Google's plan to end fragmentation reportedly nixed by Android handset manufacturers

Google's plan to end fragmentation reportedly nixed by Android handset manufacturers
According to a report published on Sunday, manufacturers of Android handsets wouldn't get aboard Google's plan to end the so-called "fragmentation" of the Android line. Google wanted to eliminate the stock Android Nexus and Google Play edition devices, and replace them with the Android Silver handsets and tablets.

The Android Silver program would have allowed the manufacturers to offer stock Android devices at carrier stores, with support from Google. Developers would be able to get away with building just one version of an app, instead of having to provide multiple versions for different Android builds. But the manufacturers were not terribly keen on sharing branding, and offering hardware that would employ more-restrictive software.

The Nexus program is not ending. That was made clear by a number of Google executives such as its vice president of engineering Hiroshi Lockheimer, and Dave Burke, who is the head of the Nexus program. In addition, Motorola has produced a beast of a device for the Nexus 6. That doesn't feel like a brand that is about to be extinct.

Will Google ever get the chance to implement its Android Silver plan? Let's just say that for now, the body is still warm although there might not be much life left in the ol' boy.

source: Recode via BGR

FEATURED VIDEO

63 Comments

1. QWIKSTRIKE

Posts: 1459; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

Why would MFG's want to end fragmentation? From the MFG's standpoint; if the phone sales slows then just offer a newer phone to increase sales, rather than make updates that will impede sales. They have not gotten the concept that new ground breaking technology will get most would be buyers ready for the next best thing. Nooooo....they think that not upgrading software on older handsets is the answer to boosting new sales. Ergo why I do admire the pure Nexus experience. The cell phone carriers think the same way when they corroborate with handset MFG's. This latter causes the consumer to look at another handset maker for the next greatest thing when minor hardware updates are covered with a new software overlay.

6. draconic1991

Posts: 200; Member since: Apr 27, 2012

Its still better to keep the Nexus program anyway...you get a great phone at a subsidised price (little less of that now but still..) and also helps keep away the monopoly...every time a company needs a little support the nexus line has done that to quite an extent in my opinion....for example galaxy nexus for samsung then the lg nexus 4 and 5 for lg and hoping the 6 for motorola nd 9 for htc...(htc just needs to price its phones more competitively to succeed im my opinion anyway)

53. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2359; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I think in this case it wasn't so much about updating all of their older devices to the newer Android builds (I mean we've seen some manufacturers really support some of their older devices, but in the US you don't get to see updates as readily because of carriers) but rather this is about the manufacturers wanting to keep their custom skins and applications that go on top of Android. As much as I love the stock Android UI experience, I do like that there is some differentiation among the manufacturers with each trying to provide a better experience for their customers. I also think the manufacturers were thinking of how this would look a lot like Windows Phone where each manufacturer offers the same software experience and can only change the hardware features. At that point, there's only so many changes you can do to hardware that will set you apart from the competition.

60. cezarepc

Posts: 718; Member since: Nov 23, 2012

Worth pointing out that for Windows Phone manufacturers actually can introduce both hardware (PureView optics, Beats amp) and software (Here Maps) but I get your point. I agree with you on allowing manufacturers and differentiation. Google has to understand that the current set up is actually good for the manufacturers. If they erase the manufacturer's ability to manipulate the user experience it's going to be a price battle. Lower prices may look good in short term but it will kill innovation in the log run.

4. Phonedingo

Posts: 399; Member since: Aug 16, 2014

Great. I love the diversity of android.

5. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

The Android handset makers are wise to protect their business. Offering one version of Android would largely eliminate switching barriers and costs. There would be far less product differentiation, far less diversity, far less innovation. For example, what would make Samsung special? Nothing, really, other than removable battery, SD card, physical keys, and AMOLED. And with Google completely in charge of the Android OS, the physical key support would be in danger, the SD card would be in danger, perhaps even the removable battery. Or if Samsung made a breakthrough in AMOLED color space management, they would have to petition Google to add this to the OS. And then everyone else would get it as well, providing a negative incentive for Samsung to innovate in the first place. Android manufacturers are slowly coming to grips with the fact that they really need a platform that is largely independent of Google. As it is now, Android is engineered primarily for Google's benefit, not the greatest good of the Android community (handset makers, users, developers, etc.)

12. vincelongman

Posts: 5692; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

True, OEM versions of Android are a great source of innovation People like to hate on TouchWiz, but they would still have to admit TouchWiz has inspired many new features on Lollipop and iOS 8, and still has more features that will be in future builds of Android and iOS

15. sgodsell

Posts: 7365; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

You basically spelled out why other OEMS are not going with WP. This is why Android has taken off so much. The OEMS can put their own twist on the Android OS. With WP, and iOS you can't change a thing. Well Apple controls everything. Microsoft wants to look like Android when it comes to customization, but its not even close.

26. Liveitup

Posts: 1798; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

Many OEMs are going with WP im not sure why you think they are not WP has over 20 OEMs and even some OEMs homescreens are basically clones of WP UI, the problem with Android trying to follow WP way of doing things is that from the get go Android was about Skins , being diverse etc. Now they want to restrict the OS to get closer to the one experience mantra, they have been making strides to do so but unlike WP OEMs won't let Google do so, they can't change things OEMs have been doing for years and things that many Android fans enjoy. WP is becoming more flexible by the day even though its overseen by MS for various OEMs, its is as flexible as stock if not more so. OEMs has jump on to WP band wagon because they know what they signed up for, they rebel against Android because Android wants to do things differently than what it was originally meant for, two platforms with different business model now Android wants to adopt Windows model. You got to give Android credit though they are a company to adopt what they think will be the future whether UI design or business model, the problem now however is that OEMs wont let them. Advantage of Windows model is this in the near future for eg. Windows 10 is an attempt to realize the dream of “write once, run anywhere” for Windows development. It promises the ability to write software that will magically morph to fit any phone, tablet, desktop, or other device. You won’t have to pick a way to interact with software, which was one of Windows 8’s fatal flaws even though stand alone its a great OS. Instead, Windows 10 will pick the best software experience for your device. Rather than creating distinct mobile and desktop environments that work more seamlessly together—the Continuity features in OS X Yosemite, for example—Microsoft is building a multi-device platform. A single OS that can run flawlessly on the various devices we use. Its something that has not been done before and can potentially break that iOS Android duopoly. One adaptive OS.

44. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

"Windows 10 ... promises the ability to write software that will magically morph to fit any phone, tablet, desktop, or other device." Lol... maybe you better cut back on Microsoft's "magical" kool aid.

54. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Actually that is the goal. The goal is to write once, and the software side, meaning windows. Pics the resolution, style, and code base for where it runs, be it a phone or pc. windows 8 almost does this, however there is still things very peticular to win8 phones that are lacking, like certain ui calls etc, and device calls, since there is no mouse etc. But in the end, win8.1 as it is, is nearly 85-95% shared code. Even the development of a universal app is now side by side. You have the pc code, then the phone code, and below it, shared resources. In the shared portion, that is where code and resources will run on both phone and pc without any modification. If win10 can handle bad code (like this sites reply/upvote system, whose coders cannot even be bothered to put 3 lines or so of code to detect a mouse, LAZY PA), MS idea is that it, the software, will realize the mistake and fix it. If this works, or if people have to 'rewrite' code is a different story. In the end, win10 is set to make the idea, write once, run anywhere.

7. VyktorJonas

Posts: 40; Member since: Mar 26, 2014

who cares about fragmentation really? Only ignorant iSheeps if the device can't run a newer version of android, it can't, but Play Services, webview and almost all of the other system apps are or will be on the playstore getting updated within days to all devices so all phones remain updated and with recent security fixes, something iPhones don't have

55. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

something iPhone doesn't have? Sorry a playstore 'fix' doesn't trickle down like you think it does. There is a reason 4.2 and 4.1 were subject to a bug/security flaw, while 'chrome' and 4.3+ was not. Point being even though 4.1 was on the updated playstore, they did not receive the fix, unless using 'chrome'. Android has no where near the update schedule or capability that iPhone has. Do you honestly think, iPhone cannot instantly update appstore and other various apps in one big swoop? As it is, their last 4 generations of phones are getting a single update in record time (bugs aside), while android oems/carriers are fighting to even get on kitkat much less Android L.

10. thachlel

Posts: 75; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

I hope android fix the problem! I Left android just for that! I do not want to buy a high end android device and later it gives me a hard time to update my device! F tat! Like samsung! I've been used their S series from s1 s2 s3 s4 note2 and stopped right there! Every devices was stopped update after a yr or so and when I updated my devices, I begged for it! Never gotten good updates after several tries or helps from website.

17. VyktorJonas

Posts: 40; Member since: Mar 26, 2014

you started wrong by buying a Samsung device

30. DnB925Art

Posts: 1168; Member since: May 23, 2013

I call BS. The Note 2 and S4 still receive updates up until now. They currently are on 4.4. It did not end 1 year after release.

56. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Depends on carrier, right now some carriers have still not pushed 4.4 to the note 2. And even then it was nowhere near, 'immediate'.

11. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

Manufacturers don't want to end fragmentation because they a) don't want to spend resources updating old devices, and b) want people to buy new devices with newer software.

14. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

I have often said that it is not Android that is "Fragmented." It is the OEMs of many handsets that control when an update to Android will take place. The basic OS is the same across the board. It is the software within the different handset companies controlling different UI overlays. To blame Android directly would be skewed temperment. Apple's OS is more controlled due to only being implemented on Apple hardware. It doesn't make it less "Fragmented." Hence why I have written and preached that the word "Fragmentation" is often misused when comparing Apple Vs Android. Android is a very viable OS on Nexus handsets. John B.

18. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

All fine and good, but it's not THAT you have often said it that matters, but WHAT you have often said.

16. hmd74

Posts: 540; Member since: Jan 31, 2013

What is fragmentation?! ;)

19. dimas

Posts: 3363; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

It is the process used to create vinegar and wine by adding yeast. Trust me, I am a search engine.

20. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

OEM's should just pull some Apple psychological tricks. For example, most update skins dont really change that much. Most cases the update from 4.0 ics to 4.1 jb didn't really do s**t for sense, touchwiz, timescape, or whatever the LG skin is called. So Google should just remove the Android 4.4.4 listing in the about phone section. And just list sense 6.0, touchwiz 6.0, timescape 6.0 etc. So every time Google has an update, each OEM can release a sense 6.1 or touchwiz 6.1 and then everyone can brag about updates like Apple does. Boom done

31. g2a5b0e unregistered

LMAO. It's so true though. 99% of the population would have no idea. +1

21. Tuxedo

Posts: 356; Member since: Mar 19, 2013

Sucks for Android and Google. This clusterf0*k we currently have is so inefficient from a developer's point of view and it all results in poor end user support. OEM UI overlays should make use of a common theming interface. I'll stick with Nexus.

22. MorePhonesThanNeeded

Posts: 645; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

Google doesn't have to do anything, just keep making Android better and better. Let the OEM's do what they want to get folks to come try out their wares. Google would benefit if they had a handset manufacturer under their belt to put out kick ass devices that make OEM's take note and for the public to use a bloat free device. Let the public drive the OEM's direction, OEM's tend to build out some pretty good additions to Android. What would be great is if at purchase you could have your choice of OEM Android or Google Vanilla Android then that would be golden. I think Google should enforce user end choice on which version of the OS you want to use on the phone, since it's your device. OEM get to make their wares how they want and Google gets more folks to experience the crisp Android experience no bells or whistles. Although I love Motorolas' additions, they are functional and are bloated rubbish like most of Touchwiz and Sense. For every 1 cool thing in Touchwiz there you can find 5 irrelevant and useless things added that eat up RAM and slow the phone down requiring the phone to come with software to manually purge the RAM.

23. sharrufa3

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

I just want a Sony flagship running stock android with fast updates.

24. Mxyzptlk unregistered

And they said fragmentation didn't exist

36. meanestgenius

Posts: 22043; Member since: May 28, 2014

Fragmentation exists on every platform, including iOS.

37. g2a5b0e unregistered

Don't waste your time, MG. You & I both know that his brain is a little too basic to understand this fact.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.