back to article Android 'splits' into the Good and the lovechild of Bad and Ugly

Android was everywhere at Mobile World Congress last week - there seems to be no stopping Google's mobile operating system that's now almost as ubiquitous as a colour display. But the success hides the platform's problems, insists one analyst. Former Nomura analyst Richard Windsor paints a picture of increasing fragmentation …


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  1. AceRimmer

    Almost 2 years old?

    XP was a lot older than that before it got replaced :)

    The analysts also forgot the second division, those who root and flash a custom rom and those who don't

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Almost 2 years old?

      XP was built on a fairly mature NT platform and had lots of service packs over the years.

    2. ratfox

      Those who root and flash a custom rom

      Analysts don't usually bother with slivers of less than 0.1% of the market…

      1. AceRimmer

        Re: Those who root and flash a custom rom

        2 of the top paid apps are for rooted phones,

        I agree that the overall market share might not be big, but it is a big slice of the market share that counts i.e. users who are tech savvy and cash rich

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Those who root and flash a custom rom


          That's an interesting stat. Do you think that's because lots of people are rooting Android? After all it was pushed heavily by geeks (when it was still quite flaky but with great possibilities. Or is it that not many people are paying for Android apps (so a smallish number of real enthusiasts dominate)? Or worse, are most Android customers not even going to the Play store, as they just took the phone they were given?

      2. BillG

        Re: Those who root and flash a custom rom

        Turns out that between 15% and 20% of Android users are rooted, most of them teenagers. Take a look at the download stats on Google Play apps that say the device must be rooted.

        What makes a low-end Android gadget such a crappy experience? The cheapo hardware can't keep up with the demands of the software, we're told.

        Actually, it's when the phone manufacturer loads a low-end phone with branded crap that can't meet the demands of the hardware.

        I've taken crappy phones with lousy reviews like the LG Optimus V, rooted them, removed the carrier-branded apps and the phone runs like a dream. So the phone has the hardware capability. Lots of times it's just two apps you have to remove, 1) the carrier's "My Account" apps that run in the background, slowing the phone down, and 2) the "My Videos" app that runs carrier-provided Pay-Per-View video apps which also runs in the background. Both these apps snoop what you are doing. Anybody think Chinese-branded Android distis respect privacy?

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Almost 2 years old?

      Yeah, but my 2003 XP laptop did most of the same things as my Win 7 now

      machine does, and in much the same way. Mobile devices have been evolving more over the same period, though they now seem to be settling down a bit.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Almost 2 years old?

      Also XP was continually getting security updates (some would say it needed them rather more than Android...), but people still on Gingerbread are rather more importantly often not getting any of Google's fixes for known bugs either.

      It would be nice for hardware to get updated with the latest-and-greatest software, up to the point that the new software breaks the hardware. I'd say that iOS 4 put a strain on the iPad 1 (too little RAM), but improved it. Whereas iOS 5 made the device worse, and so it shouldn't have got the upgrade. And with Apple not allowing downgrades that's bad. Windows Phone 7's updates over 18 months actually made the phones quicker (as well as adding new features) - as they actually reduced the hardware requirements. As WP8 needed dual cores, and did multi-tasking it would have been madness to allow upgrades - even if it did generate bad publicity.

      Some of the attacks on Android over updates are unfair, but a lot of them are very fair. And are less Google's fault as the manufacturers. But Google not only should have seen it coming, but even if they didn't have no excuse after 2 years of it being such an obvious problem. There's quite a lot of Android malware out there now, it's only a matter of time before something big sweeps through the ecosystem. Suddenly that comparison to XP looks rather unfortunate.

      Worse, not only is no-one ready for it, but Google will really struggle to fix it. They don't have the Windows Update tool available to them, and the current model means the handset manufacturers won't be updating old kit. Google need to plan for the possible PR disaster ahead. Look how Microsoft's reputation has barely improved in the public mind 10 years after they'd mostly fixed XP. And Android is still one choice of many, not yet in a monopoly position to protect it.

  2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. ContentsMayVary

      Re: Evolution in action

      >>We've noticed that upcoming communications powerhouse Huawei makes Google almost invisible on its flagship smartphones.

      He has't tried to install any software from the Play store, then? I see...

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Evolution in action

      Different Linux distros are suited to different users - embedded, supercomputer, desktop, mobile, bleeding edge, conservative (with a small c), secure and so on.


      Hmmmm. That gives me an idea. Blue desktop theme, Margaret Thatcher wallpaper, 1950s fonts, Arthur Scargill being punched by Boris Johnson screensaver... What should I call it? Toryx perhaps?

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      2. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: Evolution in action

        Now unlike Start8 I'd happily would be willing to chuck £5.00 for this, and it would be worth every Pence. The only way this could be improved upon is if you can manipulate Mrs. Thatcher into bitchslapping some little 4-eyed brat in the face, and stealing their Milk. Now the would be WIN!

      3. Alan Esworthy
        Thumb Up

        Re: Evolution in action

        Think i18n and you could make a pile of money selling country-specific themes. For the Merkin market, how about Shock and Awe in Baghdad wallpaper and Dick Cheney punching out Teddy Kennedy?

        (Most here would know this but for those who do not "i18n" is shorthand for the 20-letter word "internationalization.")

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    So mfg can't be a**ed to do the system tuning necessary

    So with the word on how good or bad a handset is getting round pretty quickly why would anyone want to buy a seriously rubbish one?

    If it's expected to sell in the 100s of 1000s (millions?) surely a few thousand spent on a better tuning of the system would be worthwhile?

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: So mfg can't be a**ed to do the system tuning necessary

      pay £30 for a phone and get £30 worth of quality. Gingerbread is pretty much "fixed". If the drivers match then a company can churn out cheap low powered phones. suitable for many demographics. If you dont like it, dont buy it - but it doesnt mean they are crap just low powered.

    2. Si 1

      Re: So mfg can't be a**ed to do the system tuning necessary

      I'd imagine crap handsets sell quite well to people due an upgrade who want "one of those touch screen thingies" and think the only difference between models is in the colour of the casing.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: So mfg can't be a**ed to do the system tuning necessary

      John Smith,

      Remember, the customer... Isn't the customer. The networks are still mostly the customer. Hence the proliferation of multiple handset models with impenetrable names and tiny differences. Or MMS controls on the homescreen, or hardwired WAP buttons on the keyboards (all for a bit of operator kickbacks). It was the iPhone that first smashed this, didn't the iPhone 1 not even do MMS?

      There's an awful lot of handset makers out there still doing this. Even Samsung does it, on their bewildering range of cheap and mid-price Droids. It's just they've also got the really good high-end ones, where they know the customer is actually choosing them deliberately.

      But at the low-end, people still mainly take the phone they're given, because they neither know, nor care, about the choices available.

      Even some of the mid-priced Androids can be pretty shoddy - with too slow processors or not enough RAM. If you've got a limited budget the best bet is to buy last year's top-end Droids. That was why I went WinPho last year, because at the £120 I paid for it, there was no 'Droid to touch it - unless I was willing to root them. Though at £200 there was some rather nice kit. Admittedly my requirements were rather limited, but I think the very flexibility of Android is one of the main reasons it needs better hardware.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The biggest problem is there is a lot of good work done on Android that never gets returned to Google. With OEMs like Samsung in competition with Google it's no wonder, this is rather dysfunctional. The amount of man hours wasted must be huge.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      The amount of man-hours wasted during the whole story of humankind is huge.

      You always have to compare it against something ...

  5. Mikel


    BTW: You can get a quite nice 7" tablet for about $80 with Android 4.1 now. I have three of them. HP will have a 7"er for $169 starting next month with 4.1. You don't have to pay a lot for a nice tab.

    El Reg needs an Android icon of some sort. Guess I'll have to use Tux.

    1. RoboJ1M

      Re: Shenanigans

      Agreed, £110 gets you a 9" 1.5GHz dual core (ARM, don't know the type) jelly bean tablet with 1gb RAM and 8gb storage in our local tech shop. Not exactly breaking the bank there. Just a shame they don't sell equivalent phones too. I'm gonna go with smiley face. Because smiley.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shenanigans

        £76 gets you a perfectly competent 9" tablet with a keyboard case thrown in. I have a bunch of the 7" ones and they work fine.

        Not exactly a rocketship; but very far from "shoddy low-end devices that look good but "barely work"".

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Shenanigans

      Tablets are cheaper for some reason. My suspicion being that customers pay for tablets, but buy phones on HP through the networks, so get horribly ripped off.

      You can buy an iPad 4 for £400. And iPhone 5 costs £550. OK the 4G iPad costs £500, but we all know that extra chip (and the plastic hole in the metal case) does not cost an extra £100 - that's just profit.

      You can buy a 10" Samsung tablet for £250, the SIII costs £450. A Nexus 10 is about the same prices as a Nexus 4.

      The phones are smaller, so may need a bit more tweaking to get it all to fit, but the only real difference is that the tablets have much more expensive screens, and need more battery shoved in to power them.

    3. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: Shenanigans

      My findings suggest that pixel-density and resolution match those of the big guys (e.g. Samsung), but you can bet that those aren't any AMOLED Screens so how ~good~ they are in real life no idea. The things your are paying for (or in this case NOT paying for are a decent CPU and the amount of RAM that those low-end devices have. When most People in the "know" are looking for Devices that have upwards of 2Gb of on-board RAM to try and keep up for the eventuality of version 5+ Those low end devices with 512MBs of RAM won't have much life beyond what it might have came with.

      While I find $400.00+ Drvices way to extreme, I also think that those sub $100.00 beasties are just cheap nastly little things. But, it makes me wonder about all those cheap nVidia Tegra powered Tablets we were promised last Year. Seems like only the oldest stuff 'round is like $200.00+ and for Tegra 3 your in the Premier League again

  6. Oor Nonny-Muss

    For 99% of people...

    ... they don't give a rat's ass what version it's running only that it does what they want (be that navigate them from A to B, make calls, light browsing on the move,...) at the price they want in a device that is the size they want.

    Case in point, my dearest other half - doesn't want a big phone and it needs to be able to send/receive SMS and run one of the many chat apps... Why would she want a top end phablet running the latest greatest?

    I'm sure when it dies there'll be a panicked cast around for something she does like (although I have a spare phone identical to hers to allow at least some reduction in panic)

  7. Danny 14 Silver badge

    what is wrong with gingerbread? I still run (albeit it a heavily modified flashed version) gingerbread on my galaxy s2. It has a custom kernel though so many of the power saving features are probably surpassed anyway. "cheap" phones often have reasonable specs for their price anyway. My wife still uses an archaic (by current standards) xperia pro - dual 1ghz with 512Mb ram on a 3" screen on gingerbread. It still surfs the web, plays tuneinradio pro, runs skype, youtube etc. Most chinapads and phones have similar specs anyway.

    I do have an old LG gw600 flashed by cyanogen to froyo I think (I never updated it after that) with a really ancient 600Mhz cpu (OC to a whopping 800Mhz) and (I think) 256Mb RAM. Just about every service has been disabled on that "phone". That is an internet radio "wifi only" phone running tunein radio pro only (it does have a samba server on there too so I could push music to the SD card but I havent really needed to). I recessed the phone into a pair of old "shelf end" speakers and that works just nicely in the conservatory. On the odd occasion I switch it off it does take a good minute to power on but consumes very little power and works nicely.

    As an analogy, XP is a perfectly reasonable operating system and works on older hardware - unless you *need* the features of the latest OS then making do is fine (as long as there are no glaring security holes of course!).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Still Gingerbread?

      The latest 4.2.2 roms available are very good indeed.

      The best roms out there for the SII (I've tried many)

    2. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Except you might have forgotten One little detail.

      AFAIK: Google want nothing more to do with Gingerbread and are not developing it any more. So any minor (or indeed MAJOR) security flaws will be left up to the community to fix and, or address.

      Microsoft XP SP3, and O3k3 SP3 arin't quite as advanced.... Yet, but give it about another Year and ask that question again once Microsoft finally drives that Stake home. Unto both XP SP3 and O2K3 SP3

      In and of itself Both XP SP3, O2k3 SP2 and Gingerbread 2.3.x are indeed not bad but, there is something to be said about security patching. Thankfully for the most part Android isn't (or hasn't), been quite the sieve of security breaches that Microsoft are world famous for.

      Best get'chaself a copy of Windows 7 while you still can my dear lad. That or go Linux. Cause 8 is shite and everyone knows too....

  8. g e

    Windsor seems very keen on WinPhone

    While sticking the boot in a fraction too much on Android (though not necessarily wrong, just the semantics of how it was said) - what's his relationship to Redmond I wonder.

  9. Anonymous Coward 101

    Misleading Marketshare Stats

    It must always be remembered that when smartphone marketshare stats are produced that show Android trouncing iOS, they are essentially misleading because of all the cheapo Android devices that are classified as smartphones. Somebody in the market for a cheap Android was never going to buy an iPhone, just like somebody in the market for a Ford Fiesta isn't going to buy a BMW 5 series.

    It would be far more meaningful to show the marketshare of devices in different price brackets. A Samsung S3 definitely counts as a competitor to the iPhone, but a Samsung 'whatever-their-cheap-shit-Android-is-called-today,' doesn't.

    I do think Google will eventually have to optimise Android version 2.3 because of all the phones that run it, and (let's face it) will continue to run it for years to come.

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: Misleading Marketshare Stats

      Anything that has a Capacitve Touch Screen interface, and can use GAPPS inside an Android development IS A SMART PHONE YA TWIT!! Weather it's as nice as a Galaxy SIII or your Jebus Pone 5, is of course another question entirely.

    2. Adam 1

      Re: Misleading Marketshare Stats

      So cars should only be counted as cars if they can compete with 5 series??

      If BMW decide not to build sell anything suited to young girls without rich daddys that is their prerogative.

      But I would point out that most of the cheapest droids would outperform iPhone 1 on any measure. Does that mean iPhone 1 isn't a smart phone?

  10. thesykes

    So, some analyst somewhere produces a report that says Android is fragmented, it's this, it's that.

    Of course, all these analysts only give the world the benefit of their immense wisdom as a favour to us all, as in reality, they're all multi-billionaires following their shrewd investments over the years on the technology trends they are so brilliant at forecasting.

    It's not like they pluck numbers and thoughts out of their arses and try and be controversial or stick Google/Android/Microsoft/Apple in their article titles to just get clicks, is it?

    1. Ian McNee

      Or worse?

      Some analyst sitting on a pile of Apple stock that has fallen by 30% in the past five months is worrying about how he will confinue to fund the condo, kids private education *and* his coke habit? "Hey! Let's roll out the hackneyed Android Fragmentation scare story - there's plenty of tired tech journos out there to spread some FUD!"


      So in an open free-market ecosystem some companies make crap? *yawn* bears-trees-poop, meh.

      When you can get a good SIM-free ICS smartphone (e.g. Huawei Ascend G300) and a good 7" JB tablet (e.g. Storage Options Scroll Evoke) for a little over £200 it's bleedin' obvious to all those who aren't supping the Cupertino/Redmond kool aid that Android fragmentation ain't the problem it's cracked up to be.

      On and just how much quality smartphone+tablet hardware and software can you get for less than 250 notes from Apple or a Windows source?


      1. Francis Boyle

        Re: Or worse?

        I don't disagree with you but isn't the problem more fundamental than that? Analysts get paid to say stuff. They'll still get paid if said stuff is inane or obvious or misleading. They only only don't get paid if they don't say anything at all.

      2. Justice
        Thumb Up

        Re: Or worse?

        I agree. I picked up 2x Huawei Ascend G300 running Gingerbread for the Kids at Christmas.

        Less than £100 each, upgraded both to official ICS and in many benchmarks outperforms kit twice it's price.

        Even an old HTC Desire running Evervolv ICS still cuts the mustard as a decent Android Phone.

        (once you sort out extending the system memory to an SD partitiion)

        The wife's Samsung Fit I'm planning to upgrade shortly will probably have similar results.

        You most certainly can teach on old phone new tricks.

    2. Steve Evans

      Amusing he picks MS as the way to do it... Aren't there a load of recent Nokia customers stuck on 7.5 because their reasonably new handsets won't run 8?

      That sounds like fragmentation to me, which is impressive given then minor market share.

      (And yes, I'm ignoring all the earlier mobile windows versions).

      1. David Beck

        How few is still a "load"?

        "...Aren't there a load of recent Nokia customers ..."

        I'd venture there's not "a load of recent Nokia customers" in any state, given there's not a "load" of recent Nokia customers.

  11. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Problem will sort itself out

    Either Google will have to do an Android 4 Light without so many hardware demands (GPU, memory, etc...) or they'll find themselves in the situation where they'll be forced to support 2.3 forever.

    In the remote case that they decide to let 2.3 rot (doubtful, they want the data) something like Firefox OS/Tizen/Sailfish will ship with a Dalvik interpreter.

    1. fandom

      Re: Problem will sort itself out

      Indeed, it is not as if hardware will keep improving.

      If you don't believe me you only have to look at desktop and laptop computers, have you ever seen, for example, Intel releasing new CPUs that were any better than the preceding generation or at least somewhat cheaper?

      You have? Yeah, sure, next you'll tell me that you can buy android 4.x tablet for less than 200€.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Problem will sort itself out

        The latest versions of Android are targeted at high-end mobile hardware. Even though the hardware and Android changes over time, that doesn't change this fact. If you look at Windows on the laptop/desktop the same is true.

        So either Google willingly lock themselves out of the low-end market, in which case a lighter OS will appear with a Dalvik interpreter to fill the gap because people even customers with low-end mobiles like their Android apps, or they're going to have to do something about it.

        Perhaps I should be an analyst.

        1. fandom

          Re: Problem will sort itself out

          "If you look at Windows on the laptop/desktop the same is true."

          Indeed, after all, when was the last you could buy a budget computer running the latest Windows?

          You can? Yeah, sure, next you'll tell me there are Win8 PCs for less than a thousand euros.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Problem will sort itself out

            If you can still source an Atom netbook with Windows 7 (eBay maybe) you'll find it's a cheap slow experience.

            You can go for a top notch Windows 8 tablet/keyboard combo thing and, yes, it's expensive fast experience.

            See the point I'm getting at?

            1. fandom

              Re: Problem will sort itself out

              "See the point I'm getting at?"


              You mean that windows vista would run better on that netbook, since it is an older OS, you also mean that Win8 crawls on a 400 quid desktop.

              You also mean that it would make sense for Google to devote resources making an Android 4 Lite for current low end telephones, the kind that won't even be build a few months from now, because, somehow, that's a better use of resources than developing Android for the devices that will be build next year.

              Both Apple and Microsoft would love Google to follow your advice.

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                Re: Problem will sort itself out

                Vista on a netbook running better than 8? That'd be like Android 2.3 running better on a low end mobile than 4...

                Also note how iOS 6 doesn't have a light version and it drags on older iPhone models too.

                Also note how WP7 phones couldn't be updated to 8 due to hardware requirements, they had to make do with a simple makeover (7.8).

                Finally as Apple and MS have no low-end OSes, it's up to Google to decide if they want to give up the chance to harvest that data as that's what Android is for and the low end is where the growing market is (developing world). If they decide to give that chance up then Firefox/Tizen/Sailfish will step in and as they are lighter weight and Dalvik will get put on them either officially or unofficially as the OSes are Linux-based and not locked down.

                And so the prosecution rests

      2. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: Problem will sort itself out

        In all fairness I'm typing this up on an AMD64 3000+ Socket 754 System @ 2Ghz IIRC. I Must have bought this like in early 2005 or 6 maybe? I did replace it for a while with an Intel C2D system. But thats been relegated to pulling HTPC duty for yonks now. And even that Sytem is like nearly Seven Years old now. Both systems were capable of running vista more or less fine. As much as I was willing to test it back then. And now they are both running some version of Linux Ubuntu 12.04LTS for the HTPC, and Mint 14 on the Desktop. The only upgrade I'd like to make is to my Netbook cause the 1 Core Atom is S L O W as shi* running Windows 7. Somethings telling me to burn it and replace it with Mint as well I just have to see.

        But to answer your question no I've never felt less pressure to update my Hardware then I do right now.

        That could also possibly explain why PC sales are so shtie too. (i.e. Intel / AMD haven't done jack with marketing the next MMX / 3DNow! wizardry on their CPUs and the World has gone to bed.

    2. Richard Plinston

      Re: Problem will sort itself out

      Android 2.3.x is still getting new releases. 2.3.8 - Gingerbread 8 - is around but I am not sure it is official yet.

      Windows still had the 95, 98, ME series when they also had NT 3.x, 4, 2000 and these overlapped for several years.

  12. John Sanders

    Come on....

    "For years El Reg wondered what the consumer electronics world would look like if the software was free. Now we know, and it's a rather depressing sight. Hardware manufacturers take the savings, pocket them, and cut the corners on the hardware."

    Utter and complete disappointment and disagreement reading this (AKA: IT'S BOLLOCKS)

    I run a Samsung phone (Good hardware for the money) using CyanogenMOD 10.x tell me which other ecosystem will allow me to run a phone using a supported modern OS without any link to any commercial entity, as I do not run the Google applications.

    I would say that is a triumph, is it perfect? no, is it much better than anything else that came before for the end user? YES, do the majority of phone users of the world care about me running a free operating system, no sir.

    But from there to say it is depressing... what would you expect? having hundreds of manufacturers in a market and having all of them get a proportional piece of the market, ie 5 players with 2% of the market each?, all of them selling essentially the same product? with the same capabilities?

    The software is all that matters in 2013 (It has been always like that, hardware is nothing but the means, not the end) And having free software running not just on a phone, but on a majority of the phones is FANTASTIC.

    At the peak of Apple's dominance with the iphone it looked like they would dominate the smart-phone market, and suddenly it is Samsung the one that looks will dominate... It was not that long ago that HTC looked like Samsung today...

    Perhaps the author of the article just laments the lack of success of Windows phones, and would prefer a market dominated between Apple and Microsoft with the Android handset manufacturers in a distant third spot.

    Because having Apple and Microsoft, dictate the direction of mobile computing will be such a good thing.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Come on....

      Don't know who downvotes this. Have an upvote.

      "would look like if the software was free. Now we know, and it's a rather depressing sigh"

      That's all about the free things are bad for you and your neighbours and won't enable you to collect the Intellectual Property Riches that you, as a Creative Person, so richely deserve" meme propagated by some. But you know that.

      It's the same as if you read an article by Krugman in the NYT. There will be at least one statement to the effect that "printing money and state intervention saves the economy". All empirical evidence collected since 1920 says NO in bold letters, but that doesn't stop the author from clinging to his cherished view (which opens up the doors of the political cocktail parties, natch).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hardware manufacturers pocket the savings?

      "For years El Reg wondered what the consumer electronics world would look like if the software was free. Now we know, and it's a rather depressing sight. Hardware manufacturers take the savings, pocket them, and"

      So, hardware manufacturers making money is a depressing sight. I guess it is if you only have Nifty Doorways Verandaha to sell.

  13. Jason Hindle Silver badge

    This is Microsoft's one and only chance

    The low end Win Phones deliver a fine experience compared to a lot of the low end Android handsets. Even the lowly Lumia 610 approaches Apple levels of slickness. This weakness in Android is Microsoft's one and only chance to build a credible market share and build it its mobile ecosystem.

    Mine's the one with S3 written on it, but my next spare phone (and for sticking in foreign SIM cards) will likely be a Lumia.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is Microsoft's one and only chance

      Problem is.

      YOu can buy a Nexus4 for the same price as a Lumia 610, anyone buying a Lumia with all it's problems is frankly either an idiot, or is so ingrained into everything Microsoft, they deserve a slap.

  14. Arctic fox

    Which is the tail and which is the dog in the sense of who is wagging whom?

    Let me first make one thing clear - I am not remotely hostile to Android as a mob os, indeed I have owned four so far and am currently running a Desire X. However, one thing is becoming increasingly clear. In the prestigious and very profitable mid-range to high end market only Samsung is making the big bucks. This is becoming increasingly problematical for Google because it is steadily becoming the case that in the aforementioned sector the average punter is identifying Android with Samsung rather than Mountain View. The Koreans are more and more in the invaluable position where punters are asking for a Samsung phone - brand profile in other words. Currently (although on a much smaller market scale) Redmond is in very much the same position with Nokia (given that Nokia is generating over 80% of all WinPhones sold) - what happens there if WP8 finally gains some significant market share largely provided by the Finns? It will be very interesting to see how Mountain View and Redmond react to being as equally dependent upon their primary OEM as the OEM is on them. That changes the power balance very considerably - we will very likely be "living in interesting times".

  15. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Yet more android fragmentation FUD ..

    It's either nobody's using android or else it's fragmenting if lots of people use it. Are you seriously suggesting that Windows will run faster on low end phones than Android?


    please buy Windows Phone .. please buy Windows Phone ...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Yet more android fragmentation FUD ..

      Are you seriously suggesting that Windows will run faster on low end phones than Android?


      To answer your question in a word: Yes. The more complicated answer is... More complicated. WP7 was fast, even on the worst hardware it used. There are 2 reasons for this. Firstly it did less. For example, Android has had full multi-tasking for a while. I'm not personally convinced that's 100% a good thing, given that there are only some apps that should really need it on a phone. Although it's better to have the option, obviously. MS kept that goodness for only their own apps, so obviously the phones needed less RAM and weaker processors. When Win Pho first hit the market, their hardware requirements weren't far off top-end Droids, but MS actually lowered the hardware requirements by making the OS more efficient over about 18 months of updates. In the same time, Android got better, did more, but also got more 'bloated'. Hardware requirements for a reasonable phone therefore went up. So I'd argue that at the low end, Android got worse than WP7 on the same hardware.

      Users buying cheaper phones are likely to be less demanding - so less OS shinies for lower hardware specs is a fair trade to make. I've seen some pretty stuttery and crappy low-end Droids. I've owned one as well. I now have an iPhone 5, but I've used that, WP7 and Android, and liked them all - for different reasons. I've not used WP8, or seen one of the new cheap Nokias, but if they're as good as the cheap WP7 ones, then this should be where MS target for a bit, to get some market share. Because they'll either be competing against older versions of Android, or lower-end hardware that struggles to run the lastest and greatest.

    2. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Yet more android fragmentation FUD ..

      Seems to me that analysts have found a new word "fragmentation", sounds very professional indeed. And that is enough. Perhaps they will find the word fragmentation useful in some other market too. Electrical cars, the cheese market. Just wait and see.

      1. Lars Silver badge

        Re: Yet more android fragmentation FUD ..

        Adding to this "fragmentation" thing, mostly used as some kind of an warning (uncertainty in FUD) related to open source and Android in this article. To some extent I can understand it as there is really nobody who can pay for the dinner with the analyst and reveal "confidentially" what they are supposed to say they are going to do.

        Then again without fragmentation I suppose we would have only one very grand party "the party" and to be honest the only fragmentation that worries me is a too fast fragmentation of the one and only grand party in China. Fragmentation has of course also, in the past, created some problems like black, brown, yellow, red, white and pink people. Perhaps the only only opposite to fragmentation is complete stagnation. There is a lot of that too.

  16. Stuart 16
    Thumb Up


    I owned a Huawei Ascend G300 for a short period, it was without a doubt the most miserable experience I have had with a phone. I switched to a Nokia Lumia with Windows Phone 8 and will not go back to Android.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: +1

      > will not go back to Android

      You will not go back to a Huawei Ascend G300. There is a difference.

      1. Stuart 16

        Re: +1

        To expand a little further, I do not have money to throw at rubbish devices. It doesn't matter to me if the problems are caused by the software of the hardware; rubbish is still rubbish. So BOTH Huawai and Android have blown it in my book.

      2. Paw Bokenfohr

        Re: +1

        "There is a difference."

        I think that that might be a problem that may be brewing for Android in the future, actually. That "Android" is to some people synonymous with the phone: In his example, it's "an Android phone" rather than it's "an Huawei phone" and so the bad experience equates to "my Android phone was rubbish" -> "I won't get another Android phone" rather than "that Huawei phone struggled running Android, I should get a more powerful and better designed one from a higher end manufacturer next time".

    2. Cosmo
      Thumb Up

      Re: +1

      To counter this - I have a Huawei Ascend G300 and it's great!

      I paid £100 and have an Android phone running Ice Cream Sarnie with an external SD card slot. Nope it's not fast with it's single core processor, so if you're a power user or want to play more high end games it's not for you. However, for what I want to use it for, I can't see anything else on the market for that price which matches it.

  17. Alan Denman

    Moving the sheep on?

    "The cheapo hardware can't keep up with the demands of the software, we're told"

    err That low end hardware is now faster than last years high end hardware.

    All we need to know is that app developers do not get penalised for supporting old kit. This mobile revolution means they either want out stuff obsolete even faster that we had before or license it to us by the month!

    So if you are lucky, 'There's an app for that' but for how long will it work?

    Android currently means it lasts forever, unlike the others wit an app 'private club'.

  18. Rich 2 Silver badge

    Yep - it's all pretty crappy

    My Motorola Android phone is ok, but that's about all it is. Android is still full of holes and lacking functionality. To quote my long-suffering wife, the problem with techy stuff is that it's always "just a bit crap". And she's right. Yes, it works. Most of the time it even works quite well. But it also stalls, it can sometime take ages to drop calls, the sound sometime inexplicably stops working requiring a reboot to recover it (I've missed several alarms because of this), The screen flips portrait/landscape on a whim. Dunno if the newer Android version do, but mine doesn't have support for client SSL certificates. I could go on ...and on ...and on....

    This is all really basic stuff and the fact that these issues exist is a symptom of the "get it out of the door ASAP, whether it works or not" problem. It's not specific to Motorola, or even Android. It's modern-day stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap (even if they are "just a bit crappy") business. Ho hum...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yep - it's all pretty crappy

      "Yes, it works. Most of the time it even works quite well. But it also stalls, it can sometime take ages to drop calls, the sound sometime inexplicably stops working requiring a reboot to recover it"

      That's not Android. It's your crap Motorola phone full of bloatware and poorly optimised (by Motorola) for the hardware.

  19. Eugene Crosser

    "Nokia is throwing its best engineering talent at Microsoft's mobile OS"

    Nokia has thrown its best (well, allegedly..) engineering talent in the ditch...

  20. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


    the joys of owning a crappy Galaxy ace with gingerbread....

    but it does what I want it to do... make phone calls, send abusive text messages to co-workers and play music, with a spot of surfing, and has my machining calculator app on it.

    But look at mobile phones , not from the techie point of view but the usual customer point of view , eg

    I want bright, shiny and new, I want a good enough, I wont go over £15 a month , and I want the buy the device outright types.

    Thats the market, and thats what leads to the fragmentation.

    Coat... because I keep leaving my phone in mine

  21. IHateWearingATie

    iHaters, you can stop reading this comment now....

    In the last couple of weeks I've found one of the benefits of the Apple tight control of hardware is the ability to move back and forwards in phone versions, seemingly without penalty.

    The wife's 4S got stolen, so I bought a 3GS off ebay for £70 - plugged it in, did a restore and everything *just worked*. I know there are some apps that will not work on a 3GS, but she didn't have any of them.

    I suspect moving from a premium android phone to a budget one off ebay (contract expires in a few months, didn't want to spend £££) would have had more issues with app compatibility.

    Interestingly she may choose move to android (maybe the latest Samsung Galaxy) later in the year anyway once her contract expires.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: iHaters, you can stop reading this comment now....

      Have a chat with an iPhone 3G user and see if they're happy. They can't reset the phone and redownload their apps because they're stuck on iOS 4.something and apps are now built for iOS 5+.

      The next bump in the road is iOS5.

  22. Keep Refrigerated

    Red Herring

    Fragmentation again? Really El Reg, is it still 2010? I could have sworn we had a couple of New Years Eve parties between now and the last 'sky-is-falling' article about Android fragmentation.

    Android fragmentation is, and always was, a red herring. Did anyone complain about fragmentation of Symbian all those years ago when Nokia was market leader and cranking out feature phones faster than duck farts? No, because back then phones were sold on features, the OS was irrelevant in most consumers minds.

    iPhone raised the bar on feature phones, but was it really a smartphone? It was missing several 'smart' features that phones like Blackberry and Nokia had for years - MMS, removable battery, 3G, calendar to name a few. Remember on it's first release the app store wasn't even a desired thing - Steve Jobs actively resisted the idea. I don't think the simple shape of a phone is a deciding factor in whether it is a smartphone or not.

    So then Android comes along and leverages the plasticity of Linux to make it an iPhone contender. At this point iOS has grown into a smartphone OS as much as Android Donut started out as one. It was at this point that people stopped thinking of phones based on their hardware features and started considering them the same way they did desktop and laptop devices - a piece of hardware that can run an OS.

    Of course the problem is that OEMs had yet to come round to this way of thinking. They were still trying to promote their hardware based on features, rather than as suitable hardware for a smartphone OS. I think it's been a learning process for manufacturers to come around to the idea that they are no longer selling features, but capable hardware. I'd say the learning process is not yet complete but some seem to be learning faster than others.

    It's not like desktop and laptop manufacturers are any better anyway. One could equally argue that all the different types of Windows OS pre-installed with crudware (e.g. OEM version, Norton Anti-virus, Hardware Utilities etc...) causes fragmentation but people don't call it that and seem to accept it as a given that Microsoft is quite happy for manufacturers to sell crippled versions of Windows.

  23. RyokuMas Silver badge

    Code bases...

    "Instead, they have to maintain two or three codebases. This wasn't supposed to happen. For a developer with limited resources, iOS and Android are quite enough of a headache already."

    Guess the author hasn't come across Mono and other cross-platform frameworks... I recently ported five of my XNA WP7 games to Android using Monogame - it was almost stupidly easy. Granted, there were a few refactors here and there and a couple of "#if ANDROID"s ('droid can't deal with long, looped sound effect, for example), but ultimately, the same files that power the new Monogame/'Droid versions still run just fine on the WP7 under XNA.

    So far, I've tested under Gingerbread and Froyo, and everything's just peachy (need to get some more devices!) I'd be willing to bet I could pull the same trick for iPhone too - if I could justify the cost of the hardware for testing. End of the day, it's framework that matters - unless you absolutely have to go native.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Code bases...

      "I'd be willing to bet I could pull the same trick for iPhone too"

      Yeah, let us know how that works out. Andrew is talking about Android and iOS, whereas you're talking about Android and Windows Phone 7.


  24. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Low-powered or low requirement?

    There is this weird assumption that everyone that buys an Android phone is going to need the ability to load OODLES of applications, requiring lots of RAM and cores. Reality? Just like many home PCs, many buyers simply don't add lots of applications. Straw poll of Android phones in our office, and that's a largely techie environment, finds the majority have only a few apps and two have nothing over what was on the phone at purchase (and one of those is a Galaxy!). Maybe it's because the iPhone had a better solution that made buying apps so easy, or maybe the iBoners were just more inclined to pay more iTax due to Apple having a reason to pitch their iStore at the iBoners so heavily, but I don't see that with many Android users, unless they are seriously into the development scene. My own rooted, heavily tweaked HTC? Three additional apps over what was offered in the original bundle on the phone at purchase, none of which stretch the phone in the slightest, and could probably be run on the majority of the lower-powered models mentioned. I suppose there is a reason for the mobe vendors and carriers to try and convince we all need a new Ferrari every eighteen months, when the reality is the majority would be happy with a Ford Focus.

  25. Richard Neill

    Lack of GPL'd userspace to blame

    It's a shame that Android removed so much GPL'd code from userspace. It makes fragmentation inevitable.

    (By comparison, look at Desktop Linux - it hasn't fragmented in anywhere near the same way. Of course people make different choices, but the GPL means that both forks and merges are possible).

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why do people listen to silly ass analysts?

    Most people, myself included, buy a phone because they want it for a specific purpose. In my case I wanted it for calling people, sms, playing the occasional game to pass time at stations etc., and GPS ... only to see email noticfications because only someone either desperate or a complete wanker does emails from a sub 6" screen.

    Personally if it wasn't for GPS being so handy I'd be tempted to downgrade to an unsmartphone and buy a small tablet.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "We've noticed that upcoming communications powerhouse Huawei makes Google almost invisible on its flagship smartphones."

    You've noticed wrong then.

    It's been said before in the comments section but very few modern Android smartphones carry any Google branding whatsoever be they made by Samsung, HTC, Motorola, ZTE, Huawei or anyone else. Huawei is doing nothing unusual by not branding its handsets with the Google logo. Quite the opposite in fact.

    Of course once you use a Huawei 'droid you'll see all the usual Google apps present and correct which is all that really matters.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google?

      My Huawei Ascend G300 (budget, granted) carries a Google logo proudly on the back.

      Although, as it's too underpowered I don't plan on keeping it (although it's been a good phone for the price I paid).

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