Android Steps Closer to Fragmentation

Wind River announced today a commercial version of the Android platform that comes with pre-integrated apps and global support and is optimized for Texas Instruments’ OMAP 3. But the offering represents one more step toward a dangerously fragmented Android universe.

The product is targeted at device manufacturers as a faster, more efficient alternative to building a platform from the ground up. It is a validated, fully compliant OS based on the latest versions of the Android SDK, Wind River said. It comes with software from partners including Adobe, PacketVideo and Red Bend Software, and features enhanced Android user interface and personalization options that enable carriers and manufacturers to present their brands on-screen.

Wind River’s platform underscores the appeal of open-source OSes, which allow developers to access the source code and tweak it as they see fit based on a variety of factors. But as James noted back in May, that flexibility is a double-edged sword, potentially giving birth to a host of flavors that look and feel differently from handset to handset and carrier to carrier. That means we could see Android updates that aren’t immediately available to all phones using the OS, forcing manufacturers to choose between modifying the updates for every phone or leaving some handsets without an upgrade entirely. And that could be a huge drag on a mobile OS that is enjoying an impressive amount of momentum.

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