonder why their shining paragon of choice and upgradability ...doesn't?

    Doesn't Android's spiralling popularity and sales mean -at least- 1.6 devices are still being sold?

    a.k.a. Android's achilles heel

    Jailbreaking? It's so popular it even exists on Android!

    Sometimes your logic is pretty easy to lose
  12. glych t.anomaly

    glych t.anomaly TRIBE Member

    wow if even simple comparison analysis is hard for you thats sad, i mentioned the iphone as that is the device that set the bar, but that was back then.

    Android is activating more devices daily. Fragmentation is something that happens to ALL companies, as we have seen with even the iphone.

    the only companies releasing hardware with 1.6 on them are behind the times and thats there choice, and those devices are not whats making them money.

    The MAJORITY of devices today come with 2.1 on them, with the intent of 2.2 being rolled out in the future.

    A Achilles Heel is something that cripples you, fragmentation hasnt crippled Android or it wouldnt be activating 200 000 devices a day, if anything it has shown google they need to with the manufacturers push out the updated versions of their OS, as quickly as possible, but it ultimately comes down to the consumer.

    if you are a fucking retard and dont do research and go out and buy a device with outdated software, you deserve everything you get. period.

  13. oddmyth

    oddmyth TRIBE Member

    Android was activating more devices daily. We haven't seen figures since the iphone 4 launch.

    Actually I believe all the majors still have handsets in the marketplace (albeit older models) that still have sub 2.0 releases on them. Moreover more low end handsets are purchased then high end handsets by a large margin, so your comment is false - they are what's making them money.

    and what about when 2.3 comes out or 3.0? The problem is the raw distribution network is not capable of delivering the current OS in a decent time frame. I'll wait to see how quickly those networks can start turning around a decent update before I give anyone my dollars for Android.

    Fragmentation has stunted Android growth. Unfortunately its a mystery as to how much it has stunted its growth as we will never know how well it could have launched with proper updates and everyone clamoring about the awesomeness of 2.2 instead of just those who decided to root their devices or better yet have to wait to replace their android phone with one that will actually run 2.2.
  14. glych t.anomaly

    glych t.anomaly TRIBE Member

    i completely agree, and if what Jobs said earlier in the week, then i would say they are pretty much even , regardless of whether Apple and Google can agree.

    i would disagree with you there, the amount of new hardware boasting 2.1 and up, is one of the major pushers for whats being offered out there, and many devices sporting 2.1 are going up to 2.2 or will be very shortly, the usage stats for the version of android shows that 1.5 and 1.6 are in serious decline, and as i said above, they are moving towards making the newest versions available as fast as they can, but they could improve it.

    thats fair, you are easily a very informed consumer, to expect anything less from you would be foolish.

    in the states i would say that its doing much better than globally, and while yes we will never know how well it would have done without the fragmentation, its amazing to see how well its doing even with the existing issues.



    Android’s Mobile Web Consumption Share In The US Is Surging, iOS Share Dropping

  15. oddmyth

    oddmyth TRIBE Member

    Jai you and I both know that they can't move to the newer versions fast enough. By the time phones outside of the US get Froyo, Eclair will be out. With the rate of launch of new Android phones, there will be major schisms in the applicable vendor implementations, possibly even between versions of the UI they paste on top of Android betwixt generations of the same phone.

    Regardless its great to see smart phone competition driving innovation in the field however I think that all Google has done is given the vendors a malleable platform that they can control but is still really lacking the things that make iOS such a great platform - consistency.

    I think we read sooo many tech forums that we tend to think that all smartphone users are like us: saavy, interested and willing to blow up our phones if it means we can squeeze more out of them. The truth is the opposite, we are the minority of smartphone users. Android is still designed with the geek in mind. iOS is designed for the majority.

    A little off topic but it goes to show how dedicated Jobs is to the majority. He refused to have a task manager in iOS. He eventually had to, but he never wanted one. The reason being once you have a task manager, then you are performing computer management instead of computer use. The majority of people don't want to manage their computers, they simply want to use one. In Android the thinking is the opposite, there's every tool you could ever want to manage your computer/phone. Its more of a computer than an appliance. Most people want appliance phones, not computer phones.
  16. glych t.anomaly

    glych t.anomaly TRIBE Member

    i agree with you that Android is designed for as you said, someone that views their device like a computer they can manage, while the iOS user do appreciate the fact that they management is automated, but the interesting trend is the speed in which it seems to be getting ' geeks ' to buy them, and maybe some even not so geeky people.

    and Jobs dedication to keeping the user experience consistent, and ultimately fairly effortless , is pretty insane, and they wouldnt be the best selling hand held device ever if that wasnt the case.

    i do hope that future OS releases and hardware releases for both continue to do really well, because without it, then i believe the consumer is then missing out.


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