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Eric Schmidt: Android Is All About Differentiation, Not Fragmentation

Google’s Eric Schmidt stopped by CES and offered another classic comment that is sure to spark up some interesting conversations for the next couple of days. When asked for the billionth time if Android has a fragmentation problem, Schmidt used the word “differentiation” to describe the platform instead:

“Differentiation is positive, fragmentation is negative,” Schmidt said during an appearance here at the Consumer Electronics Show. “Differentiation means that you have a choice and the people who are making the phones, they’re going to compete on their view of innovation, and they’re going to try and convince you that theirs is better than somebody else.”

He continued:

“We absolutely allow [manufacturers] to add or change the user interface as long as they don’t break the apps. We see this as a plus; [it] gives you far more choices.”

The fragmentation argument is beyond played out, so I’ll admit that I actually like this take on Android. While most of us are not interested in skins or custom UIs, they do make one phone different from another. And since so many manufacturers produce Android handsets these days, skins are by no means going away any time soon. We just need to see OEMs spend more time putting in polish and adding useful features that would make them somewhat desirable.

Your thoughts? Buying Schmidt’s “differentiation” argument?

Via:  PCMag

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  • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

    Differentiation is giving the consumer many different types of cars to buy.  They all look different and have different features, but in the end they all work.  Fragmentation in the Android world is taking a base product that works and feels great and breaking it so it no longer works as it should.

  • Anonymous

    To me Android is about choice. I have no problem with “skins” on devices. I choose a phone not just on specs, but a # of features. The UI they install on their devices are meant to enhance the user experience. In most cases they do, however it would be nice to allow people the choice of running a custom ROM, if they choose. I personally don’t care to run someone else’s “skin” either and usually just run what came stock on the phone….again, my choice. 

  • Pirroav

    I would buy it more if, despite different manufacturers, all systems received new OS upgrades equally… if they made a serious effort to get all of the phones that are less than 18 months old get the ICS, i would believe him more.

  • Anonymous

    I just don’t think skinning itself offers valuable differentiation. It might look good, but it’s not always offering some new level of feature that causes the phone to rise above stock Android. And it’s not like the average consumer is thinking about HTC Android versus Motorola Android—they just know it’s Android. The in-store reps might toss out the Touch Wiz or Sense name, but they sell it as a pretty look rather than a value-added feature, in my experience. The manufacturers need to add more rich features if they want differentiation. Motorola accomplished this with their latest suite of apps by offering some levels of task automation, data access, and fitness services. That seems to add tangible value to the phone when compared to just skins alone. HTC almost did this with their Flyer tablet, but too bad they released it with a non-tablet OS, most likely due to their desire to implement the sense skin. To some extent, they negated a portion of the value-add differentiation in their tablet; most likely in order to implement a skin that doesn’t add much value.

    Sense and Blur alone don’t really do much in terms of differentiation for me. At best, the skin as a branding tool. While branding can be a component of differentiation—I can look at an HTC interface and know right away that it’s an HTC phone—the same can be accomplished through a logo. Motorola did the right thing by trying to get rid of the Blur name. It’s not a value-add feature, it’s just an appearance. While I personally find Blur to somewhat aid the average user in the ease of use department, I don’t see it so groundbreaking that it adds additional value. I haven’t used Sense in ages, so I can only assume it’s the same. Touch Wiz has a couple neat features, but it would seem to me that most of these could be easily added to the stock skin just the same.

  • http://twitter.com/eatmode4life Ray Mendoza

    Apple is tied to the iPhone. Pure Android is tied to the Nexus line. After that, it appears like the manufacturers get the code at the same time as the Devs do.

    While I agree, I prefer a pure version of Android, not too many Devs are making their own custom skin. They usually take the stock source and enhance it with little features keeping the overall look of it the same. This is fantastic if you really like to customize your phone.

    However, there are people out there who like Sense, TouchWiz and MotoBlur. The main thing is that the manufacturers are putting all their efforts into making 18 million phones a year rather than focusing on a few High End, a few mid-range and a few low end phones. After simplifying their line, they can focus on faster software rollouts because they have fewer phones to support making their customer’s experience fantastic.

    Oh and carrier bloatware. Whether it is running or not, it needs to go away. No need for My Backup Assistant if you use your gmail account to backup your contacts. No need for VZW Videos, music or apps because the Android Market has it. Dont try to leech every dollar from your customers. Make your network solid and offer better data and voice rates than anyone else and the customers will come.

    As much as I dont care for apple and their products, they are doing quite a bit right when it comes to simplifying what they have and maximizing profit. 

    Plus the ability to tell the carrier to F-Off when it comes to bloatware. What if HTC, Samsung, and Motorola decided to demand the same thing or they pull their devices? What would Verizon have? A good network for Casio, Pantech and LG phones. Not looking so good for new subscribers.