09/14/2010 04:39 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Google Must Stem the Flow of Android Fragmentation

Google's mobile operating system (OS) -- Android -- is one of the most successful mobile OS' in recent memory. According to Gartner -- Android sales for 2010 are 47 million devices worldwide and by 2014 we will be looking at 264 million Android devices. This is not a bad figure for an OS that had its initial released on October 21, 2008. Since then Google has rapidly deployed updates of the OS:
  • Android 1.1 -- February 09, 2009
  • Android 1.5 -- Cupcake on April 30, 2009
  • Android 1.6 -- Donut on September 15, 2009
  • Android 2.0/2/1 -- Éclair on October 26, 2009
  • Android 2.2 -- Froyo on May 20, 2010
Android 3.0 - Gingerbread - will be the latest installation of the popular OS. Gingerbread is expected to be release Q4 2010. In lock-step with the various updates there has been a rash of Android handsets and tablets. Handsets:Tablets:
  • Samsung Tab - Android 2.2  (Froyo)
  • Toshiba Folio 100 - Android 2.2 (Froyo )
  • Viewsonic ViewPad - Android 2.2 (Froyo)
These tablets are not yet available in the U.S. but are rumored to be released Q4 2010. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), mobile network operators (MNOs) and semi-conductor makers can't get enough of Android.

Symbian will remain at the top of Gartner's worldwide OS ranking due to Nokia's volume and the push into more mass market price points. However, by the end of the forecast period, the No. 1 spot will be contested with Android, which will be at a very similar share level.


Unfortunately, Android's explosive growth has caused issues within the space and confused consumers. is realizing that the viral adoption of its mobile OS has a side-effect -- fragmentation. According to Gartner -- Android 2.2 (Froyo) is on about 29% of active devices and Android 2.0/2.1 (Éclair) is on 41.7% as of September 1. Additionally, there appears to be no minimum hardware standard with handsets or tablets. This seems to be translating into a mixed user experience.

One of the pillars of Apple's success in the mobility space is its congruency. Google need not be a dictator -- the company should simply support minimum requirements. Perhaps - Google could tap the Open Handset Alliance to help it draft a list of minimum industry standards. Google is showing signs of bringing the industry into alignment with Gingerbread. Unfortunately, much of the logistics are being kept close to the vest. Why -- I am assuming that Schmidt simply does not want to upset the various OEMs, MNOs, semi-conductor makers and Android developers. After all -- this is an ecosystem and the most minor change could adversely affect Android's adoption.