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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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  • Anonymous

    Totally agree!

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • As long as you dont break the apps? are you kidding me? there are a massive amount of “android” apps i cannot use do to “differentation”…get over yourself. its massive FRAGMENTATION! …..”don’t church it up kid”….its dirt! lol.

  • Anonymous

    Differentiation (positive) causes fragmentation (negative).  So they come out even…so its ok right?

  • PSU_DI

    I don’t care if a OEM wants to provide a different look for there phones let them skin away, but the fragmentation issue, is about phone OS updates.  This is really broken and needs to be addressed head on.  Carriers and OEMs all need to upgrade the OS to the latest Google code at the same time regardless of what skin they use.  Android needs a more cohesive upgrade scheme.  It’s ridiculous that even though Android 4.0 is released and has been for a few months now that OEMs are still releasing phones on gingerbread/tablets on honeycomb and then say that it is ICS compatable and that it is coming in a few months. If history is right these phones will get the update 6-9 months after customers start to buy them.  Google needs to set some ground rules, say OEMs must being using the latest OS version on any new phones that are release after 60 days of the source code being released other wise they can’t be google branded or they have no market access.  Google could put pressure on the OEMs and carriers but hasn’t.  Google please face the issue head on and stop side stepping the true issue here. A general consumer doesn’t care if the phone has a skin or not, but they do care about having the latest features and updates.  Choice is good but not if it means handicapping the update process.

    • QtDL

      ^ What this guy said. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Agreed.  I would like to add that Google needs to create some rules regarding the number of updates a new phone should receive.  I should be able to buy a phone and have some understanding as to how long I can expect support, barring some major hardware requirement change or the phone completely tanking in the market. 

  • if I had to pick a skin it would be touchwiz. htc sense to me is boring.

  • Rich

    Well, what do you do when Google says its the manufactures responsibility to fix and maintain all apps because they choose to have a skin, then an apps breaks and they won’t help you to fix it? they flip-flop you back and forth from VZW to HTC and back… 

  • That’s why I am so pessimistic on Moto making stock Android phone after Google completes its acquisition. Contrary to people who think Google execs just don’t want to admit that there’s a fragmentation problem, I think they actually BELIEVE there’s none.

  • Anonymous
  • Kat Selezneva

    I like that Android isn’t fastened to a specific device, like it is with iOS and iPhones.  In 2011, the number of Android smartphones rose to a record 194 percent. 
    2011 results for the mobile development world http://k-selezneva.blogspot.com/2012/01/2011-results-for-mobile-development.html

  • 12HLKKFJBEA I like it very much!

  • You’ve got to give it to Schmidt for his argument. I personally think that everyone’s view on this is pretty skewed on this, so here’s my two cents:

    I bought by first smartphone in March, the HTC Thunderbolt. I loved it, I still think its the best of the initially available devices (the Charge looks like a damn police badge, worse RAM on a device running an even worse skin, LG Revolution………..yeah) and has a “unique” UI interface with HTC Sense.

    In September I was able to upgrade to the Bionic, which I lavished for only a short 3 months. Blur had become significantly better, but it was apparent that the device had been kicked to the curb, because of its terrible screen (WORSE SCREEN EVER) and impending announcement of the Droid Razr, its faster, stronger and (ever so slightly) better brother.

    Now I hold the Galaxy Nexus, which is by far, the best android device I have had, tied for the best overall android device with the Nexus S. But its symptomatic of the issue, which is that the Nexus devices are by far the best, because they are run the way Google envisioned Android running.

    I won’t talk G1 because that was the beginning, and I think late 2009 early 2010 is when Android exploded.

    Motorola drops the OG Droid in Fall 2009. Everyone LOVES it. Wonderful device, and guess what? NOT SKINNED! Isn’t it amazing? Then HTC drops the Nexus One, and again, Android is floored by it. Everyone except Sprint and Verizon would get the Nexus One, both CDMA companies getting their own different devices (Inc and Evo). But nothing like the unskinned Android of Nexus One.

    Samsung, drops the Epic, Fascinate, Captivate and Vibrant, a full 7-9 months after the Nexus One drops, and has nearly the identical overall specs, one could argue the individual merits, but the point of the matter is that these devices have similar specs to the Nexus One, BUT are forced to run skinned software because of the individual manufacturer’s differentiating. Motorola drops the X and the Droid 2, both skinned with Moto Blur. 

    2011, Nexus S comes out with that BEAUTIFUL SAMOLED screen, and Gingerbread. And this is where the problem really begins to surface. Manufacturer’s have license to deal with Android how they wanted. Sense, Blur, Touchwiz and LG all have their different takes, and you have to respect that. WHAT IS NOT RESPECTABLE, is the quality of the hardware, not being able to handle newer software. And that, is SOLELY based on the manufacturers.

    So either you have the current situation: Where everyone gets to do what they want, and buyers are left with the consequences of their choices.

    You get the Expensive situation: Where companies inflate their prices more so than now to offset having different hardware to accommodate updates in software.

    Or you get the “Dark Side”: Where Android becomes a perversion of what it wanted to be, where Google creates 3 Nexus every so often: One that works for the GSM/AWS/AT&T/T-MO, one for Sprint and one for Verizon, and they have their own merits, but none of the other phones are available. 

    We can’t have it all ways. I personally think that turning on and off skins is the best solution, but it doesn’t help the bootloader situation and further complicates things because of now the device has to be ready to work on both skinned and unskinned.

    Its a tough situation, but I’d rather have the “differentiation” outlook than the Apple outlook. 

    • Soulbladesam

      Do like, and agree.  Buy a phone for the hardware, not the software.  Support the pirates and the hackers, support your indie devs, they’re the ones who are fighting for you, but can’t make the phones.  Get a phone that will be supported by the community, and you have a phone worth your money.

      As far as the skin / unskin “button” / “option” / etc, I can’t think of any way to implement it other than on a rom based switching system.  Of which would require root (which manufac/providers do NOT want) and a simplified system for something that in of itself can be complicated enough as it is with having full support on it, or for manufacs to commission indie devs to develop their skin as an acceptable alternative, since why give preference to one without the other?  And I would much rather have moto/verizon’s hands OUT of the custom roms.  But I have trust issues when it comes to having power against those who want to regulate the power.

      • PSU_DI

        You have used app launchers like adw, go, & launcher pro to name a few, right?  Each of those offer a unique user experience with out requiring root.  Each OEM needs to create a “Launcher” and give us the option to remove it from being the default.  If they want to add value let them create apps that can be pre-installed but are also removable is we so choose and let them be re-installable via the market on the particular OEMs phones.  I’ll admit the first versions of android were lacking some features so the OEM skin helped make the phone more usable.  Now a days not so much, Android has matured to a point where the OEMs needs to stop muddling with the CORE OS and they need to start focusing on the value added stuff like motoactive and other Apps that help improve our experience with their hardware

  • Soulbladesam

    You can flame me all you want, especially if you’re a dev and can show I have no clue what I am talking about. Please show me that I’m wrong.  
    But logically, phone hardware is changing… Almost no two phones are the same… Because who would be idiotic enough to pay $200 more for the exact same phone with the exact same insides? From what I’ve learned from building computers, is if your hardware doesn’t support the OS, you either don’t use the hardware, use a compatible os, or be awesome and make device drivers so it is compatible. This isn’t a game of “one os to rule them all”. Heck, look at i_hone, can’t just throw iOS 5 on a 3rd gen or earlier phone. Why? It’s not supported. The hardware is different. 
    The great thing about android is we HAVE differentiation, and fragmentation. Developers are encouraged to bring old devices new software. Do the major players (moto/samsung/etc) do it? Well, what $ is there to ride one device for three years, when you can ride 15 devices in three years? Phone reaching the end of it’s manufac life span? Chances are, fragmentation allowed an indie developer to breathe another year life into your phone, and heck, depending on how much that dev likes his phone, maybe more! But a dev knows when to move on to a better device. 
    Take ics on a droid 1, and tell me it runs as good if not better than the galaxy nexus. It won’t. It has sub-par hardware now. Technology goes quick, and as the software grows, so must the hardware. Hardware won’t work if it doesn’t talk to the os right. If that weren’t the case, all rooted users would be able to drop the new os on their phones as soon as source, and run it perfectly fine with no repercussions what-so-ever. 
    So as everyone rabbles about how much blur sucks, or that touchwiz sounds like a courtroom drama, this is the software the manufacturer uses that is compatible with the hardware they chose for the phone you bought. When android gets to the point that the hardware is required to be so similar that all it takes to get the new os is for Google to release source, we might as well be called apple, because we’ll have lost all individually, pay WAY marked up prices as opposed to using different and cheaper equipment and make it work with the great os, and in a lot of cases, make the android experience better than even google imagined. Case in point, fragmentation allowed cyanogen to make the rom for my droid x that I love and am loyal. You can’t explain that.

  • It’s called a platform for a reason.  As long as the core functionality works [i.e. the kernel off which everything else operates], it doesn’t matter how the UI or other things work.  And you can bet that the ICS kernel has a lot of backward compatibility incorporated into it. Hence differentiation is an apt word.

  • Tim242

    I love my Nexus. That being said, I miss some of the Sense features like smart dial, auto text reflow, and their style of tiled browsing. Stock Android is great, but lacks useful features such as these.

  • KevinC

    skins and all of the UI customizations are fine, even with no way to turn them off.  it’s all user choice.  if people don’t like the skin, they won’t buy the device.

    the real problem is devices running outdated versions of Android, which make it hard for developers to incorporate new features while still accommodating older devices.  that is fragmentation.

  • Tim242

    Without differentiation, or “fragmentation”, you have one boring experience like ios or wp7. I have never been negatively affected by so-called fragmentation…neither have 99.999999999999999999 percent of Android owners

  • Anonymous

    it is because of differentation that we have fragmentation. so, therefor, it is bad.

  • Naergoth

    Of course he’s going to say it’s “differentiation”. Ya don’t expect the guy to be honest do you? The stock owners would love that.. “Why yes, it’s fragmented.. it’s ridiculous that we have 50 different versions of this software…” Get him off the record, in a room with only friends.. THEN he might be honest.

  • LoneWolf

    “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

    Your most important words were in the first half of the first sentence.

    We’re customers.  If most of us are not interested in skins, or custom UIs, they should be an OPTION, not something forced on us.  We should have the option to either turn them off, uninstall them, or opt in to them. 

    You want to make your phone different from another?  Make the camera better.  Make appealing accessories (extended battery, car dock, alarm clock dock, or others) that make your phone a compelling choice and that adds to your sales margin.  Make your hardware better, like your screen or your battery life.  Skins and custom UIs may make a phone different –the problem is, they usually don’t make it BETTER.

    Adding skins slows upgrades to new versions of an OS, which further annoys smartphone enthusiasts.  Once again, you want to appeal to smartphone owners?  Show us your willingness to support your phone, so that when our two-year contract is up, we know we want your brand of phone again for our next purchase.

  • I think he knows it, just doesnt want to admit it.

  • Mike Woods

    he is an ass

  • Anonymous

    Every time he opens his mouth I want to shove a cannoli in it.

    • Or an eclair 😛

      • EC8CH

        he probably poos jellybeans

  • Drinksprite


  • Anonymous

    Someone should have asked him how the Update Alliance is doing.


    • EC8CH

      ohhhhh snap!

  • Simple.

    Cite one example of ANY consumer/tech reviewer saying that they bought Phone X specifically because of it’s awesome skin/UI.

  • Michael Quinlan

    Skins suck, plain and simple.  Differentiation is more than making devices LOOK different from each other; it’s manufacturers giving their products (or their entire product line) features that other products or manufacturers don’t offer.  

  • Anonymous

    Schmidt my Chairman says

  • Armorthane

    I would like to see every carrier have at least one phone that is without their custom UI Every Year! Doesn’t necessarily have to be a Nexus quality phone, but give the consumer a choice of not running your UI and all the bloatware that comes along with it.

  • Clever way of putting it. It’s the most positive spin on the ‘fragmentation’ issue that everyone talks about and that real android users know that it’s really not an issue.  

  • It’s such bs…ICS is absolutely beautiful…I don’t mind skins…Have a lot of fun on XDA posting custom screenies of my phone…but for gods sake CHANGE IT UP!  I’m running ICS on my DX right now and am in love.

    The problem with skins is they need to always be moving forward and they aren’t.

  • B

    I don’t think the average user cares if the OS is up to date as long as the apps work.  How many people still use Windows XP?

    • Evileclipse

      I know how you might think that’s a relative analogy but it isn’t. The fact that I’m on xp doesn’t change what applications will work, but it definitely does with android.

      • Tim242

        I’ve seen several programs that require xp or above. A lot of people are still on 2000, me, and even 98! You won’t find any apps that won’t run on GB or Froyo, that will on ICS. Quite the opposite. There are still many apps that don’t work on ICS yet. You have to know that low and mid range phones cannot get updated to the newest OS.

  • Anonymous

    Manufacturers: just make replaceable skins so you do not have to wait long to send updates. People who likes the skin can use it, who do not can remove it to go to stock version. Why so much fuss….

  • Anonymous

    “Differentiation” means we should be happy that companies are still shipping phones with an OS version that is 2 generations out-of-date? And then they refuse to provide updates to the latest version?

    • Tim242

      Nobody is shipping Froyo on current phones. ICS is only available to Nexus phones as of yet…that’s the lure of a Nexus. These phones being announced were in development long before ICS was even announced. Be patient, or by a God Dam*ed Nexus!

      • Granted

        One minute you’re saying how much you hated your Nexus and returned it, now you’re backing it again, haha! Forget patience, how about conviction.

  • NoahRHPS

    I’ll stick to nexus phones from now on 🙂

    • Anonymous

      sounds ok, but lets say Sprint puts out the newest Nexus…I wouldn’t switch..just saying

  • Adam Brandt

    they kind of sound like synonyms to me

  • Anonymous

    As golem would say to oem skins” leave and never comeback”   gets nexus ……. “I’m freeeee”.

  • The problem is, that so few phones run stock Android. Hell, there wasn’t an option on Verizon that was a decent stock phone until the Nexus. If they made manufacturers make one stock phone each, that would be really nice. That’s true choice.

  • Dbarden31

    Choice, for example, would be having the ability to buy a Razr and choose whether or not you want Moto blur or vanilla Android. That’s the ultimate choice! Heck even charge the people who prefer vanilla over OEM skins.

    • Anonymous

      Sure… up until that charge more thing 😀

      • Dbarden31

        Yeah but you know they gotta get SOMETHING out of it. But of course I prefer the free thing 🙂

    • Anonymous

      I disagree with the charge more to remove something.

      But *I* would stick with Blur for anything below ICS. I’ve tried ICS on my Xoom and DX and it’s nice, I’m just used to Blur.

      • Dbarden31

        Well I personally wouldn’t want to be charged for stock ICS but I would to have it over blur. Depends how much though haha. But my point wasn’t about being charged but more so about having a choice.

    • Why would a company charge for NOT doing something! It’s like saying that I WAS going to create the next Facebook, but if you pay me a bunch of money I won’t. These companies need to save the money they spend on developing the skins that people end up taking off their phones through custom ROM’s, and charge less for the phones themselves.

      • Just saying with windows to get stock windows from a company costs extra, simply because it is more work to make it stock for them. When in mass shipping you make an image that you ghost onto a computer (Everything your computer gets when you get it was ghosted on). To get it stock you need a new ghost image as well as more testing to get stock working on your device. Then to top it all off all that money you spend on R&D is wasted when someone buys stock. All this adds up to stock is more money to buy.

        TL;DR: It cost more money to make a stock version of a device too.

        • Tim242

          Exactly! That’s the same as decaf tea or coffee costs more than caff. They have to remove the caffeine. Sugar free foods costs more, for basically the same reason.

          • Anonymous

            These 2 things naturally have caffeine and sugar respectively. Just like Android is naturally Vanilla then things are added, not removed.

            If you buy a car with premium bumpers and wheels and you tell the dealership you want the car with the stock wheels and not the flashy ones they will gladly take it off for you for no additional charge. You might could negotiate a lower price, but that is irrelevant with Android since it is free.

          • Tim242

            You are missing the point. When something is mass produced one way, it costs to make some different. It interrupts the normal process.

            Sent from my Galaxy Nexus

      • That’s ridiculous – the number of people that take off those skins of their phones is so so small that it’s irrelevant. Android enthusiast blogs and communities are not representative of the average Android user.
        The manufacturers add skins to VISUALLY differentiate themselves. A lot of people don’t even understand specs. They might appreciate a higher number (e.g. more storage capacity or more megapixels in the camera), but the difference people will notice the most is in the UI – for better or worse.

        • But the average users do notice the performance penalty caused by poorly written skin. They wouldn’t know it’s caused by the skin, and so they will blame on Android.

          • Granted

            No they will blame it on that certain phone and buy a different Android phone next time. And i completely agree and it’s always the case that people can’t step outside their bubble and see the majority of Android owners could not give a damn what shin skin is on their phone as long as it takes good pictures like he said and has a good signal for calls, texting and internet.

  • Anonymous

    Average user looks for software differentiation. We look for hardware differentiation. Give us the option to turn it off or at the very least ban encrypted bootloaders or give us the keys to make our own decisions.

    • Anonymous

      We here are not average users.

      • Anonymous

        that was implied.

    • Tim242

      You can’t simply turn off a “skin.” It’s a lot more than a simple theme. Take Sense for instance. It has enhancements in the OS, like t9 dialer, better browser than most stock. When you pinch to zoom, the text auto reflows. That’s the two things I miss most abput Sense.

  • Anonymous

    He can call it what he wants, but it still results in a multitude of issues that hurt the users and app developers. 

  • Anonymous

    Wish they would do the smart thing and sale Motorola phones with stock Android and then let Samsung, HTC and the others do the skin thing. I love Motorola but blur doesn’t compare with Sense or Touchwiz in terms of looks. We end up with the best of both worlds.

    • Anonymous

      Launchers/skins should be able to downloaded like Launcher Pro and ADW from the market.

    • Anonymous

      Blur is actually really nice on the RAZR; better than stock Gingerbread and actually less intrusive than Sense. Older versions of Blur sucked a big one, though.

      • Tim242

        I couldn’t stand the blur skin on the Razr. The dark blue status bar and notification shade are hideous! Then there’s the clash of bright blue signal meter, and the bright green battery bar. Also don’t like the weird blue tones in everything else. Blue is my fav color, but they used all the wrong shades. ICS got it right.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know… I really like how my iPod Touch’s interface has never changed. It’s not possible for it to be different from other iPods either, so it makes me feel like I have no soul. It’s great to be exactly the same as everyone else! 

  • Springs

    Schmidt should be a politician with his differentiation BS. Let people choose to turn it of and I bet they’d see an sounding number of people NOT using them. People use them now because they have to.

    • Anonymous

      or because they don’t have the option to.

    • Rcl5113

      There are plenty of people who love skins and think pure android is too plain. My gf for one loves sense and the way it looks. 

      • Anonymous

        Us tech geeks don’t really get this. I asked my wife if she’d like me to root her Galaxy Tab 7 and remove TouchWiz. After I explained what TouchWiz was, she said, “but I like those features.”

        • lostsync

          This happened to me, too. She doesn’t want stock GB.

          • Anonymous

            I started my gf off on a Nexus 🙂 I didn’t want her mind tainted.

        • palomosan

          That’s a good point on Android previus versions, with ICS skins are not need it, they just make the phones lag.

        • Anonymous

          This. I’ve had 2 people who moved to the Nexus already ask me where their (Sense) clock and weather widget is and why can’t they get it back. Fancy Widget and beautiful widgets made them happy, but as my broken record says…DL posters are not vast majority. 

          • EC8CH

            I’d give stock android another one or two versions and I bet it will be more polished by far than any manuacturer skin.

            I’ll admit that stock gingerbread and prior were pretty rough, but ICS I think is already vastly better than any skin. Give 
            Matias Duarte a couple more swings at android.

          • Anonymous

            I think it’s actually already there with ICS except for a few UI consistencies such as the real menu button on top, down below or not at all. Otherwise it has an elegance not seen before. I agree it can only get better. 

          • EC8CH

            I agree.  The recent apps and browser tabs also add great functionality but are kind of rough visually, I hope they polish up those a bit in Jellybean.

            It will be interesting to see what the skinned versions of ICS are like.  Will they actually improve it, or will they just make it worse.

      • Anonymous

        I want stock Android and access to Sense Widgets.

        • Anonymous

          Well I’m a geek and I love Sense! Text reflow, smart dialing, widgets… I don’t wanna download an application for those features! I returned the Nexus for the Rezound! I could go on about why all night…

      • Anonymous

        sense is so littered with garbage redundancies

    • Adam Brandt

      Haha, totally…that answer sounded like it came from a dozen speechwriters that was rehearsed a bunch of times in preparation for JUST this question.  Way to take a fragmentation and attempt to change exactly what it is with a BLING word.  SCHMIDT FOR PRESIDENT 2012

  • Anonymous

    What this response lack is taking into account Software Updates. Someone should have asked that right on and there.

  • GCurry

    Bit of a stretch.   It’s fragmentation when a vendors own product line is so dense that older models aren’t supported by newer software.   That’s bad, and happening.  And it’s fragmentation when the volumes of each player are so relatively small, that they get no purchasing leverage while trying to compete with someone with great leverage.  That’s bad, and that’s happening also.

    But, having said that, I prefer the horizontally disintegrated model for phones now, over the vertically integrated model.   And I vastly prefer open, over closed.

    • Its not fragmentation when google is not the one providing updates its your manufacturer

      • GCurry

        Google’s strategy involves the entire supply chain: them, their downstream partners, channel partners etc.   So I was looking at it from the supply chain perspective, not whether Google’s value-add fragmented.

  • Skins (TouchWiz) kept ICS off the Galaxy S. I’m definitely not buying this argument. ICS is sexy by itself, so why would anyone want to clutter it with their bloat and “customizations”? At least hire a graphic designer to design your UI. (or better yet, just leave vanilla android)

    • Anonymous

      Why does VZW put bloat on their phones? you can’t explain that! ~O’Reily

      • Anonymous

        They get money for every extra application. It’s selling ad space.

    • Tim242

      I love my Nexus. That being said, I miss some of the Sense features like smart dial, auto text reflow, and their style of tiled browsing. Stock Android is great, but lacks useful features such as these.

      • balls

        +1 smart dial

      • Anonymous

        This is where the beauty of having the Android Market comes into play.

        • Tim242

          I’m not using a third party dialer. They eat battery. Opera is the only browser in the market that auto reflows. It is waaaay to resource heavy.
          Sent from my Galaxy Nexus
          On Jan 12, 2012 11:25 AM, “Disqus”

          • Anonymous

            I understand. I hope it’s better options by the time I pick mines up from Sprint. I’m coming from the EVO 4G but I don’t use much of the Sense UI anymore.

  • Hmmm Devices still running on froyo that could easily run and benifit from NON skinned ICS. Nope no frag here.

    • That has nothing to do with frag and everything to do with the manufacturer

    • CharlesHussell

      who cares?  get a new phone or learn your lesson and make the company you purchase from’s reputation for updates a key factor next time.  These companies have taken a couple years to realize they need to stay on top of software just as much as hardware.  They are starting to get it now.  

      If you bought a phone late after it went on sale and your upgrade is still far away realize that we all have to make compromises in life, and when you pay half as much for the phone it might mean you have to wait longer than others who paid full price to get the next new awesome stuff.

      Otherwise, learn to root your phone and put a custom ROM on yourself when they come out.

      You have options, you might even learn something if forced to take the last option.  Throwing a fit on the internet isn’t really helping though.

    • Tim242

      I love my Nexus. That being said, I miss some of the Sense features like smart dial, auto text reflow, and their style of tiled browsing. Stock Android is great, but lacks useful features such as these.

      • There is no useful feature of sense period. Except to slow devices down and have an over abundance of social crap no one on this planet needs!

        However I will agree the browsers tab on the Gnex (of course I have one too lol) could have had swypable tabs instead of hit a button bull crap . And smart dialing its called t9search and yes it should have been implemented into ICS but really all these lazy a** features.

        As a population are we really getting that lazy that swyping to the contact you wanna call he that hard of work! Hell who knows *pple probably owns patents on t9 which is why google hasn’t implemented it!

        • Tim242

          Going by your logic, a lot of useful features should be left out, because they promote “laziness.” The point of smart phones, is to make things easier and quicker. When I’m driving, entering 2 key presses on a t9 dialer is faster and safer than tapping contacts, then searching my list of contacts. As for browsing, the sense browser is great. Pinching to show open pages (tabs). Is great. Then, there’s text reflow. The sense browser auto reflows after you zoom. Stock doesn’t do that. You have to double tap to reflow, and it doesn’t always work. It’s small things like these that make Sense nice. Google Wallet is making up for it though : ). Oh, and I just discovered the NFC tasker app. I just have to get me some NFC tags to play with.

          Sent from my Galaxy Nexus
          On Jan 12, 2012 2:15 AM, “Disqus”

  • Tomato, tomahto.

    • Lakerzz


  • shdowman

    Schmidt for President.

    He just sold this Eskimo an ice cube…

    • Anonymous


      • Anonymous


        • EC8CH

          You find racism funny?

  • Skins are GREAT! If they give you the option to turn it off.  

    • Anonymous

      Amen. Judge a device not by the color of its skin, but the content of its bootloader.

      • Anonymous

        Oh Lordy, Lord when is that man Jha going to unlock those Motorola bootloaders or should we say Verizon 😛

        • Anonymous

          Blame Motorola. There are many devices being released on Verizon with unlockable bootloaders.

          • “Blame Motorola. HTC devices are being released on Verizon with unlockable bootloaders, plus the Galaxy Nexus.”


            But with HTC, which has been the Android Juggernaut up until this last quarter, is the only device manufacturer that is shipping locked but giving you the option to “unlock” it. 

            Motorola is stuck to their ways, and Samsung is only better because the Nexus line has been there’s for last two iterations. LG is DOA. 

          • Anonymous

            It’s really not the locked bootloaders that’s the problem for the majority of the public.  

            The problem is, lets say I have a circle of 10 friends, we all have android devices.  There could be 5 entirely different versions of android on each of our devices, not to mention what version each of us is using depending on our phones age. Until all of our phones are using a VERY similar skin and all using the SAME updated version of android, fragmentation will always be a problem. It prevents the natural social experience that phones create among groups of people.

            A friend of mine asks me how to do something on his HTC phone and I can’t even find where to start since I’m so used to stock android and I’m someone who’s well versed in phones.  

            Can you imagine how hard it is for other people to help each other to do interesting customization when everyone’s using a different version of android?

            It seems like they really don’t see this glaring problem and it’s such a shame because as we’ve seen with ICS, Google is fully capable of creating a truly great experience and if we were all using it, we would truly surpass all other communities. 

          • Anonymous


            Out of my team;
            4 have Motorola’s-1 OG, 1 DX, 1 Bionic and 1 Atrix(former i*hone 4 user, now has a fully unlocked Atrix and loves it)
            2 Have Samsung- 1 Epic 4G(who the owner hates even after i unlocked his bootloader and put CM7 on it, he wants a slider and is waiting for the D4 thanks to me) 1 cheap ass 3″ Samsung dumbphone.
            2 have HTC- 1 Thunderbolt and 1 Incredible 2
            The other two are i*hone 3G’s…..not the 3GS, just the 3G. Both are still running iOS 3.something and have made it very clear they have no intention of updating. They dont want to even update their own OS. 

            I know the Motorola’s like the back of my hand, and can work with the Epic 4G since my Atrix runs CM7 and Blur isnt THAT different from stock. Both HTC’s however, make me feel like an idiot. Sense is so far out there in left field its not even funny. Something as simple as changing the notification tone….which is simple in Blur/Stock became a 15 minute chore of “WTF is this?! WTF is that?!” 

            Im lost when it comes to HTC’s skin, dont have much experience with Touchwiz either. Ill stick to Blur thank you. 

          • Monty Waggoner

            That’s the problem with fragmentation? Because you can’t work an HTC phone?

            This whole thing is B.S. I can figure out any problem with any phone. They’re not rocket science.

            The only problem I can see with your 10 friends with their 5 different versions of android is that your friends phone may not be able to run the newest game that you have etc. based on their hardware and that isn’t the fault of the OS.

            Also, if your friend is jealous, put in a little overtime at work and buy one.

            I personally always try to have the best for the strict reason that I like it when my friends are jealous and dazzled at what MY phone can do. If they all did it, what would be the point?

            Long story short, maybe your friends are asking the wrong person for help.

          • Anonymous

            um, this was a scenario, not my actual life.  I was just pointing out how the fragmentation prevents cohesion between fellow android users. 

        • Anonymous

          I thought it was hilarious when Jha said they couldn’t make money releasing stock devices, and that they needed to differentiate….hello? OG Droid is calling…

          • Anonymous

            @CowboyDroid, Yeah, I would like to see the sales numbers for the Galaxy Nexus!!! It’s probably better than the Bionic and RAZR combined 😛

  • Anonymous

    He’s right… if only oems could differentiate AND keep software current…

    • Colin Zack

      This would be ideal. Choice is the best part about Android, including skins. Some people love them, some don’t, but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want the latest OS updates. Figure out a way to keep skins (or make them a choice ideally) and keep updates very timely, and that would be a great situation. 

      • Eazy

        That’s easy …less phones released…hahaha

    • Anonymous

      Maybe have it as a skin that functions on all of the iteractions of android… hmmm