Share this Story

The State of Android [Opinion]

Back in January of this year I reviewed the state of Android manufacturers up to that point. In January Samsung was the only major Android OEM that was making any money on Android phones. HTC had posted its first quarterly profit decline in two years while Motorola continued its financial decline amidst regulatory approval of Google’s then-proposed, now-approved purchase of the manufacturer. How is the ecosystem doing nine months into the year?

This is the year that Google was supposed to double down on tablets. That promise, made way back in March, was fulfilled in some ways by the Nexus 7. Instead of going head to head with Apple or preparing for Microsoft’s entry into the consumer tablet space with Surface, Google pointed their efforts at fighting back against the Kindle Fire. While the iPad has continued to dominate the market, the only other tablet to show any sizable adoption (aside from the TouchPad) has been the Kindle Fire. Amazon claims (without any sales numbers) that the Kindle Fire has 22% of the tablet market while Apple claims that the iPad has 68% of the market, leaving 10% remaining for Nexus 7, TouchPad, Galaxy Tab, Xyboard, Flyer owners.

While Google is expected to sell 8 million Nexus 7s by the end of the year (compared to around 5.5 million Kindle Fire sales), Amazon just launched a refreshed Kindle Fire and two Kindle Fire HD models. When shoppers visit Amazon.com to get holiday shopping done, they won’t be presented with a Nexus 7, but a Kindle Fire HD. Hopefully Google will be able to push Nexus 7 sales, but even if they’re able to match Amazon’s sales they’ll have done nothing to counter sales of Apple’s iPad. Add in the possible success of Microsoft’s Surface (or a number of other OEM’s Windows 8 offerings) and Apple’s expected entry into the 7-inch tablet space and Google will still be facing an uphill battle. While Amazon may be getting Android into the hands of users, Google can’t be happy that Amazon’s version of Android has been winning in the marketplace instead of theirs.

The Nexus 7 hasn’t been Google’s only move to control their version of Android. Google recently forced Acer to cancel the announcement of a device running Aliyun, a forked version of Android, because doing so would violate the terms of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA). Members of the Open Handset Alliance have agreed to not ship non-compatible Android devices, instead trying to build a unified, compatible Android ecosystem. To be clear, Acer can leave the OHA at any time to pursue Aliyun development, but if Acer wants to keep shipping devices with access to Google’s apps and ecosystem then they can only ship devices with compatible versions of Android.

Shortly before Samsung’s unsurprising loss to Apple in this year’s (maybe this decade’s) biggest mobile lawsuit, Motorola filed a new patent lawsuit against Apple. While Motorola and Google were originally scheduled to go to court back in June, Judge Posner threw the case out because neither Motorola or Apple could identify the damages they had suffered from each other’s infringement. Motorola is arguing that all of Apple’s devices (save the then unannounced iPhone 5) have violated some seven of Motorola’s patents. While Google has promised to only use patents in defense of Android, this move seems unequivocally offensive in nature. So far Google has avoided a lawsuit directly with Apple, but Google’s purchase of Motorola and subsequent filing against Apple opens up the door to more direct litigation between the developers of the world’s top two mobile operating systems. Apparently Google has decided that the best way for them to defend Android in the court room is to litigate against Apple directly instead of using OEMs like HTC to fight its battles for it. While I would prefer to see cross-licensing agreements between Apple and Google, it seems as though these lawsuits will be going on for years.

So what has really changed in the last nine months? Samsung is still the largest Android OEM with HTC struggling to keep up with sales and Motorola rereleasing last year’s phones. Meanwhile, lower tier Android OEMs like LG are releasing bricks. Amazon is still dominating a tablet market that Google has failed to enter successfully. The release of the Nexus 7, despite being superior to the refreshed Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD, appears to be too little, too late. Google is still struggling to regain control of their ecosystem while partners like HTC run to Microsoft to try to get some sales in the US and Ice Cream Sandwich slowly rolls out to more devices in the wake of Jellybean. Android is still a huge force in the phone marketplace, but it seems more and more likely that Samsung and Motorola (Google) will be the only real players in time.

The mobile space is still very young; as Merlin Mann is fond of saying, every day someone is born who hasn’t seen the Flintstones. AT&T and Verizon are just now reaching the point where 50% of their customers have smartphones; even fewer people have tablets. Like every industry, however, not everyone can win. Android may end up being a major player in the tablet space, but it may end up being Amazon’s version of Android if Google doesn’t step up their game against the iPad. Android is still a resounding success in mobile both in the US and worldwide, but Google’s OEM’s can’t all succeed with Android. We can expect the mobile space to continue to shift and change over the next few years as some companies that were nothing become household names while other once powerful companies fall by the wayside. Android still has plenty of room to grow and improve and plenty of time to compete with Apple in the tablet space, but there are no assurances that companies like HTC will still be a major player in the Android ecosystem or that Google will control Android on tablets.

  • Sobr0801

    Funny thing is everyone (android fanboys) is still discounting Windows Phone, this will really come and bite Android in the ass I think. I am a fan of ALL 3 OS’s (not including bb), and think they all have their spot in the market.

    • Windows Phone needs better notifications, better apps, and better multitasking for it to compete. Hopefully we’ll see those things in Windows Phone 8. Until then, it deserves to be discounted.

      • Sobr0801

        Well WP8 is a whole new ball game. The only one who has something to lose from WP8 is Android.

  • JMonkeYJ

    i am by no means a Ron hater, and usually largely agree with his editorials, but i think there are significant problems with his arguments here.

    he seems to write off the Nexus 7 as not accomplishing the goal of expanding the Android tablet market because the Fire and iPad are still selling so well. the key thing i think is wrong with his argument is that he (like many others) think Google is competing directly with Amazon. i don’t think this is true. the low-priced tablet market is in its infancy, even beyond this whole smart device industry in general. tablets like the Fire and N7 are not competing in the iPad space. instead, they are opening up the tablet industry to those who don’t want to spend iPad prices. in this way they are much like the overall Android strategy: to offer the whole range of devices so that people in any price range can find an Android device. now you can see the Fire and N7 are both tapping and opening up a new market, with more than enough room for both to exist and potentially sell a lot. i don’t find it difficult to believe that the same thing will happen to the iPads that is (very gradually) happening to iPhone devices: they will become boutique niche products, with Android tablets filling most of the other product ranges.

    i do worry about Android being distilled to a small number of manufacturers, but i don’t see that as inevitable as Ron seems to. in particular, his example of HTC supposedly fleeing to Windows is clearly flawed since being a huge player in the Windows Phone market yields significantly less overall marketshare than being a small player in the Android market. HTC has always had diverse product offerings, and their continued support of Windows is simply a continuation of that strategy, not a new fear of the Android market.

    i totally agree that Google is using the Motorola brand name as a shield to directly attack Apple in the courts.

    • I appreciate your feedback. Thanks for taking the time to write up a response.

      If you don’t think the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire are competing directly against each other, who are they competing with? What other tablet in the 7 inch range is doing well? You admit yourself that they aren’t competing with the iPad (although technically the Kindle Fire is the only tablet competing with the iPad in terms of market share). Just because there is room for both the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire (which I agree with) doesn’t mean Google and Amazon aren’t competing directly and certainly doesn’t mean both will succeed.

      Also, I don’t know where you got the idea that the iPhone is a niche device. The iPhone 5 sold 2 million devices in the first 24 hours. That’s not niche.

      HTC made a huge play with the 8X and 8S. They’re going head to head with Nokia, who has been Microsoft’s main partner in getting Windows Phone into the market. Microsoft calling HTC’s 8X and 8S the signature devices of Windows Phone (like a Nexus device) is a clear message that HTC is trying to push Nokia out of the spotlight. While Samsung has been dominating Android sales, no one has been able to get Windows Phone into the market in a significant way. I’m not saying HTC is bowing out of Android right away, but when was the last time HTC had a hit Android device? The Evo? The Incredible? Both were years ago and both were stuck on one carrier. If HTC can get their Windows Phone devices on every carrier and convince people to buy them that might be their way to success. It will be much easier for them to compete with Nokia than with Samsung, too. Like I said, it’s definitely not a for sure thing – anything can happen. I just think that’s what the market looks like right now.

      • JMonkeYJ

        A couple responses:

        I agree that just because there is room for the Fire and Nexus, it doesn’t mean both will succeed. I don’t think the sales of one will impact the sales of the other greatly because they have carved up the low-price market, with Amazon targeting the people who like Kindles/Amazon and watch videos and Google going after people who want an all-around tablet. Pretty difficult for me to say what over the long term is going to be the bigger segment, but you can’t deny the Kindle’s relative success so far.

        My comment on the iPhone being niche is purely from the marketshare numbers and trends, where iOS is <20% and falling. This reminds me greatly of the Windows/MacOS situation and I think most would consider Macs a niche product at that time, that nonetheless were able to move significant units of individual models. In a huge market like home computers or phones impressive unit sales are misleading.

        One interesting thing about the Windows phone space is that since no competition is allowed on the software side, the manufacturers are desperately tying to come up with hardware differentiation. This could really push things like cameras in phones forward.

        • I don’t see how it’s possible that the sales of the Kindle Fire won’t impact sales of the Nexus 7. If people are buying one they aren’t buying the other – that’s a direct impact on each device. Through the Kindle Fire Amazon has been able to not only push Google’s version of Android to the sidelines (for now – we’ll see what sales look like next quarter hopefully), but they’re also stepping up their game to compete against Apple – something Google has failed to do in the tablet space in any significant way.

          In terms of market share, you’re absolutely right. Both in the US and abroad Android is dominating iOS. That said, I don’t think it’s a niche product. Windows Phone is a niche product. There are still plenty of people who don’t know what Windows Phone is. Windows Phone has almost no impact on the market. iOS, on the other hand, continues to influence Android and Android continues to influence iOS (not only in features between the platforms, but also design, apps, multimedia, etc.). It may turn out that iOS becomes a niche product in the long run (much like Mac OS and Windows), but at this point we’re still in the early years of the war for this platform.

          You’re right about Windows Phone hardware to some degree, although since Microsoft controls the chipset, etc. that leaves things like speaker and cameras left to OEMs. That limits the amount of innovation, but the camera on the Lumia 920 looks better than any camera I’ve seen on another smartphone.

          • JMonkeYJ

            As an example of how a Kindle sale wouldn’t affect a Nexus 7 sale and vice versa:
            – Someone buys a Kindle because they want what they view as a simple tablet that is mostly for reading with some video watching and web browsing. This person probably wouldn’t consider the Nexus 7 because it doesn’t have access to Amazon’s Kindle library (or something like that) and it seems more complicated.
            – Someone buys a Nexus 7 because they want a full-featured tablet. This person probably wouldn’t consider a Kindle because it doesn’t come with the Play store and other trappings of a full tablet out of the box. I fall into this category, and would never have bought a Kindle, but did buy the N7, so I know at least this is a realistic example 😉

            Those are just simple examples that may or may not be applicable to a large portion of the budget tablet market, but they are at least possible and not unreasonable, I think.

            Thanks for the good discussion.

  • majormudafuckinhun

    I think Google has a real shot with the Nexus branding this year thanks to the Nexus 7. The Galaxy Nexus is still a dev phone. If an iPhone had been released with the amount of problems the Galaxy Nexus had, there would’ve been wide spread rioting. I’m actually switching to an iPhone 5. Don’t get me wrong, I love Android but I gotta see what the big deal is for myself. There are two phones to be realesed this year I could see me selling the 5 for, one of the Nexi and the Lumia 920. I’m personally not a big fan of Samsung. I think Google has known they need to push the Nexus name on the consumer level. The Nexus 7 sales have shown that it’s possible. They better play their cards right because Samsung is gonna own their ass if they don’t. My opinion….

  • William_Morris

    We all know and love our different devices but this may just be exactly what the real problem with the Android product is: differentiation.

    The all too apparent fact is that because our beloved Android is open-source and has multiple manufacturers, plus only some slight limitations when it comes to carrier involvement, we are left with products that work well but are hardly what you’d call a unified user experience.

    This is probably one of, if not the most, important reason I purchased “Nexus” devices. I, like many, don’t want to have to relearn to ride a bicycle each time I get a new mobile device. I also have realized that the polished look, feel, and performance of “vanilla” android shows me you don’t need skins to make your device work better.

    Some manufacturers feel their skin not only provides a better experience but makes their device more palatable to a new user. I’m gonna call this bogus because we can see the two (three if we consider Blackberry) major competitors against android have no differentiation between their devices and it makes them look more attractive. Apple’s devices all get the latest firmware with very few minor tweaks and no intervention from the carriers. Microsoft’s Windows Phone is very similar to this albeit on a smaller scale.

    So what can help things out? More involvement from Google and less from the manufacturer/carrier overlap. I bought an Android phone for the Google/Android stuff, not for Samsung/hTC/Moto’s skins or Verizon’s BS applications that waste space. Google may have to put a foot down on this whole “we’ve gotta test it with our network” crap. Apple sets a release date and then does it. Perhaps Google should consider doing the same.

  • bakdroid

    Yet another douchebag post from the BGR King of DroidLife.

  • voterfraud

    “The mobile space is still very young; as Merlin Mann is fond of saying, every day someone is born who hasn’t seen the Flintstones.”
    To be fair/pointlessly pedantic, I’m fairly sure no one has ever been born having already seen the Flinstones…

    • The context of that quote was that someone at a TV studio asked why they kept on showing the Flintstones when it was such an old show. An exec responded that every day someone is born who hasn’t seen the Flintstones. The point was not everyone has a smartphone yet and those numbers will keep going up.

  • turb0wned

    I think Sony is the next up and coming company. Once they start coming yo the states and the marketing begins. I think they will be up there with Samsung.

  • Zach Armstrong

    Google needs to get the carriers to release the updates in a timely manner. This phones still waiting for ICS when Jellybean is already out is not cuting it. Also carrier exclusively is hurting it also. Samsung finally stepped up with the S3 and the Note 2 and it shows.

  • T4rd

    There’s still much to be improved upon in Android in terms of features and performance, IMO. The hardest and most difficult issue to improve on is third party apps. Most of them still don’t use the latest SDKs, don’t follow ICS guidelines and therefore run and look like garbage compared to the same app on iOS and WP7 platforms. I’m not sure how they can enforce that better in the app store aside from removing them until they’re updated (which I doubt they would do that).

    Another much-needed improvement is in messaging. As much as I hate to say it, iMessage is a great service on iOS and Google needs to have something to compete with it. Gtalk is decent (I use it more than SMS), but it needs to be transparent to the user like iMessage is (if they’re on Android, then it uses Gtalk or another service, if not then it defaults back to SMS). On top of that, they need to add the ability to attach pics (MMS like messages) to messages in Gtalk and give us the ability to copy text from conversations (very annoying for me sometimes).

    Just some ideas I’ve been thinking about to improve Android. Does Google have a place to suggest these things? Or is there just that site for bug reporting?

    • You nailed the two features everyone has been screaming for with gtalk over the past two years. How much effort would it really take to code this in? …probably a few hours max.

  • David Marzluf

    you know I am sick of hearing about how great and smooth iphone and ipad are and about there updates who cares. of course it is easy when apple controls all of it. apple has been around along time and they have had a long time to get it right. Android is pretty new hell even google is pretty new when you think about it. give them a break. I love my droid phone. and it is only getting better and better.

  • David Marzluf

    Google and Android are the future. Just wait and see what googmoto does next year with phones.

  • enerjak

    Plot Twist: Google adds a skin to the Nexus 7 to compete with the Kindle Fire.

  • Levi Wilcox

    Amazon is letting all of their non-fire tablet inventory go out of stock. Actually had a sales rep tell me if I wanted the asus infinity soon, I should just buy it elsewhere because they weren’t getting another shipment anytime soon.

  • jeff3yan

    Luckily I don’t support any particular OS, OEM or platform. It’s been really great seeing all the gadgets come out this year and having all this choice is awesome.

    • 640k

      This one brings up an interesting point. It wasn’t much more than three years ago when there were only one or two smartphones to choose from on most carriers. Windows Mobile had been around forever and people hated it. Nobody understood blackberry nor did they have a BIS server to sync to. Only one carrier offered the iPhone. When the original DROID came in to the picture, things got heated real fast. Now we all gripe and complain about this feature or that feature, I love Android. I love it when a phone does what its supposed to and not when the OEM decides what it ought to do. We’re living in a great time for technology.

  • situman

    The biggest hurdle for Google and Android are the carriers themselves. JB has been out for a while and it’s still waiting approval from Verizon for my S3. Heck even the GNex doesnt have it yet. If Google can grow some balls like Samsung did, there will not be any more talk of fragmentation or junk like that and every phone will be up to date.

    • sgtguthrie

      “Like Samsung did…”? Would you mean like when they agreed to lock the bootloaders of the S3 and Note 2 on VZW? Their only ever locked devices! That certainly took some balls to stand up to vzw…. Or wait… I mean…. Oh….

      • Dain Laguna

        he means with regards to not letting verizon eff up their vision of what their devices should be. the s3 and note 2 will be the s3 and note 2 regardless of carrier. htc hasnt had that same success. now while the gnex was the gnex across the board, google needs to do something about vzw making it as non-nexuslike as possible by delaying updates.

        • sgtguthrie

          I knew what he meant, I’m just saying sammy’s balls aren’t as huge as he made them sound, that’s all 😉

  • marcusmaximus04

    Wait, you’re making a lot of claims about sales of the Nexus 7, but there doesn’t seem to be anything in the way of facts backing them up; there’s just a lot of conjecture.

    • Welcome to a Ron article.

      • They’re all marked as opinion. Feel free to not read them or, if you dare, identify some concrete issues you have with what I wrote instead of leaving a snarky five word comment. It’s easy to play the critic, it’s a lot more difficult to have a conversation. I hope you’re up to the challenge.

        • majormudafuckinhun

          Let’s rename this place Snarkey’s Machine!

    • The only claim I made is that Google is expected by analysts to sell 8 million Nexus 7s. I’d love to have real numbers, but Google hasn’t announced them. All I have are Apple and Amazon’s numbers plus analyst projections. I’m not making this up, just going off of the information that’s available.

  • G-Nex 22

    Motorola hasn’t figured it out yet when it comes to releasing phones that were in production nearly a year ago, HTC has too many problems with their UI but is trying to figure it out…and Samsung has issues with build quality. I to this day enjoy my Galaxy Nexus and will not cross over the to darkside (insert fruit here…). But software updates need to come out sooner for people to understand the big picture of what Android if capable of. I would guess that about 75-80% of people on this site have rooted or unlocked their phone, but not everyone who is seeking a new phone is going to want to tamper with their device and try to maximiuze their experience. They would rather wait for the software update to come out and continue to enjoy their phone instead of complaining about losing a 4G signal every 5 minutes (cough, Verizon, Cough…where is 4.1, cough…)
    Lets just hope that companies like Samsung, Motorola, HTC and suprisingly LG with the Q can create fewer phones, but ones with high quality and specs, no longer move back in time with releasing phones like the Motorola RAZR M…

    • Raven

      I was right there with you until your last line. What is wrong with the RAZR M? One of the fastest and most power efficient processors on the market, plenty of memory, expandable storage, and a reasonable size that is actually comfortable to carry and use as a phone. My only gripe with it is that it does not have HDMI out.

      • Aardvark99

        The Razr M is maybe a bit late by a few months, but I generally agree that it isn’t “last year’s phone” (as the article suggests) or “moving back in time” (as G-Nex 22 calls it)

        Also, what is up with Droid-life giving positive reviews of phones and then bashing them in other posts? This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this!

        • G-Nex 22

          Moving back in time was a bit rough now that I look at it….how about we say…stuck in idle…

          • Aardvark99

            Maybe from a physical design perspective… hmmm… well looking at it that way “backwards” and “last year” might not be that far off.

        • Joshua Colon

          Didn’t Kellex do the review on the Razr M? This is Ron’s article. Even though it’s the same site they may have different opinions about the same phone.

      • G-Nex 22

        I wouldn’t say the M isn’t a total bust, but it was a bit disapointing looking at some of the specs. The processor is one of the best festures of the phone, but it is lacking the 2 GB of RAM and is packing a smaller battery than expected. If they can get over a 3000mAh battery in the MAXX, I think they could have done it for the M. Unless….the Motorola Droid RAZR M Maxx….

  • RoadsterHD1

    any news about OMAP and quad-core processors?

  • Michael Salinger

    Where do you get the idea that the Nexus 7 is too little, too late? Apples 68% numbers were through June 2012, right before the Nexus 7 was released (convenient that they used that date; it probably represented the iPad’s peak). Truth is, we don’t know how the Nexus 7 is doing except that it is selling well enough to have had supply issues. I think the jury is still out on just how much of an impact the Nexus 7 will have / is having. I’ve seen several of them out in the wild, which is more than I have seen of most other Android tablets and even more than I’ve seen the original Kindle Fire.

    • You’ve seen several, I’ve seen none. I didn’t say it is too little too late, but that it might be. We need a Nexus 10.

      • Mike

        Seriously? Must live in a box. I’m a college student and i’ve noticed four without paying much attention. For comparison i’ve seen exactly zero Kindle Fires.

        And actually yes, you did say it’s too little too late. Read your own article dude. You said it flat out.

        Every review praised the crap out of the N7, whereas every review I’ve read of the KF HD says it’s nothing to write home about, everything that sucked on the KF still sucks. Namely their crap interface.

        • “The release of the Nexus 7, despite being superior to the refreshed Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD, appears to be too little, too late.”

          • Mike

            Yes, I can read. So tell me where you ever said the Nexus MIGHT BE too little too late. You said, flat out, it “appears to be too little too late.” If it were too little, the reviews wouldn’t praise it. If it were too late, it wouldn’t be selling. You’re in the technology news business (well, at least you think you are), so you should know that it is in fact selling.

          • It is selling, but we don’t know if it is selling better than the refreshed Kindle Fire or Kindle Fire HD. We have no sales numbers for any of those products. My guess is Amazon will outsell Google. I’d prefer they didn’t, but that’s what I think will happen. That’s why I said appears, because we don’t have sales numbers for any of the devices.

    • Taylor Daniels

      I think the Nexus 7 isn’t making that much of an impact on the average consumer. It’s still a lot of people that don’t even know what it is when they see it. I was in class the other day and two people asked about my N7, and they never heard of it, but once I told them the price, they said that they might consider buying one. So as far as impact goes, I would say it obviously has the opportunity to be huge, but as of now the average consumer doesn’t know much about it. Google should just throw it on the homepage, or somewhere in Gmail or anything, because so far I’ve only seen 1 other person with one, and that was today while riding the bus.

      • balthuszar

        the nexus 7 was on the google homepage last week…

        • Taylor Daniels

          A week is not long enough. They should just leave it there, it is their product.

          • William_Morris

            While that’s your opinion, Google knows the reason their search engine became popular was because it wasn’t loaded up with advertisements and other frivolous things. It is my hope that there’s some kind of push they can do but they know the reason people came to the Google website was because it was so easy a child could do it. Type what you want to search and then click search or “I’m feeling lucky.”

          • balthuszar

            you said to put it on the homepage, not how long to put it there…

      • Exactly. Where do people go to shop? It isn’t Google.com. There’s a reason people are buying Kindle Fires.

  • Raven

    As my dad used to say, “you talked a lot, but you didn’t really say anything”.

    • +1

      As unstructured, rambling editorials go this one was remarkably short on insightful opinion. Bonus demerits for quoting Merlin Mann.

  • sgtguthrie

    If only the nexus 7 had expandable storage and hdmi out, it would KILL the Kindle Fire and iPad imo… I LOVE my NEXUS 7! I could sure use more storage though and was confused to find no hdmi out…

    • Raven

      I totally, wholeheartedly agree, but in Google’s mind, you are supposed to store everything in their cloud and play it back via your Nexus Q.

      • sgtguthrie

        Q sucks… I’m not buying it and I’m a geek! That being said, how exactly will they market that to the not so geeky?

    • cbstryker

      Once Miracast becomes standard you won’t need an HDMI port anymore.

      • sgtguthrie

        I understand that, but it’s not here yet. Future is good, but what about here and now 😉

    • Aardvark99

      You forgot to add an Apple or AT LEAST Amazon-level marketing for this Nexus 7+ you’re proposing. Without that it certainly won’t kill anything in terms of sales.

      • sgtguthrie

        ThGoogle . com. ly could. Remember, we’re talking the world’s largest search giant! Most of their income is from AD REVENUE! Not to mention the amount of attention something can get by placing it on google.com. They could always advertise their devices there. I would find that appropriate and it wouldn’t cause a lot of clutter 🙂

  • TG

    apple does a great job of building hype on devices and OS updates. Android may never be able to release a software update on __/__/____ like Apple can bc of the obvious. I appreciate Androids openness and variety of phones/tablets/skins, etc. I just hope OEMs can work on pushing updates a lot sooner than what they have been. It’s not fair to some who are stuck on gingerbread/ice cream sandwich to have to wait 6 months for jelly bean; by that time key lime pie will be released…and fragmentation is ongoing.

  • IMO the manufacturers need to embrace the pure Google experience and present a unified front vs iDevices. They are being hurt by slow updates and mostly ugly UIs. HTC’s best year was the year they made the N1 and now Samsung, the chosen Nexus partner, is leading the field. I see a connection.

    • dangolds

      I don’t. Samsung’s sales are being carried by the Galaxy S3 and tiva lesser extent, the Note series, both of which run Touch Whiz.

  • Ethan Ash

    As a VZW Nexus owner, I can’t help but toss out that the update system, or lack thereof, is still a glaring weakness. It’s painful to me that within 24 hours iOS 6’s adoption rate (with no iPhone 5 devices activated) is 15%. I wish we had anything vaguely comparable to that efficiency.

    • March McLaughlin

      I couldn’t have said it better.

    • MotoRulz

      We need more Nexus phones with different manufactures without carrier interference to come close to that kind of adoption rate. I pray for this nightly..

      • MFG

        We pray together.

    • Jroc869, Cool story bro

      I think Android could have this and its so simple to accomplish. 1 release the next batches of Nexus Devices with JB even if KLP is ready to roll. 2. Let oems work with KLP so by this time next year they can do an official launch and hopefully oems and carriers will have had time to get their updates ready.

      I think this will also solve the issues many people have with the time it takes for skinned Android to get updates. It should also cut the amount of devices that drop running an old version of Android. Somewhere something has to slow down and I think Android would be better served if this happened.

      • gkinsella2

        This has been a glaring issue for 2012 – there is no reason new phones should continue to be released with ICS now that JB is out. GOOG should’ve timed JB’s release with OEMs so that the newest/best phones could be released with JB. This also affects developers from the sense that you’re now seeing CM building both ICS and JB versus focusing on one at a time.

    • ok

      honestly, if they had a system where they could separate themes from the core OS and just do core OS updates through Google we would be set. Might be a pipe dream, but it needs to happen at some point because that’s honestly all that anyone can really hold against Android anymore.

      • Jroc869, Cool story bro

        You know for the longest I hated skins, but I am starting to think they might not even be the problem either. In some cases skins are needed like for the Galaxy note series of phones and tablets. I kinda said this a few post below, but Google needs to change the way they are launching these updates to the newest os. If they have the update ready and give oems 4 or 5 months to get their stuff together before they officially release it, more phones will be updated instantly and phones will be released running the latest os and not some outdated version.

        • MFG

          Don’t forget the carriers, though.

          • Fattie McDoogles

            If Google took a firmer stance on the whole update process I think it would be better. Apple tells the carriers when the software will be released not the other way around. I think Google needs to be the focal point of Android development not the OEM’s. If Google was responsible for approving OEM releases it would be a much smoother process. Because then like Apple the carriers wouldn’t have to be hands on. They could release updates through the Play Store whenever they wanted.

    • John Davids

      ^this. all day long, this.

    • somepne asf

      Correction: a portion of the 15% is running 6.

      I4 users still don’t have most of the new features.

      I.e. I get gmap/navigation updates immediately on 2.3, 4, or 4.1. Don’t have to wait the whole year.

      P.s. you do realize that the “delay” in other non nexus devices is because HTC, Sammy, moto, etc. All add features not in stock Android, right? For example, the sgs3 is already Miracast certified. The sgs1, when it went from 2.1 to 2.2, it included some features of 2.3 (handle based selection handles)

      • Yeah, but those features aren’t wanted, and s-voice is no where near Google Now. It is a complete iOS ripoff. Entirely. Google is busy making a more functional, and more appealing os, and the other OEMs are ripping it to pieces with sense, blur (or whatever it is called now), and touchwiz.

    • Carlton Madden

      Seems to me that a part of the OHA agreement should be to mandate OS updates in a timely manner. For instance give carriers and handest manufacturers 30 days to update or loose access to OHA ‘perks’ until complete. It just seems like Google’s agreements are stout enough.

    • Sobr0801


  • March McLaughlin

    As a Bionic user and an I/S analyst for a company, in my opinion Android will continue to be plagued by the problems that have plagued it for the past years: terrible support and updates from the carriers, too much diversification (not fragmentation), and 2nd-best stability for a mobile OS. Although as the decision maker for our I/S infrastructure here, I get to enjoy a phone of my choosing (and I do like my droid), I made the decision to go from BBs to iPhones because the iOS platform is a standard platform that allows me to push our MDM solution broadly. It’s no BES sure, but I really hate all the little differences between Samsung/HTC/Moto/etc. Also, not every android phone is international, which is a major problem for our traveling associates.
    The android tablet ecosystem is even more burdensome. Like it or not, but our standard issue table is iPad 2s. For the corporate environment, I don’t see anything better than iOS.
    To me, nothing has changed with Android, and it still pisses me off about how the carriers exert too much control on the android phones.

    • Agree completely

    • sgtguthrie

      For once someone says something good about iOS and I have to agree. That’ll likely never happen again 😉

      I see what you’re saying. I think there needs to be a more centralized nexus like control over Android updates. The carriers and oem skins are ruining the platform!

    • panicswhenubered

      I’m the CIO at a national construction company and made virtually the same decision as you. I have a Gnex with a custom rom and wouldn’t switch it for iOS right now. However, I ran a pilot program to issue 20 Casio G-shock smartphones to some construction project managers. It was a disaster, the UI is too difficult to manage for some people, it’s too customizable and complicated, ultimately. I ended up ordering and issuing 107 iPhone4S’ for the project managers. It’s been bliss since then, easy updates, remote control via itunes business management and deployment.

    • Absolutely agree. I support the mobile device policy at my employer. Android devices are hands down the worst to manage and support. For all the advances Android has made, its still not much more than a hobbyist OS. Which pains me to say, as I’ve been a fan since the G1.

  • Suralin

    The tablet thing is definitely tricky for Google. It needs far more marketing and it needs to display exactly what the Nexus 7 can do that the Kindle HD cannot. Those that bought into the iPad mostly did so because of the logo on the back and the hype surrounding it. Those that have other tablets are using it for movies and books. So from there, what more is there? The Asus Transformer showed that a tablet can truly be productive, but the Microsoft Surface has turned the tablet into a true mobile computer.

    It just appears that Google needs to find some feature that makes users go “Hey, I want that!” If they ever get their Google glasses out the door and find a way to utilize it with a tablet in ways never seen before, then we could just have a winner.

  • PyroHoltz

    Interesting perspective Ron. I’m convinced Google and Apple are releasing products that cater to different buyers. And, let’s be honest Apple products are still status symbols and Android devices are just now beginning to become such. Forgive me for saying, this comparison is getting a little tired. Can’t they just be different?

    • David Cosme Jr.

      That’s an interesting comment – “Can’t they just be different?”. I’m not so sure. Are they too similar to just be different? I think they try to accomplish the same things in very similar ways. They can coexist, but comparisons will always exist. Or maybe I’m missing your point.

      • JB

        They can’t really, there’s a reason why the smart phone revolution didn’t happen until the iphone. As much as the techies and tweakers liked palmOS and WiMo (and still like Android) the average user wants simplicity and ease of use. As much as I love the tweakability of android, it needs to improve the out of the box experience if it’s going to stay profitable (faster updates, smoother UI, decreased OEM/carrier bloat, better app/device compatibility, etc). The easiest way will be decrease the massive number of Android devices, which really just further confuses the non-technophiles.

  • ddevito

    Great article, but I can’t help but feel depressed 🙁

    • nightscout13

      They already have….

      • ddevito

        I certainly agree with that, but combine their innovative efforts with their newly found focus on design and I honestly believe their way will reap benefits for us for years to come

        • David Cosme Jr.

          ddevito – I completely agree. I really enjoy and appreciate their products. I also believe they aren’t near done yet.

    • David Cosme Jr.

      I share that sentiment. But, and maybe it’s naïveté, I have faith on Google and Android that they will sort out their priorities and continue to provide outstanding products.

      • ddevito

        I do too. I recently replaced my GNex (bricked NFC chip) and went back to my OG for a few days. Let me tell you, I was so taken back at how quickly Android is evolving. It truly is incredible.

        • David Cosme Jr.

          Sidenote, still have my OG (also preNexus) and am considering throwing JB on there, just for fun. I think it’s crazy that JB and Android are so flexible that the OG could handle it!

    • FarmerTechno

      I definitely agree with this. Just look at the huge jump Android has taken in two years with Matias in the fold. Imagine how much further we’ll be in 2 years!

    • Um, they already have. Android already has WAY more features than iOS and is more flexible. We have Google Maps Navigation, Google Now, etc. etc. Apple has a new broken Apple Maps and an extra row of icons. Jeez, what more do you want?

      • brandnew234

        On top of that, they have most of the smartphone market share.

    • Great article, but I can’t help but feel depressed 🙁

      Editorially-induced malaise. Virus; transmitted by a writer who, lacking any genuine inspiration and having no worthwhile insight into his chosen subject, simply goes through the motions to please his editor (c.f.: Deadline Fever).

      Go someplace else and read two better-written, more informative pieces about Android. You’ll feel better in the morning. 😉

    • michael arazan

      But getting that innovation out to the devices is wear its lacking. ios6 is already on 15% of devices in a week and >2% of JB is on android devices in over 2 months, no thanks to verizon. At the end of this month it’ll increase, because every Galaxy nexus now has JB except for verizon of course. Still need a way to push these carriers into updating faster, the oems have updates but carriers won’t update phones if they feel the money is not worth it. Carriers have to pay for the update and testing and if the phone didn’t sell enough, or isn’t a “popular” device in their eyes, they won’t update it, even if there are updates for it too.

  • Captain_Doug

    Great things to come.