Motorola argues that Android fragmentation is a good thing

Motorola argues that Android fragmentation is a good thing
The major criticism leveled by Android's competitors is that the fragmentation of their device market is a hindrance to the operating system. But Motorola Mobility's corporate VP, Christy Wyatt, disagrees. She argues that variation among Android devices is actually one of Android's strengths.

At AnDevCon (Android Developer Conference), Wyatt argued for the benefits of Android fragmentation. Despite the challenges it presents to developers, customers have the luxury of choosing their screen-size, price range, and other features, rather than being railroaded into a one-size-fits-all approach.

But she did admit to some shortcomings: "Managing differentiation against fragmentation is kind of a delicate balance." And if you've ever owned a low-end Android device, then you'll probably agree. It's difficult for developers to make an app that is sufficiently impressive on the top-tier handsets, but still compatible with slower devices with earlier OS builds.

You would be right to doubt Motorola's obviously biased perspective on Android fragmentation. But there's still some truth to it. Isn't it nice to not only be able to choose an OS, but also a manufacturer, feature-set, and price range? While recent rumors of Apple's lower-end iPhone have diminished, Apple has almost certainly considered expanding their lineup to net an even larger customer base.

source: InfoWorld via Yahoo! News



1. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

On fragmentation: it is an essential consequence of Android's policy, and actually of a free market overall. After all, with a controlled market you may get quality control and things may be "safer," but innovation is stifled and people are left with lack of choice, and if things get bad enough, those in control try to tell the people what they want. With a free market, sure, there's going to be some crap, but people are free to ignore it if they will. If it's overpriced crap, then it won't be bought. If it's underpriced crap, it will be bought but then discarded and forgotten in favor of better quality. And the end result is that even the highest prices are competitive with anything a controlled market could produce, as a natural consequence instead of a begrudging move. While I'm not a fan of the low end Android devices Motorola has pushed out (which mainly seem to be leftover designs from the pre Sanjay Jha era) their mid range and higher devices have ranged from adequate to awesome. And their attitude toward their customers, that of being EXTREMELY tolerant to those who mess with their phones, has been a mark of, if not incredible integrity, then at least very smart business.

19. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

No way to say it better. Fragmentation isn't bad. Motorola fans tend to stick to motorola, HTC fans tend to stick to those. They understand and enjoy those style phones, or will go somewhere else until they find one they do. As for iPhone fans, they love their style of phone, and stick to that without caring what Droid phones do anyways, just like Moto users couldn't care less how to operate HTC Sense layouts. It is about taste. Android is attempting to upgrade security which is the largest disadvantage of the fragmentation (in my humble opinion), and as long as each user is aware of that, who can be against choice? More phones, more competition, hopefully more competitive prices and features. (Even iPhone fans want to pay less, don't ya?)

24. Ak unregistered

Possibly the best comment I've ever read on this website. Kudos to you, sir.

26. JeffdaBeat unregistered

It's not bad at all...but it does suck when you're trying to get developers to make apps for your OS. Plus, even if you make it for a certain resolution, you don't have the luxury of being able to be seen by ALL Android users. Just the ones you decide to deliver to. Again, it's not bad thing for end users, but for developers, it can be kind of a nightmare... I still like the WP7 way of doing things (I can't believe I'm saying that). The manufacturers have certain liberties with the phone (adding keyboard, screen size, screen technology, form factor), but the resolution and internals have a standard. The LG Quantum's screen is physically smaller than the Samsung Focus, but they have the same resolution. That gives end users a choice in their phone and give developers a bit of ease in creating apps.

2. Jeromeo

Posts: 135; Member since: Jan 11, 2010

Fragmentation is SOOO great for Motorola that when they announced that most of its T-Mobile devices would not receive updates (as promised) past 1.6 that T-Mobile had to bite the bullet and offer up steep incentives, early upgrades, and apologies to its disgruntled customers.

3. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Hence what I was talking about with its lower end devices. I would be scared to see phones like the Cliq try to run with Flash and everything anyway. By the time the update would've rolled out, the phones would've been completely obsolete anyway.

4. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Good Christ, will you people stop downthumbing every cotton picking thing you possibly disagree with and actually GIVE YOUR OWN OPINIONS FOR A CHANGE?!

5. clevername

Posts: 1436; Member since: Jul 11, 2008

I had to thumb you up to even that out. You made some good points. I can't say I've always agreed with your comments here or that I'm an android fan( leven though I own an N1) but what you said Is mostly correct. Although I disagree with miss Wyatt on her assumption that fragmentation is an advantage, I believe it is a weakness that can be used to create innovation.

8. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

You are a gentleman(woman? Clever names are strangely androgynous). Thank you; you didn't have to thumb me up, I don't care if the red mark of death is next to my name. I just hate that people do that and then don't say anything to give a reason why my comment was so horrible. And I like your attitude that disagreements on some issues don't make us enemies. I don't view fragmentation as a weakness. It's a consequence, but it's up to those who deal with it to turn it into something good or bad. It would only be a true weakness if EVERY Android device sucked and support for the OS was absolutely nonexistent.

27. JeffdaBeat unregistered

I thumbed you up too dude...disagreeing and saying your comment is shit are two different things...hope you stay around...

33. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

Android 2.2 doesnt mean Flash. Flash is only loaded on phones that are compatible with Flash based on specs. Theres a few 2.2 handsets that have no Flash support. Android 2.2 is actually more lightweight than 2.1 or 1.6 and likely would run better than those versions on the older handsets. The fact of the matter is, Motorola, HTC, Samsung, etc. dont care about the old handsets and dont want to waste resources on supporting them, so they wont release OS updates. The only way such a handset will get an OS update if its to avert cries of recalls by purchasers of the devices (like I suspect was the case with 2.2 updates for devices like the Samsung Intercept, a device that seemingly only got the update because of how terrible it was to fix the problems enough to where it wouldnt be recalled or allow upgrades to a new phone early for owners of that phone, which would have been much more expensive).

6. giantgnome

Posts: 67; Member since: Feb 11, 2011

iOS has its own fragmentation issues. Some of the earliest iphones are no longer supported by apple so if you own and still use one of those phones you are SOL for the newer apps. It's not as bad as android but to think it doesn't exist is delusional.

7. djm22

Posts: 27; Member since: Feb 09, 2011

Well it seems like some people forget really quick that these phones are like micro computers and just like computers you have fast ones with everything and ones that are entry level computers that are just fast enough to run somethings and do simple things that you want them to so why is it so hard to understand that they would be any different ?

9. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009


10. BaiGanyo

Posts: 308; Member since: Feb 07, 2011

Just wait till ios growth totally stalls and they launch some mini device on Tracfone etc Then we'll hear all the reasons theirs isn't fragmentation, but a planned diversification and how its good that they dreamed it up, ha ha.

11. Shantanu Paul unregistered

So fragment hardware at different prices. Why fragment different versions of software ? Moto's claim is not justified given that their high-end phones like the Milestone & Defy are still running two-generation old OS. These manufacturers just want people to upgrade as soon as a newer version of software comes up even if their devices are capable enough.

12. Rich unregistered

The fact that so many companies make droid devices is GREAT!!! R u kidding me? i love HTC... but having so many creates a kind of ARMS RACE. pushing each manufacturer to get better and better and create new things... why do u think the iphone has stood still for years? not even putting LTE in the next phone? bc they dont have a competitor (to most people, bc isheep are isheep and will buy the iphone even if its a moto razor with an apple logo on it) but for the other half of the cell phone market, all these companies are competing with each other, making each try to be better than the last.

14. iwebdroidberry7

Posts: 230; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

Um Apple hasn't created an LTE device because..... well just look at the Thunderbolts successful launch.

15. itsthenew

Posts: 13; Member since: Oct 22, 2010

Who cares if the worst devices don't get updates. That's like complaining that the worst free phone doesn't receive upgrades, you get what you pay for! It's literally a 50 dollar price difference in most cases separating the top tier device from a mid level. You get a hardware bump AND a software bump!

16. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

thumbs up for you You buy cheap.... you EXPECT CHEAP Motorola has a bad reputation for slow updates because of the precious time waisted trying to upgrade phones meant to be "feature smartphones" how do you expect a $50 on contract to be as well supported as a $199 one? the biggest issue they have to solve is the timing... it pisses people off that Americans are enjoying the Atrix while Europe(for example) has to wait for Q3 to get it and they get to buy a 6 month old device with the same android version.... just after their competitor has dimmed down their time to shine, many others take less time to have devices on market worldwide...

18. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

You both got the easy solution- don't buy cheap. This isn't the difference of thousands of dollars like appliances or cars. You can get a outstanding device (insert your favorite flavor OS/device here) for what amounts to a few bucks more a month over the life of the contract instead of settling for a throw away toy that you will most likely grow to dislike long before the first year is up when you realize how much more these devices were designed to do. I beg every person I know to go big, or don't buy until you can. Even if you do not use devices to their potential, just the upgrade in speed, sound quality, and response to commands are so much higher in premium devices.

21. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

yep I don't mind people getting these feature smartphones, few friends have them and are happy that they shoot pictures with them, make calls, surf the web a bit, and chat... what tickles me off is that someone who bought a backflip for example wants adobe flash on his device and gives thumbs down because he cant play a game with higher graphics....

17. RudestBuddhist

Posts: 2; Member since: Feb 07, 2011

Part of me likes to see all the different things that the manufacturers do to give their Androids their own distinctive features, but the admin in me hates how bloody hard it is to support devices that are all so different. When setting up mobile support for Android devices to connect to our corporate Groupware services, out of the 5 devices I got for testing, 2 worked. Security policies are non-existant on anything less than 2.2.

34. Owlet

Posts: 450; Member since: Feb 21, 2011

So the admin part in you needs to work for his money :)

20. astrocramp

Posts: 8; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Fragmentation killed Windows Mobile. You had smartphone edition, regular touchscreens, with & without keyboards, etc. A consumer friendly app ecosystem never evolved, since you'd go to the store and find your handset wasn't supported by this or that app. Microsoft also got lazy, and didn't innovate the OS hardly at all. I see a risk that Google will go the same route - get lazy, let the developers and hardware manufacturers deal with whatever garbage needs to be fixed. Android is either going in the shitter, or each vendor will have their own, somewhat incompatible flavors (ie Moto Blur, HTC Sense, etc). Even now on apps you see in their description "doesn't work with Motorola" type of comments. This will only get worse so that eventually you'll have to search by what handset you use.

22. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

feature smartphones should be banned from the android market and given personalized versions of the market with apps tested by the manufacturers, if they want to plague android with cheap phones they should be ready to pay with extra time checking on the original market for compatible apps for their devices and posting them in their own

29. astrocramp

Posts: 8; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Even for my droid 2 global, there's a few apps that don't work because motorola somehow locks down whether or not an app can poll the messages waiting. For instance, an app I downloaded called "Email Widget" specifically to show how many Exchange messages i have waiting, doesn't work on Motorola because they block whatever service the software uses. It's annoying as hell.

30. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

might be related with blur or just bad development but have you tried the sock widgets for that? if im not mistaken they have a widget for that... ill have to put stock a rom to find out

23. itsthenew

Posts: 13; Member since: Oct 22, 2010

Don't purchase Samsung if you want timely updates, and don't purchase the worst smartphone just because it's cheap. Fragmentation is akin to someone saying that their Chevy Aveo should have the aftermarket support as the Chevy Corvette. Some people are happy with Aveo's, and some people are happy with android 1.6. They realize that their phone isn't an Evo or Mytouch 4g, and they either suck it up, or buy a nice phone next time. While the Cliq was out there was the G1 and the HTC Mytouch 3g, both of which were updated on a regular basis or have the modding community to bring them up to 2.3.

28. p0rkguy

Posts: 685; Member since: Nov 23, 2010

The thing is, majority of Android users don't even know what fragmentation is until they've decided to do research on the device. Upon doing research on fragmentation, they're likely to end up in a developer's zone, like XDA, and the fragmentation will cease to exist in over 90% of the devices. The worst thing about fragmentation was that Steve Jobs blew it out of proportion for Android OS and people followed.

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