It’s been a few months since Google made such a big splash with the announcement of Android, the open platform for cell phones that is going to set the handset world on its ear. The Open Handset Alliance that jumped behind Android put some muscle behind the new OS and got industry experts excited and ready to go. Since that announcement the reality of the task at hand has hit Google squarely in the face according to an article on C/NET. Google has discovered that the only way something like Android can work as a standard is to lock down many key aspects of the OS to prevent fragmentation caused by handset makers who are anxious to get devices on the market. It is imperative to avoid the fate that has befallen other platforms that intended to create a standard environment like Android so Google needs to define the standard in great detail to make sure that doesn’t happen. The problem with locking down many aspects of Android is that it begins to chew away at the openness of the platform. Google has now fully realized that they must lock down a major portion of Android and that it’s going to rankle the members of the alliance.
Different handset makers, carriers, and chipmakers have different ideasabout how Android phones should look, feel, and work. Everyone wantssomething that’s easy to implement, but that lets them develop theirown identity. Few companies in this industry really want to be anotherHP/Dell/Acer clone maker, beholden to Google for incremental advancesin features, capabilities, and presentation.
This drive to differentiate handsets by the producers of them is something that I wondered about back when the original Android announcement was made. If Android is a major standard how will the OEMs produce competing products with it that set themselves apart from the crowd? It sounds like Google is wrestling with this right now and why they’ve been fairly silent lately. I hope they figure out how to make everyone happy and get on with it.