As the title suggests, I'm about to take on the "fragmentation" thing head-on. But, instead of complaining about it and wondering, "Why, oh why" does it keep getting worse, I'm going to tackle it from another perspective. While Google and all the manufacturers who have embraced Google as their main go-to mobile operating system seem perfectly content with the way that they do business, there's no denying that hardware can't keep up with software, and there's just no way around that. So, instead of actually letting the word fragmentation be a negative aspect for Google, the Mountain View-based company should actually start using it as a good thing.

That's right, turn that negative word right around, and make it something that the company can actually use to their advantage. Or, at least, to make fragmentation something that the general consumer can understand and even appreciate. And there's an easy way to do that, actually: follow in Microsoft's steps.

Before we get to that point, let's be clear: fragmentation is a terrible thing, because it upsets the customer. And for all those editorials out there saying it isn't a big deal, that it doesn't actually affect you in any way, well, I don't agree. And I don't agree because of the situation that Motorola has put all purchasers of recently released DROID phones in. As Taylor put it, their update time table is absurd, and unless Motorola can release the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update before the second quarter of 2012, all those angry customers are going to keep being angry.

But that is the nature of Android, unfortunately. And, as I've said in the past, our phones aren't meant to actually appreciate over time. You buy the phone with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and that's what you get. Unless the company's make some kind of comment that you'll be upgraded at some point (like Motorola and HTC did), then you shouldn't actually ever think you'll get an upgrade to the next batch of software. Yeah, even if you have the most high-end device out there, that next software version isn't guaranteed for you. (It should be, but it isn't.) Manufacturers make money by selling phones, so making you want to buy the next new phone with the latest and greatest software makes more sense for them, even if it's not a lot of fun for the consumer.

And that's why Google needs to slow things down, and actually take hold of the reigns. And, yes, follow in the footsteps of Microsoft. You see, Microsoft has this thing figured out, as far as fragmentation goes. They've already said that the next update, Tango, is going to draw a pretty distinct line between devices out there. And right there, that's where the first bit of fragmentation will come in, but it won't be a bad thing. Tango is meant for a certain market, for certain devices, and then there's another update for all the other phones out there, known as Apollo.

Android needs this. Because it's remarkably frustrating that while Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is the current version of Android, and it is readily available to manufacturers to put on phones, that these companies are still happy to launch Android 2.3 handsets, and never bat an eye. So, something needs to change.

And here's the plan, Google: you make Android 2.3 Gingerbread for low-end devices only; you make Android 3.x for tablet devicesonly; you make Android 4.0 the standard stock version of Android for all mid-range to high-end devices only; and then you makeAndroid 5.0 (Jelly Bean?) for high-end devices only. You make these very real, very distinct software version for a set market of devices, and you make fragmentation work for you.

We know that Android 3.x is the "tablet OS" for Google's Android, and they should keep that. Don't add Android 4.0 to tablets: just add 4.0 features to Android 3.x tablets, and call it good. Keep Android 3.x the tablet OS. And make 5.0 the high-end version of Android, meant specifically for the flagship devices out there. Android 4.x for the phones with high-end specs but not flagship status, as well as the mid-range handsets out there. And then, finally, you make the bottom of the barrel the previous version of Android, or Android 2.3. You draw the lines, Google, and you set the guidelines.

Stop letting the word fragmentation mar the image of Google, and start making it work for you. Start taking control, because having so many different angry customers is just getting old.


Don't forget to VOTE! Each week, PhoneDog Fans vote for their #1 smartphone in the Official Smartphone Rankings. Vote now and contribute to the industry's most relevant weekly ranking charts

Related posts

Comments & discussions  

79 Reactions to this post

"Is fragmentation a good thing or bad thing?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
Thanks for your participation! :)

Scot Milo
Scot Milo well maybe you should read the forums more..there are millions of people complaining about updates and a bunch of other issues regarding android lol..today me & my fiance decided were done with android..we gave her galaxy to a homeless man, went to the apple store and got a 4S..we should have Dont this earlier we would have saved hundreds of dollars on crappy laggy devices that never receive updates. the people in the apple store didn't even know what android was lol haha..i just told them it's some piece of s*** OS that broke people settle for because they cant afford quality.
Danu Carrión Perales
Danu Carrión Perales @scot milo as a phone salesman only like 10% of people who I activate android phones care about updates. In fact, most of them dont even know what gingerbread means or is. Don't be such a dumb ass. Only phone geeks care about that and most of them root and install custom roms or just buy the Google device, very simple. That argument of fragmentation being such an issue only was implemented by Steve fag and stuffed it up to peoples eyes and noses to try and move them away from android. The point stands. Trying to convince people is such an issue will be pointless because most don't even know or care. In fact I have even received people with iphones with iOS 3 still and they don't eve know what I'm talking about when i tell them to update their phone.
Eduardo Ordaz
Eduardo Ordaz @Scot well who went off topic? @Paul There Is one word to describe IOS and that is boring.
Chances N Michael Thompson
Chances N Michael Thompson Might be good idk
Ayoub Hage
Ayoub Hage @kev is there a mac version to flash
Scot Milo
Scot Milo lol you fan-droids get so emotional & I am a fan of apple products :) can we please stick to the topic?? this article is about androids serious fragmentation issues lol..BTW this conversation was going great before you decided to come trolling along
Scot Milo
Scot Milo oh here comes the troll @tom tebow
Paul Alexandru
Paul Alexandru Android can be described by one single word: LAG
Rick Conrad
Rick Conrad Its all political BS within companies. How you think Samsung nexus got ics? They were highest bidder lol give them props for building the cheapest crappy phone possible and getting ics. Now look at there sales. Best advice don't get antsy for an upgrade. Wait for the 1 has everything you want. I might have high hopes but think I'm guna wait awhile see is galaxy journal is real? Hopefully will come with ics and razr maxx battery.
Eduardo Ordaz
Eduardo Ordaz Apple does not have the right to Sue. Apple needs to understand that there will always be competition and they will do it better. Apple is showing weakness because they can't accept the fact that the competition has better products so they Sue them. Apple is weak because they never believe in competition. Apple just sues the competition and that's not right.
Tommy Snyder
Tommy Snyder And only a 3.5in screen
Tommy Snyder
Tommy Snyder Scot Milo is the biggest apple fanboy he will argue about fermentation for hours just like he did last week when in all reality he's bored with iOS BC its been exactly the same besides tells since the first iPhone
Frank Porter
Frank Porter Oh, but Apple's legal team will take care of all that. I don't know why Samsung and other manufacturers allow themselves to be victims like this. Why Samsung doesn't take back some pride for Christ's sake nad stop doing business with a company who continously files lawsuit after lawsuit on you. Why they and Google don't take more of an offensive tactic towards Apple and stop having to play defense al the time. Yeah, I know Samsung and HTC have made attempts at getting Apple back, but it always seems to happen after Apple sues them first and I just don't feel like the Android community as a whole takes this as seriously as they should. It's not gonna matter whether the Iphone is really the best device out there or not, if eventually no one else is legally allowed to inevate because of some vague or phantom patent that Apple claims has been infringed upon.
Eduardo Ordaz
Eduardo Ordaz Even when apple releases something new it always has issues from the start. Believe what u want to believe the iPhone isn't number one and never will b has long has the competition makes something better. IOS is getting rusty. And boring.
Eduardo Ordaz
Eduardo Ordaz Some obviously didn't pay attention on what Google is trying to attempt here. The holo theme is suppose to speed up the process. Its the carriers fault. And Scot all u said was just u talking. I have never experienced no lag. Haha Malware on the market Google actually doesn something that prevents us from sideloading apps to our phones. Besides Malware doesn't even target the official Android market most of the Malware came from 3rd party app markets. Well IOS isn't that immune to Malware and apple doesn't let security software in it u guys don't believe it but it takes one bad app to get in and affects more phones than u can't count there are bad apps that can get in the app store without apple even knowing about it. The entire time I have never experienced any Malware nor the people I know. And I do remember that IOS apps crash more. Apple doesn't even care about u they only care about your money apple Is just evil. They should going down to oblivion. IOS is boring its the same icons and icons nothing else. Nothing changes its old.
Frank Porter
Frank Porter oops, kinda messed up that last part. It should have said "lessen the number of average joes from buying these phones" That's about all I have to say about this. This debate can go on and on if y'all want. You'll just be spinning your wheels though and inevidably calling one another names due to differences and opinion or personal prefrence for one OS over another. That aspect of these discussions is what get's old in my opinion. The issue itself is important and needs addressing. If only it were possible to do so without devolving into silly flamewars.
Frank Porter
Frank Porter I would have to agree, that most people are oblivious to what Android version they're device is on. Hey what do you have there, an Iphone or a Droid? Haha Try and get specific with them on exactly what your phone actually is and they just stare at you with a dumb look on their face. It's this complacnecy and ignorance by the masses that allow for carriers and manufacturers to to do this to us. I'd also add whether anyone agrees or not, that if it weren't so easy and cheap for people to purcahse these high powered devices thanks to carrier subsidization, we wouldn't have as many clueless individuals snatching up devices they barely know how to use. You'd think a bit harder about whether or not you really wanted or needed a phone like this if you had to pay full price for it. So that would trim the herd quite a bit. And as an added bonus, it would greatly lessen the need for all the bloated UI's cause part of the reason they are around is to make the devices easier for less tach savy people to use them. The other reason is of crourse to differentiate devices from one antoher but that's just a seceondary motive. So should Google take firmer control over this matter and start dictating some standards? Absolutely! But I don't think they will, for the reasons sated above. The more they try and crack down the more bitching and moaning you'll hear from everyone about how they're becoming more and more like Apple and Microsoft. The PR backlash would be too toxic for them to do that. The exosystem is what it is. I don't like it anymore than the next guy but until something radical happens to lessen the number of tech savy people to buy phones like these, the minority who do give a damn about timely updates are just gonna have to be more choosey about the devices we buy or read up on how to unlcok and root, to keep your devices alive as long as possible.
Benjamin Padilla
Benjamin Padilla Oh yeah, Zach Cline has major Android envy. That's why he always comments on Android articles.
Benjamin Padilla
Benjamin Padilla Scot. Fragmentation is really not that big off an issue. The only reason some people talk about it is because those some people think it's an issue(Mostly gadget nerds). How about you take a survey of 1000 RANDOM people in the U.S. who own an Android phone and ask questions like: What Android version are you on? Is Android fragmented? What's the latest version of Android? Etc, etc... Let's see how many blank stares you get. The percentage of people who actually care is VERY low. I'm guessing between 5 and 15 percent.
Paul Armendarez
Paul Armendarez @Scott milo GET A IPHONE !!!!!! The people that care the most about updates root and install custom roms . Its that simple.
Zach Cline
Zach Cline Android is not better than iOS . Lmao
Eriq Blaque
Eriq Blaque Suvkscowballs!!!!!
Scot Milo
Scot Milo Google= fragmentation.Truth is most android phone will never see 4.0 (latest version). If not you can always go through the process of ROOTING and voiding your warranty or possibly "bricking your phone". For me I want a phone "just works" right out of the box no hacks, mods, tweaks, roots, ect. enjoy an awful app market full of malware, a ton of low-quality applications, viruses, pornography (that your children have unlimited access to), mediocre games, & much much more. Enjoy a device that has random shut downs, lags, freezes, force closes, spyware, bloatware, OEM user interface that slows down the original OS, manufacture defects, carrier issues, tons of phones made out of plastic & cheap material (Samsung), HORRIBLE BATTERY LIFE. Also android has tons of different app markets in which users can steal the hard work of many developers (amazon market for android, kindle market for android, T-mobile marketplace, Verizon app & game marketplace, Vonda-phone app market, Metro PCS marketplace, and much much more. The are tons of ways to download free paid apps on android integrated withing the Google marketplace (download "four shared") This means hardworking developers DONT GET PAID. Also did i forget to mention your Android device will become obsolete within weeks due to the mass production of Android devices daily. Enjoy an older version of the Android OS due to Google coming out with a new version every 3 months. Remember its not about quantity, its about quality. By the time most Android device get "ice cream sandwich", " 4.5 strawberry shortcake" will be out. I wish you the best luck on trying to get your OEM's to push out updates to at least 50% of android phones :) but I can't blam you for going with android. it is very cost effective ($50 pre-paid Android phones available) closing statement.....enjoy your 1.7 GHz dual core 7.8" super + amoled 2.2 froyo device that wont be getting gingerbread until next year.
Devin Ray Hernandez
Devin Ray Hernandez i think jelly been is a great idea but they need to wait until people get used to ice cream sandwich
Scot Milo
Scot Milo This article sound great if it were the case, however, it is written from many perspectives that are not entirely all credible. 1. ALL manufactures do not update their devices (see article below). 2. The user should not have to root, tweak, or modify a device in order to get the best experience (most users have no idea what this is). 3. Google's hands-off approach has led to tons of viruses & malware within the application market. 4. there are"high end" android phones that came out less then a year ago that are still running 2.2-2.3..meanwhile 4.0 is already out and soon there will be 5.0. this is a huge mess for developers and consumers. please take a look at the article below http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/27/charted-android-fragmentation/
Eduardo Ordaz
Eduardo Ordaz @Scot. http://briefmobile.com/android-fragmentation-will-never-be-a-problem-heres-why And here's why its not a problem. Since most phones r on 2.3 gingerbread.
Ben Bartholomew
Ben Bartholomew both
Scot Milo
Scot Milo it must be an issue if people keep talking about it & where are you guys getting your facts from when you say "most people" I would like to see some articles please if you don't mind.
Eduardo Ordaz
Eduardo Ordaz Scot. Paul is right most people do not care about the updates. Most people do t even know what version of OS they are on. Google sends the updates to the carriers and guess what they take so long to send them. That's what the holo theme is for so updates could come faster to the devices.
Eduardo Ordaz
Eduardo Ordaz @Milo Already did. Plus I agree on what Paul says most don't care about the updates nor most don't even know what version of OS they are on. Plus that's why Google made the holo theme so updates could come faster. This isn't such a really bad thing most phone run on 2.3. Its not Google's fault its the carriers.
Scot Milo
Scot Milo @paul the user is forced to buy a certain device in order to receive the latest & greatest version of the OS?? that doesn't seem right..& you say the "average Joe" does not care about updates well according to what facts? as you can see many people do care about receiving updates other wise this wouldn't even be an issue to discuss.
Paul Armendarez
Paul Armendarez Get a nexus if you don't want to worry about updates . But the average Joe don't care or even know what version of android there on.
Natasha Szabo
Natasha Szabo are you on crack? It's like trying to say Global warming is actually a good thing.
Scot Milo
Scot Milo @eduardo you may want to take a look at this.. http://www.phonedog.com/2011/11/09/how-deep-is-android-s-fragmentation-problem/
Eduardo Ordaz
Eduardo Ordaz Some people think that its all about the updates its not. There are reason why. ICS didn't work with older phones because it was inconsistent. Most phones run Gingerbread now. U guys blame Google for it u guys blame the OEMs for it. Its not their fault the one that has caused most of the problems are the stupid carriers. U people blame Google for it its not their fault its the carriers because the updates come to them. It's like blaming fifa for not putting replay tech on soccer field it's not fifas fault for that it'd the lack of training in different that train the refs. Its not Google's fault its the carriers fault. There is one suspect here and its the carriers Google doesn't gives the update to the phones they are in charge of sending the updates to the carriers and the carriers just stop it.
Dietrich Brown
Dietrich Brown Bad
Jasmyn Knight
Jasmyn Knight iPhone : 1 Android : 0
Tyrone Rupert
Tyrone Rupert I was big on android being a technician and all but that fragmentation is getting way out of control but more then that. The software is not stable for nothing. I got my brother brand new out the box Verizon 2.2 android and sent a texted message and it force closed. That don't make any sense so we both switch to ios devices. Haven't looked back yet. Because of the business instead of making phone that work. Android will not have it was in the future. They believe in quantity instead of quality.
Eduardo Ordaz
Eduardo Ordaz haha people dont care about those updates.
Marcus Bell
Marcus Bell As far as updates go google needs to handle it accordingly. I would hate having bought a phone and then they come out with another phone with a better firmware and I can't get it because google fails to distribute it. I'm a IPhone user and I believe that if android had the update system like apple then this problem would not exist and I don't know what's preventing google from doing so. It's probably because they make android a little to open there's so many different variations of android I lost count. They let it get out of hand and no ones gunna try and track down every manufacture to try and get everyone a freaking firmware update it's just not gunna happen. This is just something there gunna have to learn from you can't make something so open it loses order...
Derrick Woods
Derrick Woods Blame google, blame the carriers, and blame the handset makers. All three are at fault.
Scot Milo
Scot Milo lol you fan-droids are something else..i'm done
Eduardo Ordaz
Eduardo Ordaz its just the carriers its their fault.
Scot Milo
Scot Milo again...it's Google's operating system so they must take RESPONSIBILITY..stop trying to justify androids fragmentation issue..like i said i have been an android users for the past 4 years and even i realized this was a major problem..and you may want do some research because according to statistics 44.4% of android phones are running gingerbread 2.3 & the 3GS did receive IOS 5 and were talking about a pone that came out in 2008 (Apples 3 years update guarantee) compared to android phones that just came out last year that are still waiting on "gingerbread"
Terrance Thompson
Terrance Thompson You know you are dressed!! Nice bro!
Eduardo Ordaz
Eduardo Ordaz most people dont care about updates they only care about the phone and for what it does/has.
Chris Taylor
Chris Taylor Who cares? Android is still better than iOS.
Scot Milo
Scot Milo lets blame OEM's even though it's Google's operating system.
Huey Liggins
Huey Liggins Rooting and custom rims shouldn't be the answer. When a company Puts out a device they should give it as it should be and should support it so long as its available to buy. Now I won't be surprised if jellybean came out soon seeing as to how a lot of quad core phones are being released. But I want the galaxy note. If it can't support jelly bean then I feel there's no point in getting it. And even if it does your telling me that I have to root my phone to get it at a reasonable time?
Tyler Chamberlain
Tyler Chamberlain Blame companies like HTC for putting their bloated frameworks and other bloat on our devices which causes the fragmentation in the fist place. They wont stop doing until there are enough people complaining about it.
Danu Carrión Perales
Danu Carrión Perales http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OLPP_c5Bgs&feature=related
Derrick Woods
Derrick Woods It's sad that people are already talking about android 5.0 when only 1% of users have 4.0
Scot Milo
Scot Milo okay i guess were going to play the blame game..
Danu Carrión Perales
Danu Carrión Perales usually its carriers fault on those updates. for example on my sgs samsung released an update via samsung kies to android 2.3.6 while on tmobile the same phone custumized by them (vibrant) still is on 2.2.1
Kev Baldwin
Kev Baldwin On SG2
Kev Baldwin
Kev Baldwin Lol it's called flashing & custome roms... I've been running icecream sandwich 4.0.3 for a while ;-)
Scot Milo
Scot Milo yea i been through that before & to be honest i don't feel like the user should be forced to "root" their phone to get the best experience..& we can play the blame game all day but face it Android is Google OS and they need to take responsibility for the distribution. start laying down some rules & guidelines..
Danu Carrión Perales
Danu Carrión Perales buy an international version of the galaxy s devices and mostly you will have the latest software... i have an i9000 with ics right now. samsung has made ics for i9100 already but havent made it official. im sick of phonedog posting this topic over and over again. they keep on shoving it into peoples eyes like its something so negative to like move people away from android.
Derrick Woods
Derrick Woods Google needs to do something. This waiting is bs for people that fork out the money for a high end phone. I love android and i will stay with them but this as been an issue since day one.
Frank Mendoza
Frank Mendoza Blame manufacturers for releasing to many phones that they can't keep updates for all of them and carriers for buying them from manufacturers. If people don't wanna wait like I do root the phone and hope cm9 is available for your phone it works great on my gs2
Scot Milo
Scot Milo lol
Ayoub Hage
Ayoub Hage I'm still waiting for the ICS update now were talking jellybean :(
Scot Milo
Scot Milo @sly we understand that but is that suppose to happen within weeks, months, or years?? because it seems to be happening pretty fast on android..
Josh Lazenby
Josh Lazenby I have expressed my opinion on this before. It's not necessarily a negative thing. Low end phones are low end phones and are, of course, not going to be able to offer the same experience as a high end device. Its great that phones at the price point which usually only has dumbphones and cheap junk can still offer a smartphone experience. I know if I was paying like $10 for a phone I would prefer a phone with Android 1.6 or 2.0 over a phone that only does calls and texts. Fragmentation isn't a big deal, and is only an issue because anti Android people make it one. The only time this is even slightly an issue... it's more of an update rollout timeframe issue on high end devices then fragmentation.
Mark Schroeder
Mark Schroeder The worst part of fragmentation is best exampled by Chrome. The release a nice browser that everyone is envious of and for right now only 1% of Android users can use it. That is where this fragmentation causes a pain in most Android users sides
Sly Agyen
Sly Agyen No matter what your stand on fragmentation is, it's inevitable. As technology progresses, so will softwares. Thus creating an ecosystem in which new softwares are optimized for newer, more powerful processors leaving old products with lower power behind. Thus creating an inevitable fragmentation.
Scot Milo
Scot Milo android fragmentation is really getting out of hand. I stopped buying android devices because I was tired of worrying if my phone would receive updates & this is coming from an huge android user (since the G1)
Nain El Fuego Romero
Nain El Fuego Romero Bad. But my phone fucks the iPhone so hard. So it doesn't matter to me.
Jason Ramos
Jason Ramos If you want the latest software, buy the dev device. End of story. I got tired of the bullshit from manufacturers promising updates only be to pissed off when they would release new phones with the updates instead. So I said fuck that and bought me a Galaxy Nexus
Ryan Gardner
Ryan Gardner Standards need to be made. Simple as that.
Craigg Alexander Jones
Craigg Alexander Jones do they have any other choice? i mean ICS was ment to stop this if im not wrong, and guess what my phone still has "fragment" problems. they dont even have a chouce cuz they chose the rout of "open source" but hey fuck it, it is what it is, love me some android :)
Marti Ruiz
Sebastian Scalera
Sebastian Scalera B-A-D
Christian Sanchez
Christian Sanchez Why can't we just leave it at "It's a bad thing"? Seriously, it sucks and we all know it. Move on.
Corey Brown
Corey Brown Yes they need to
Jim Wang
Jim Wang they should really limit on how many devices they make and set a minimum of the specs
Hansel Starley
Hansel Starley Fragmetantion is no that bad. Some phones are better than other, Android's retarted update system is the problem here. Phone's should not be shipping with Gingerbread period.
John Cruz
John Cruz its bad anyone can see that
Jonathan Steele
Jonathan Steele here we go again.

Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos

Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions

This weeks "People's Choice Rankings" best smartphones
People's Choice Rankings

See all hot devices