Finally, a grip to eliminate the Google Mobile OS fragmentation. Motoblur, Sense, TouchWiz, Xperia are all nice ROMs, but it's a hit-n-miss when developing apps that's compatible across different platforms. It's the reason why apps such as Angry Birds, Tiny Wings, or even Grindr take longer to develop on Android than on Apple's iOS. icon_evil.gif.icon_mad.gif.icon_evil.gif.icon_mad.gif

Google Cracks Down on Android Fragmentation
By Kat Asharya | Thursday, Mar 31, 2011 12:02 PM
Google is intensifying efforts to cut down fragmentation of its Android mobile operating system, angering hardware partners as it moves away from the open-source origins. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company has been asking Android distributors to sign a "non-fragmentation clause" that gives the company final approval of code tweaks that licensees add to the original Android platform.

Procedures are aimed towards building a quality "common denominator" experience that address past issues of fragmentation, according to John Lagerling, Google's director of global Android partnerships. "After that, the customization can begin."

But the clause is affecting companies working in the Android ecosystem, like LG, Toshiba, Samsung and even Facebook, which has been trying to develop an Android device. Executives at the social networking site are rankled by Google's interference, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Google has also reportedly tried to hold up the release of Verizon Android handsets that use rival Microsoft's Bing search function, according to two other people familiar with the discussion.

Google maintains that such clauses have always been part of the Android license, but some parties contend that Google has recently tightened its policies. Google has shown earlier indications of more control over their Android platform, recently holding back its tablet-optimized Honeycomb release.

The efforts to cut down on the increasing number of Android iterations addresses a common criticism of Google's platform, which has gained traction in the market due to its open-source nature, allowing a number of phone and software makers to use and tweak the system without paying royalty fees. By making Android open-source, it allowed businesses like HTC and Motorola to stake their claim in the smartphone market and let Google expand their search advertising business into the mobile market.

As Android's adoption picked up speed, the OS grew 9 percent market share in 2009 to an industry-leading 31 percent worldwide. But the downside to Android's growth has been fragmentation, where customers buying "Android" don't necessarily know what they're going to get in terms of capabilities and companies constantly retool apps and devices for each Android release. More quality control on Google's part may create a better experience for the customer, who could more easily upgrade Android devices.

But Google exerting more control may anger already irritated Android partners, which took up the system because it allowed for tweaks to functionality, branding and interfaces. Companies like Motorola and HP are already developing alternative systems to use on their smartphones.

The conflicts may be fueling complaints to the Justice Department, according sources close to the matter. Once welcoming of all partners, Google has also become much more discriminating, giving chip and device makers that cooperate a head start in bringing Android products to market, according to the executives to Bloomberg Businessweek, but locking out other companies that don't toe the line.

For consumers, Google's attempts to reduce fragmentation may be welcome, creating a more quality experience that makes buying the Android brand a known quantity. But for makers, it may look more like interference. Android's market share is likely to remain unaffected in the short term, but the dissatisfaction could create a market opportunity for a competitor as well as stir up trouble for a company that falls increasingly under federal scrutiny as it grows beyond its core search business.

Source | Mobiledia