12 Comments

Summary:

Some Android customers are fuming after discovering that Google Buzz isn’t fully functional on their handsets. The news underscores the growing problem of the splintering of Google’s mobile OS — and it’s a problem that will only increase as Android expands its global footprint.

Google Buzz has received a ton of hype as a potential Twitter/Facebook/Foursquare/Yelp-killer, but it’s only fully available on about 80 percent of Android devices on the market. And that’s got some of those older Android users furious.

As Android and Me pointed out this morning, only devices running Android 2.0 and higher can take full advantage of Buzz, Google’s latest attempt to be all things to all people on the social web. Which means only users with a Motorola Droid or Google Nexus One can enjoy Buzz — the mobile app doesn’t work on Android 1.6, which runs on T-Mobile USA’s G1 and myTouch. And the latest version of Google Maps requires at least Android 1.6, leaving gadgets like the Sprint Hero and Verizon Droid Eris behind.

Astoundingly, the app is fully supported by any iPhone, as Google itself touts here. Irate users have taken to Google Mobile’s online help forum, where the company says full support for Buzz is “coming soon to earlier versions” of Android.

But the backlash underscores a growing problem for Google’s mobile OS: Its open source nature is already giving birth to multiple versions of the platform, requiring developers to tweak applications for each version in order to reach the entire Android community. It’s a danger James over at jkOnTheRun pointed out way back in May, and one that Google acknowledged in December with a device dashboard for Android developers. And it’s a problem that’s only going to grow as Android’s footprint expands over the next few years.

Related content from GigaOM Pro:

Google Buzz’s True Home Is in the Enterprise

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  1. I’m really upset about this. One of the reasons I went with a Sprint Hero is because my life is so Google-centric and I thought it would integrate better. And they go and release an iPhone version before an android 1.5 version? There isn’t even any hardware involved with Buzz, like there is for maps navigation (which I’m also upset about). I think google really screwed up allowing this much fragmentation. Why can’t they at least wait to release an OS until its backwards compatible with ALL the handsets?

    1. Well the reason it works for the iphone because the browser suppports html5 something that only android 2 supports. Also Htc hero is not googles problem since its not a google experience phone. Blame that on Htc for basing sense u.I on 1.5. Really droid, nexus one, mytouch 3.g and g.1 are all funded by google. HTC is updating sense UI for the 2.1

  2. But the backlash underscores a growing problem for Google’s mobile OS: Its open source nature is already giving birth to multiple versions of the platform, requiring developers to tweak applications for each version in order to reach the entire Android community.

    While what your describing here is a real problem (fragmentation of Android), it actually has nothing to do with the backlash.

    First of all, the developers here should be Google’s own engineers and programmers. These aren’t third-party apps we’re talking about. This is Google Buzz here. Google should support its own operating system (Android) before supporting others (iPhone OS).

    Also, Android 2.0 and Android 2.1 aren’t splintered from Android 1.5 or 1.6. They’re simply newer official releases. Nothing to do with open source. Nothing to do with fragmentation. It’s the equivalent of Apple releasing software that will work on Leopard and Snow Leopard but not Jaguar.

    Of course, no Mac user should still be using Jaguar, but plenty of Android users who bought phones within the past year (even just a few months ago) have no choice but to run Android 1.6. They cannot upgrade without 1) rooting their phones and 2) losing functionality. On the MyTouch 3G, for example, there are no Eclair rooted roms that having a working camcorder.

  3. Same thing as Matt here. I own the Sprint Hero, and although I really enjoy the Android experience it gives me, I increasingly feel left out of the greater Android ecosystem. So far we are missing out on Google Navigation, Goggles and now Buzz. (Also, Urbanspoon. Not sure why that one stings so much.)

    I know, I know… it is more in HTC’s hands than Google’s. In hindsight, I probably would have been happier going with a phone not locked into Sense UI and its separate update schedule, even though it is slicker in some ways.

  4. M. Mudassir Azeemi Thursday, February 11, 2010

    I did the ranting on it too here on my blog:

    http://blog.bongeek.com/post/381399831/user-experience-driven-by-mobile-network-operator

    I basically proposing an idea of keeping the ‘core’ from Google only and rest of the UI Enhancement from the Operator / Manufacturers.


    I think the best way to approach this problem is let the Google give away the Android updates from there channel solely, and then if Mobile Network Operator and/or Manufacturer decide to put the ‘layer’ on it (see HTC Sense UI, MotorolaBlur, Sony Rachael UI, and Samsung TouchWiz UI for instance) they can ask there device users’ to download that ‘layer’ from their website. Only those who are interested will do it, and I think if your layer is so “Average Joe Friendly” they will for sure get it and it will fly from your server like a hot-cake.

  5. odd that this is the first app I have tired to install on my G1 that was too good for my version of Android. I never had this problem before.

    For Buzz to inserted into my gmail experience uninvited, then to not work on a G1 is really odd.

    BTW, why do you say that 80% of Android phones out there are already on the 2.0 OS? Since droid just came out as the proto launch of 2.0, it seems the ration should be about 20% of the phones tops would have 2.0.

  6. Google Gets Angry Buzz Over Lack of Full Android Support | Motorola Android Thursday, February 11, 2010

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  7. I have an Android Eris, and I am a little disapointed that I cant get Gbuzz. How much longer do we Eris users have to wait?

  8. The Android experience is getting even shittier up here in Canada. Not only do we not get access to paid Market apps, but the first provider to sell the HTC Magic and Dream (Rogers) still hasn’t updated us past ver 1.5. And every patch they do manage to push out for 1.5 just breaks something else. Its a sad, sad joke. At least we have lots of snow for our winter olympics.

  9. Well, it is pretty daft of Google, really. But fortunately, there is a way to run Buzz pretty well on Android 1.5/1.6. It involves using the Dolphin browser which is available free on the Android Market – it got Buzz working fine on my HTC Hero. Just read this: http://www.cellpassion.com/news/2010/02/14/google-buzz-on-android-1-5-1-6-handsets-.aspx

  10. More Buzz on Google Buzz – A Question for Marketers | MarketingProfessor.com Monday, February 15, 2010

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