Android has come a long way since the release of the T-Mobile G1. It has become a highly competitive and sought after operating system for both mid-level and high-end mobile phones, not to mention tablets and other devices. From the beginning of 2010 alone, Android has seen respectable growth in terms of market share, and has slowly closed in on its competitors. One problem with rapid growth, however, can be the inability of the market (and in the case of Android, manufacturers and application developers) to sustain the various iterations of the software.
As it stands, Android 1.5, 1.6, 2.0, and 2.1 are all floating around on varying devices. As you can imagine, this makes it quite difficult for developers to carry their applications across the respective versions, and even more difficult for manufacturers to pump out hardware that can support the latest versions requiring increasingly more power to operate efficiently. In the end, it's the consumer (who wants a device with the latest and greatest) that is ultimately affected by the fragmentation that has become the Android OS.
You may ask: If Google is so innovative, and Android so successful, is there not a way to end the fragmentation and usher in a more stable experience for eager consumers and loyal enthusiasts? The answer, according to people deemed by Engadget as those "who carry weight," is yes (or "we're gonna try real hard," at the very least).
There are two ways in which Google intends to accomplish this goal, according to Engadget. The first way is to separate many of Android's stock apps and "core components" from OS releases and instead allow consumers to download them from the Android Market. This includes apps such as Google Maps, but would also include components like keyboards and web browsers, allowing Google to take control of updates instead of relying on manufacturers or carriers. It also gives consumers the ability to customize their experience in their own time frame and at their discretion.
The second stride toward the end of fragmentation is a bit more natural. In the world of wireless technology, Android is a baby that had to grow up fast to compete. Now that it has reached a level of maturity, the need to pump out new versions at rocket speeds has decreased. Though I'm quite sure Google will do everything in its power to stay on the cutting edge of technology, it is expected with the release of Froyo (the next iteration of Android) that we will begin to see a more stable release of software over time.
It's easy as gadget enthusiasts to see Android as an innovative underdog (I say this even though I'm aware of who is backing the "underdog") that's fighting tooth and nail to make it to the top. But it's good to know Google recognizes that while innovation may get you there, stability should keep them "in it" for the long haul. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!