Google has a lot to look forward this year – a reincarnation of GoogleTV, Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich, the LTE capable Galaxy Nexus, the list goes on and on really. Its clear, the company is moving and shaking. However, they have one big problem in my opinion – they lack consistent, company-wide focus. (see article Google’s Biggest Problem – Focus)
Last time, we took a very quick look at a number of different products that Google extended a great deal of effort to plan, develop and then introduce and then eventually abandoned due to lack of focus. I bring this up for one important reason – Android.
Of all the products that Google has introduced, those that really seem to have staying power, are mostly connected to Android; or Google has found a way to hook them into Android. Those that didn’t have traction either didn’t fit, or weren’t meant for Android.
Android is an interesting animal in that its focused enough to be adopted by major hardware manufacturers and OEM’s. The problem, however is not adoption, it’s the focus and guidelines Google has placed around the use of its mobile OS that concern me the most.
Just about anyone from the hacker down the street to Samsung and HTC can get ahold of the Android source and SDK and cook a version of the OS. They can modify it most anyway they want, with launcher options that are only limited by the developer’s imagination and available hardware.
While this may seem like a great win for open source and end users everywhere, it really isn’t. It’s a huge problem, actually. All of this openness has led to a great deal of version fragmentation. Google has little to no guidelines on what can or cannot be done with the OS. It also allows multiple revisions of the OS to be actively used at the same time, so any device manufacturer or OEM can use FroYo, Gingerbread or Honeycomb on its devices at the same time. It also hasn’t provided any guidelines on upgrades, and moratoriums for any specific versions.
Come back next time, and I’ll bring it all together, explaining exactly WHY Google’s lack of focus is a problem not only for the market, but for end users as well.