This could almost be nominally a follow-up to a post I made ages ago, “The walled garden vs the overrun garden“. You’ll probably want to read that first.
Now that Android has been out for a while, I wanted to reflect on how fragmented the Android platform has become, and how the consumers have not reaped the benefit of an “open” platform. Indeed, despite arguments to the contrary, Android has proven itself to be a remarkably closed platform that is actively used to deny user freedom.
Don’t believe me? Let’s have a quick run through the catalogue of failures, or to be more honest, the catalogue of “consumers being shafted”:
- The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, released in August 2010, will receive no Android updates beyond 2.1. Announced January 2011.
- Samsung may be blocking updates beyond 2.1 to it’s Vibrant phone so as to get people to upgrade to a mostly identical phone with Android 2.2 running on it. Or maybe it’s just a delay, because they have to do “extensive” testing against the phone?
- AT&T wouldn’t discuss when Android 2.2 would be made available for HTC Aria, despite being released elsewhere.
- Android 2.3 won’t be made available for the LG Optimus One P500 for spurious processor requirements.
- Some Android phones can’t be updated without rooting the device. Seems to me the consumer is getting rooted there.
- AT&T and other carriers block the installation of 3rd party apps that weren’t bought on official marketplaces. Hang on, wasn’t Android meant to be open?
- Canada gets shafted too, apparently.
- Apparently Australian users get shafted too.
- Samsung appears to not really have the interest of US consumers in mind based on “The Samsung Secret“.
The list just goes on and on, and frankly gets a bit boring and repetitive. The message remains the same though: Android is “open” for values of “open = closed”. A consumer using Android is at the mercy of both the carrier and the hardware manufacturer, unless of course they want to “root” the device, but that’s not something that Aunty Betty is going to be interested in doing.
OK, so Apple has a “closed wall” garden, but at least it’s a well maintained garden. Devices get OS updates for at least 2 years. Carriers can’t install consumer-borking user experiences on the devices, and … oh, the upgrade process is simple.
A very common story is devices that are less than a year old are being denied updates. Hello? What the fuck? That’s why I dropped Palm all those years ago. “What’s that? You want to upgrade from X.2 to X.3 of the OS? OK, pay $1000 for a new phone and you’ll have the new OS!”
Android is increasingly becoming the platform for people who want to be screwed without bothering to have sex.