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August 16, 2012

Fragmented, Indeed



AVC published a post yesterday about how the fragmentation in Android is actually a blessing rather than a curse (or both depending on how you look at it). He visualized a world were three out of the top four consumer technology companies were running Android. He decided to include Facebook in this imagined world. Thoughts on that later. MG then responded with the argument that, although all that sounds great--it's not actually the case. And I agree. OEM's carrying Android will decide whether their devices receive the latest updates or not--and that can cause problems for apps and developers if internal testings drags or fails. 

The market leader in Android distribution is obviously Samsung, and I see that imagined world consisting of only Samsung and Google. Like Siegler opined, that's good for the Android ecosystem: less devices, but less fragmentation. From reading Fred's post, it's the seamless porting over of apps that he relishes. The joy of getting the same experience on his Nexus 7 as well as his Kindle Fire. That seems like an unpleasant feat for developers to maintain, if OEM's are continuously customizing it for their environment. Marco Arment published an interesting article last year about Amazon possibly taking over Android distribution because of their retail foundation. After all, that's what they do. I'm not saying all OEM's will build their own version of an Android app store, but it definitely raises some questions on whether developers can maintain the experience and functionality across all variants of Android.

As I mentioned earlier, Fred's post included Facebook in this imagined world. If and when Facebook comes out with a phone, I don't think it's going to be running on the Android OS. They want to compete with Google, not help them. I still believe the rumors that Facebook will one day build it's own search engine--so why send more users their way? They already have the data to build their search engine. But the point I wanted to make was that, the Facebook OS would be the perfect way for them to launch their battle on the "two OS world", as Fred describes the current mobile world. They already have Facebook Messenger for texting, Messages for email, Skype (integrated) for video calling, and last but not the least their own App Center

I know RIM was a non-factor in his imagined world, but this world may have been restricted to the US borders. RIM is still popular in Europe, Africa and other parts of the world where they make most of their sales. They have 70 million users and the Blackberry is a respected brand. I wouldn't dismiss the the thought of Amazon partnering/buying RIM to compete on their own terms. RIM has the mobile base, Amazon has the content. Win-win.

Let's see how things pan out.

Sent with Writer, from Ed's iPad

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