It’s become easy for keen mobile watchers, ourselves included, to complain about Google Android’s issues with fragmentation. The recent HTC Desire debacle has shown that there is definitely a problem with the manner in which hardware manufacturers treat Google’s ace mobile software. There appears little desire (ahem), to keep phones kicking for long enough, with the focus evidently on getting new customers rather than caring for current ones.
While this, and wider issues surrounding the release of devices using older iterations of Android, are issues for power users, the public at large seem broadly unconcerned. The evidence?
Android chief Andy Rubin’s tweet yesterday stating that the Big G was now activating a colossal 500,000 phones a day, with 4.4 per cent growth week-on-week. If the OS grows at the same rate, Google will be adding a million phones every day by the end of 2011. Impressive for an OS that only existed on one phone three years ago.
Ultimately, it appears that while hundreds of Facebook users complained about HTC’s initial decision to give up on Gingerbread for the Desire, hundreds of thousands really couldn’t care less.
Does Android let you access email easily? Yes. Is its keyboard assured? Yes. Is it intuitive and loaded to the gills with apps? Yes. Essentially, that’s all that matters to those who want to join the smartphone revolution but couldn’t give a hoot about new software or the speed of the processor.
New adopters want simplicity and, more importantly, a wallet-friendly price. While iOS is unable to offer the latter, Google’s breadth of smartphones means everyone from tweens to techie types can get involved.
However, that’s not to say this new figure masks the issues that Google is facing. As users get deeper into the experience and look towards replacing their Android device, issues of fragmentation and software builds will become more prevalent in the mainstream. It’s simply a case of education.
As more people become aware of these things, the more they will question Google. At the moment, it’s a nascent problem that concerns only those who live and breathe mobile. But in the next couple of years, it will become as vital as what operating system runs on your PC.
By that point, Android’s growth will surely have slowed somewhat. But for now, Google is proving the naysayers and the doubters wrong. It’s not about the power users for the Big G, it’s all about the mass market.