Cracks in the Android model showing

Some have accused us of being Apple fan-boys. While that might be true to some degree this does not mean that we hate everyone else. We have stated here before that Blackberry, at least as far as we can tell in terms of a viable app conduit, is effectively dead. This I believe regardless of what people accuse us of. Android however is a different story.

We do develop for the Android platform and see several possibilities for the platform and generally like it from a hardware standpoint. However, there have been some concerns since day one that have recently started to rear their ugly heads. The core issue is this concept of “open”. While open source has been a huge portion of our core business model for years now, it does not detract from the fact that the methodology has some inherent flaws. Put that on my mobile device and I am even more concerned.

Problem one, anyone can post an app. It does not take a genius to figure out that this is not the greatest plan. Truth be told not everyone should post an app. Let’s face it not all developers were created equal. Some should simply not be in the space. Not mention everyone’s moral compass points in the right direction which means that someone, anyone, should be monitoring what exactly is going on. Can’t do that with open source so it is not happening. Check out this post about Android’s first virus. Or maybe this one about its second virus. Needless to say this is just the tip of the iceberg. Technology is frustrating enough without having to install an anti-virus app just to make sure I can make a phone call.

Second seems to now be carriers. Everyone loves the fact that Android is available on every carrier. Great except each one can control what they allow on the phone. Google can’t do anything about it because it is “open”. Good example is Skype’s Android app. Verizon is the only one that has it. As silly as it is for the iPhone to be shackled to AT&T it is no smarter to allow your product to be tied to one phone company. It is simply a dated idea that does nothing but annoy your loyal customers who don’t have Verizon.

Moving past that what about the operating system? Android’s user base is seriously fragmented in this department. Again, not really Google’s vault but again, back to the carrier. Some won’t even allow the upgrade to occur. According to Google only 4.5% of the Android population is using the latest operating system. While a large percentage (59.7%) are using the previous version an unimaginable 35.6% of Android users are still in a 1.x version of the OS. How can developers target this with any degree of predictability? You can use the web’s philosophy of taking the biggest percentage and targeting for that but in the case where a user cannot upgrade OS without buying a new phone or extending their contract 2 years, that is a pretty bad move.

It is a real shame truth be told that we are in this situation. It is yet another example of a great idea (thanks Google) has been turned into a frustrating pile of madness by companies like Verizon and AT&T. While I still remain optimistic a center will be found once the dust settles, for now anyway, it is very frustrating to see Android being used like this. The real looser here is the end user and that is even more frustrating.

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