Google's new Nexus strategy could help kill the calls of "fragmentation"

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Google's new Nexus strategy could help kill the calls of
The "f-word" is something that we don't like around here. We've tried our best to banish the word "fragmentation" from our lexicon, for various reasons, and it looks to us like Google's new strategy with Nexus devices may be a great way to finally relegate the word to use only by Android haters. Because, that's the real secret here, most users either doesn't care about whatever problem is being blanketed under the silly term "fragmentation", or doesn't really know that they are missing out on an update. Really, there are only three groups that still use the term "fragmentation": tech writers who don't understand how to accurately describe the problems of Android, Android haters, and elite Android users who got stuck with a badly supported device. Google's rumored new strategy to release multiple Nexus devices seems like a great way to take away that last group all together. 

We've talked about it at length before, but to quickly recap: "fragmentation" is just a blanket term used by Apple to attack Android, and is both a terrible descriptor of the actual issues that face Android, and a word that miscategorizes issues as something fundamentally wrong about the platform. In reality, every software platform in existence has issues with software version spread, including iOS. Android doesn't have a "fragmentation" problem, it has problems with manufacturers delaying updates to add custom UIs, with carriers delaying updates for "testing", and with developers not using the SDK tools to design apps properly. Sure, there are ways for Google to "fix" these issues, but most boil down to taking away the openness that makes Android the platform we know and love. 

With that in mind, it is nearly impossible to change the mind of an Android hater, just like it is nearly impossible to change the mind of someone determined to hate Apple. The misuse of the term "fragmentation" by tech writers is usually based on laziness, and they will come around in time. But, actual Android users that use the term? That's a segment that Google can do something about, and the new Nexus strategy seems like the perfect way to do it. 

More Nexus means less complaining

Google's new Nexus strategy could help kill the calls of "fragmentation"
Here's the logic: anyone who owns an Android device complains about "fragmentation" is automatically in the upper echelon of tech users, because that person at least knows enough to realize that they are missing out on cool new features because of a badly supported device. Firstly, just knowing about the issues with updates means that you must follow the mobile tech world to some degree. Having that knowledge there are really only two options: root your device, which not everyone is comfortable doing, or buy a Nexus device. The problem with that second option is that there has only been one option per year. 

So, if you weren't a fan of HTC devices or weren't a T-Mobile user, the Nexus One wasn't an option. If you didn't like Samsung devices, or weren't a T-Mobile or Sprint user (or eventually AT&T), that device also wouldn't really work out. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus finally removed the issue of not having access to a Nexus device based on your carrier (although Verizon users still see delays in updates), but again, if you don't like Samsung devices, or maybe a 4.6" display is too big for you, that single choice wouldn't really help you out at all. 

However, if it turns out to be true (as it seems to be), we are likely going to be seeing new Nexus devices in the next couple months from Samsung, LG, Sony, and HTC, which means users that want to be up-to-date will have a far better chance of having a device that fits their needs. Early reports have the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus being more of a refresh of the device we have had for the past year; the LG Nexus is said to feature wireless charging and possibly a waterproof design; the Sony Nexus is expected to have a higher quality camera (and may not look like the image to the right, which is just concept art); and the HTC Nexus would likely feature Beats Audio, and perhaps even the PlayStation Mobile store. Add those options to the various design philosophies of each manufacturer and the build materials used, and there should be a choice for anyone that wants to be on the newest version of Android at all times... well, except for fans of Motorola. 

Motorola gets left out because of favoritism paranoia

Motorola is the one major manufacturer of Android devices that has yet to even be mentioned as part of the new Nexus plan, even though the company is now owned by Google. A reasonable person would probably expect that the only manufacturer that is owned by Google would not only be on the list of Nexus makers, but would be the one company that could launch new devices with the newest version of Android pre-installed. Unfortunately, that reasonable person would be dead wrong on both accounts. 

Google's new Nexus strategy could help kill the calls of "fragmentation"
Sure, Google could still surprise us all and have a Motorola Nexus ready for the holidays, but Google has never really been a company that is very good at keeping a secret. If there were a Moto Nexus in the works, we probably would know about it. The prevailing theory is that Google is simply paranoid about overreaching with Motorola and being accused of favoritism. If Google is perceived to be favoring its own hardware, other manufacturing partners could get upset and either ditch Android for a competing platform (perhaps HTC would ramp up its Windows Phones) or would push harder with proprietary platforms (Samsung could push harder with bada.) The trouble with this theory is that there really isn't any legitimacy to a favoritism claim, if a Moto Nexus were just one choice along with the Samsung, LG, HTC, and Sony Nexus devices. 

An offshoot of this paranoia could actually be to blame for the other annoying Motorola issue, which is that its new devices coming for the holidays - the RAZR HD, RAZR MAXX HD, and the RAZR M - are all launching with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich installed, rather than the newest Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. The rumor is that each will see the Jelly Bean update soon after launch, but Motorola would have to submit the software updates now in order for Verizon to approve them for the end of the year. 

It's possible that Google really is leaving Motorola to run as a separate company, meaning it will continue to hit the same update delays that most other manufacturers do, but that seems like erring on the side of caution a little too much. As is it almost feels like Google is favoring Samsung rather than its own company. 

Conclusion - it's all about choice

Google needs to stop worrying about potential favoritism claims, and simply offer a choice for everyone on the market. If users want a customized experience, and don't care about delays in updates, manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, and Sony will continue to offer software-differentiated devices with the TouchWiz, Sense, or Timescape UIs. However, the Nexus program should be equally all-encompassing, meaning that all major Android manufacturing partners should be coaxed into releasing at least one Nexus device in order to give true choice to the consumer. Motorola should have a Nexus device, as should ZTE, Huawei, and Asus. 

What has been rumored to come this year looks like it should expand the program a bit, which will go a long way to giving options to everyone out there, but it can be pushed further. Still, maybe even just this expansion alone will help to quiet the incessant calls of "fragmentation" from users within the Android ecosystem, because those users will have less and less reason to not own a Nexus device and avoid the source of their annoyance. It won't help to fix the issues with software updates, but maybe it will help us get a bit more perspective on the problems. 



1. hobble

Posts: 130; Member since: Oct 11, 2011

Came here ready to debunk claims of android fragmentation, but I got bored reading the wall of text.

4. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

actual debunking happened back in March: though, you're not likely to get through that either if reading isn't high on your agenda.

11. hobble

Posts: 130; Member since: Oct 11, 2011

Hey buddy, I'm not heckling. Your article could be more concise. It bored me, sorry. And just an fyi, if an android user is techy enough to understand fragmentation they are techy enough to root and mod their phones. I've never heard an android user gripe about fragmentation, only iphone users trying to slander the system, as you stated in the wall of text. You don't seem to have a lot of faith in the consumers.

57. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Sorry, just meant to warn you that the other article wouldn't be any shorter. This is one of those topics that gets me a bit fired up. I think there is a disconnect between understanding the problems with software updates and being comfortable enough to root. I've been surprised at it a few times, actually. Apple fanboys are certainly the most vocal with the calls of fragmentation, but of course they are also the least likely group to listen to reason and change their minds. The same as trying to convince an Android fanboy that people can actually prefer Apple. I have no faith in fanboys, but I have faith in knowledgeable consumers.

76. someones4

Posts: 627; Member since: Sep 16, 2012

despite what apple fanboys are saying that google is playing catch-up, i can help but to agree on this issue. how odd that google is only implementing this strategy now? why not earlier? i coulb be holding the nexus note right now.

75. Mittal

Posts: 494; Member since: Dec 14, 2011

dude... i am a consumer who could be considered decently informed in mobile tech But i am NOT comfortable with the idea of rooting my device I can safely assume there are many like me out there

81. chrisbo5

Posts: 31; Member since: Jan 26, 2012

right here with you buddy

18. XPERIA-KNIGHT unregistered

Michael.......Great Article man :)


Posts: 4851; Member since: Apr 13, 2012


48. remtothemax

Posts: 260; Member since: May 02, 2012

i've always wanted to know, why is your avatar picture thing always shah rukh khan?


Posts: 4851; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

Sharp. Sexy. Smart. Stylish.

22. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Great article Michael. Anyway, I wish that Google would stop pussy footing around with moto too. At least make them start unlocking the bootloaders. They make good quality devices, I just can't justify buying them with next to no support on them. Lord knows I don't want to wait a year for the next version of android to be available on in.

61. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

Know exactly what you mean. The Motorola Xprt for instance with Sprint, JUST got its Gingerbread update last month, GINGERBREAD, and the Photon STILL hasn't got its ICS update. I know, carriers can delay matters, but with how much this has been delayed in comparison to some other manufacturer updates, I doubt Sprint is at fault nearly as much as Moto is in this case.

73. halcyoncmdr

Posts: 19; Member since: Feb 04, 2009

Motorola announced the Photon would not be getting ICS several days ago.

29. vishu9

Posts: 252; Member since: Mar 03, 2011

Nice article Michael. I liked reading it. What you're saying is absolutely legit. Having Nexus brand pushed out from all manufacturers would be awesome. But having used the S2 for an year now, I really like some of the TouchWiz features. One great example that I constantly use is the brightness control by holding and sliding along the notification bar without pulling it down. It's really intuitive, cool, and easy. But on the other hand I am absolutely hating waiting for Jelly Bean to arrive for the S2 with delays from both Sammy AND the good ol'folks at AT&T. Now only if that gap was bridged somehow, I would be one happy non-whiny gadget freak :)

74. SonyXperiaNexus

Posts: 374; Member since: Oct 01, 2012

Correct me if ive missed something micheal but why would motorola need to be a nexus? The only things a nexus gets is quick updates and better support. wouldnt motorola get quick updates anyway coz its owned by google. Google may even get rid of motoblur or keep it as a customization option turned on by default and may even advise motorola about what hardware would be best for the os. the result is that every motorola device is sort of a nexus even though it doesnt say so. I think thats exactly what google is planning to do and thats why theres no motorola nexus.

83. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

You are correct, Motorola's devices should be considered Nexus technically. But the thing is, people get attracted to the name "Nexus", and even though Motorola's devices should be considered Nexus, people will still be kind of wary. The Nexus name is more of a security blanket of sorts when it comes to Motorola.

77. ZEUS.the.thunder.god unregistered

great article Michael.

85. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Dont mind him....he already proved he's not worth the response. Yet another great article.

15. mozes316

Posts: 144; Member since: Sep 30, 2011

Damn bro, it was like a 7 minute read... lol You can do it!

30. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

You expected a heated topic like this to be 1 paragraph long? You're on a tech site with good authors, you shouldn't expect any less than this, and personally, I would hope there wouldn't be any less than this or it would be a half-baked article and it wouldn't be even worth reading. You should be glad this site has such articulate authors, or else it would be boring. Plus, it takes like a 7th grade reading level to read this in under 10 minutes... It's not that hard.

34. hobble

Posts: 130; Member since: Oct 11, 2011

I don't consider this a heated topic. I found the article to be quite ambiguous and longwinded. Most articles on this site are VERY pro-iOS and that is what I expected. I did read it, mostly, and voiced my opinion. 'MERICA.

55. XPERIA-KNIGHT unregistered

maybe it was but the point got didnt it?

36. Mxyzptlk unregistered

I agree hobble. I hate long walls of text that seem to drag on. Just make your point and follow the 3 b's. I think people are in denial when they say Android has no issues with fragmentation.

44. Mxyzptlk unregistered

I guess 3 people don't believe in the 3 B's

50. hobble

Posts: 130; Member since: Oct 11, 2011

My guess is they don't know what you are talking about. One of the phonearena b's must be butthurt

69. whysoserious

Posts: 318; Member since: Jul 20, 2012

I believe in just one B whenever I see a post from you, bro. It's Bullsh*t.

58. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

I'll never argue that there aren't issues with Android, but I absolutely hate the term fragmentation, because it's such a loaded word that really doesn't have any functional use. Android has problems with slow software updates, but that's not fragmentation.

68. whysoserious

Posts: 318; Member since: Jul 20, 2012

"Really, there are only three groups that still use the term 'fragmentation': tech writers who don't understand how to accurately describe the problems of Android, ANDROID HATERS, and elite Android users who got stuck with a badly supported device." We got one here Michael!

49. blazee

Posts: 414; Member since: Jan 02, 2012

Scrolled down to read some interesting comments, but wasted my time reading this one.

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