Android’s ‘clopen’ ecosystem is hurting consumers and increasing fragmentation

During every event and every keynote, Google touts its Android operating system’s openness and explains that with no limitations, consumer’s benefit. While Android is more open than its competitors, it is closed compared to other open-source software such as Linux. Google makes the Android operating system source code available for any company or individual to use and customize to their liking. However, Google’s mobile suite — Gmail, the Android Market, Google Maps and more — is closed sourced and not available to everyone, leading to consumer confusion when buying a no-Market Android device. Additionally, due to custom skins and fragmentation, both carriers and manufactures are damaging the Google and Android names, MarketingLand‘s Danny Sullivan writes. Almost every manufacturer includes a custom user-interface on their devices in order to stand apart from its competitors. However, these same skins that are meant to enhance a user’s experience are causing fragmentation and leaving customers with outdated devices. Read on for more.

Google recently released Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and while various manufactures have hinted towards an update, only one device has it, and you can probably guess which smartphone… Google’s flagship Galaxy Nexus. Newer devices such as the HTC Rezound, DROID RAZR and DROID Bionic will also see the update at some point this year. However, devices such as the LG Revolution, which has only been on the market for 7 months will most likely never see another system update. The device is completely capable of running Ice Cream Sandwich and the only thing keeping it on Android 2.3 is LG and Verizon. The Open Handset Alliance that includes LG, HTC, Motorola, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and AT&T, among others, has pledged with Google to end fragmentation and offer the latest Android operating system for 18 months after a devices release date, however we have yet to see any action from this promise. It’s time for Google to take action and rescue its users from device limbo or people will be forced to buy a new smartphone every few months to enjoy the latest Android features.

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