The sheer range of permutations of Android is a strength of the platform and not the weakness it’s often purported to be, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has claimed.
The raft of OS iterations on Android phones currently out in the wild has led to criticism from developers who face challenges ensuring their wares are compatible, as well as from users who have found their handsets won’t run the newest apps.
In a Q&A session at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2012 expo in Las Vegas yesterday, Schmidt played down the problem. Rebranding ‘fragmentation’ as ‘differentiation”, he claimed the huge selection of Android phones on offer has been a positive development for consumers.
Competition among manufacturers as they work to ensure their customisations give their handsets the edge over rivals has also driven the platform as a whole to improve, he stated.
Schmidt said: "Differentiation means that you have a choice and the people who are making the phones, they're going to compete on their view of innovation, and they're going to try and convince you that theirs is better than somebody else.
"The great thing is if you don't like one phone, you can choose another. You're not bound to certain hardware."
Pressed as to whether Google will, as has been claimed, look to clamp down on fragmentation with the new Ice Cream Sandwich iteration by cutting the freedom afforded to manufacturing partners, Schmidt was similarly bullish.
He added: “We want to get everybody under Ice Cream Sandwich, but we absolutely allow our developers to add or change anything, as long as they're not breaking anything."
Stats from Google revealed that currently just 0.6 per cent of Android phones are running Ice Cream Sandwich. Gingerbread and Froyo account for 55 per cent and 30.4 per cent respectively.