Android tablets are doomed without a single OS version

Discussion in 'Android Tablet News Depot' started by Spider, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. Spider

    Spider Administrator Staff Member

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    By James Kendrick | February 19, 2012, 10:51am PST
    Summary: A lot of ink has been spilled decrying the Android fragmentation problem, and while the smartphone space is surviving in spite of it the tablet space will not.

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    This weekend has been an Android tablet weekend. I’ve been updating all the tablets I have, both OS and app updates. I like doing it as it is fun to get under the hood with Android and tinker. All of this updating has driven one point home that Google hasn’t understood yet — until there is one OS version on all Android tablets they will never compete well.

    The tablets I have are varied, yet have something in common that is giving me fits. All but one of them is running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), which is not even an official tablet OS version according to Google. The one exception, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, is officially running Honeycomb, a “real” tablet OS. The latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), has been out for a few months and there are even apps appearing that require it, but it is only available on one or two tablets.

    That is a huge problem for Android tablets in the marketplace — it’s bad enough to not have the latest OS version but with tablet apps now requiring the latest version that no one has it is a deal-breaker. Google likes to spout an insane number of apps in the Android Market that are optimized for the tablet, but the fact is very few tablets in customers’ hands can even install them. Tablet apps require Honeycomb or later to install, and the vast majority of tablets sold (thanks to the Kindle Fire) are running a non-tablet version, Gingerbread.

    Pre-Honeycomb tablets are restricted to running phone apps blown up to fit the tablet screen. Apps actually written for tablet use require Honeycomb at least, so only a fraction of tablets sold can even run them. Now apps are appearing that require ICS, Google’s own Chrome browser is at the top of the list, and those can run on maybe a few customer’s tablets.

    The system has evolved so that most tablets sold cannot run tablet apps. That makes no sense on any level, but it is the way things have been allowed to happen. Now Honeycomb tablets cannot run the best tablet apps, even though they are genuine tablets. Android tablet owners have everything stacked against them at every turn, and Google is firmly to blame for that situation.

    The real group impacted by this tablet OS situation is the app developers. They are expected to write tablet apps for the platform with few tablet owners able to run them. Now they are dependent on only the latest version of Android to take advantage of the platform, aka Google Chrome, and yet they can’t expect much return due to the lack of tablets in the market that can even run those apps.

    Owners can take matters into their own hands and root their tablet and put an unsupported ROM onboard. I’ve done that with my Galaxy Tab 10.1 to get ICS installed so I can run Google Chrome. That’s not the way it should work, however, and why Android will never aggressively compete in the tablet space. While the smartphone space can survive the fragmentation issue, tablets cannot.

    Even Microsoft understands that a single tablet platform is required to have a chance in the market, and while I’m not sure it will compete well I respect its approach. Android on tablets is floundering, however, and will continue to do so until Google gets a single tablet OS version on all tablets sold.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  2. geckoT2C

    geckoT2C Member

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    You definitely have a point there, but don't you think someone at Google has spotted this issue too? They are probably doing it this way consciously.

    I reckon G is releasing quick android updates because they have some serious upgrades that make previous versions look archaic. There is no reason they should sit on these upgrades. Plus they need to make the OS compelling enough to compete with IPS.

    In any case, I think these serious performance upgrades might slow down once they reach a stable & fast OS.
     
  3. J515OP

    J515OP Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I think the author is completely missing the point. This is not at all a Google issue. Android is open source and that is one of its biggest advantages in reality. The problem has nothing to do with Google (well maybe they made a misstep with being late to the Android OS tablet idea and then rushing out Honeycomb), it is really a problem of the manufactures. They are the ones that choose what to run on their tablets and just like the phones are responsible for the incoherent skins and lack of updates.

    All Google can do is continue to put out a good base product. It is up to the OEMs to do the right thing with pre-installing the appropriate Android version on the device and for timely updates. If the OEMs fail in this it is up to us as consumers to take them to task for it. It really is that simple.

    If OEMs fail to respond we have enthusiastic developers who allow us to by pass the OEMs and get Android as it is meant to be on a phone or tablet. Can Google do more/better with Android? Yes. Are most of the Android fragmentation issues a Google problem? No, blame the OEMs.

    2 cents,

    JP
     
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  4. Androidfonefan

    Androidfonefan Senior Member

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    J515OP is correct. Google does their part by producing the OS, they do not control how vender's put which one on their products, nor do they control how those vender's alter those OSs to suit their needs, HTC anyone.
    Personally I see nothing wrong with company's putting a variety of Android OSs on their products, let them put what they want and let the people buy what they want and let natural selection go about its way. If a company does not sell a product because it has decided to put an outdated OS on it, they will learn because no one will buy it, they will update the OS or go bankrupt.

    This author can wright about his views, but nothing says he is correct in them.
     
  5. b1lk1

    b1lk1 Member

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    Blame China for flooding the market with low price crap tablets running older versions. Most of teh good quality units that actually work as intended are either running Honeycomb or can upgrade to it. Many of the good tablets are slated for ICS as well.

    This is not a google issue, this is an issue with people wanting Transformer Primes for the price of a cheap half funtioning Chinese knck-off.
     
  6. juhni

    juhni Member

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    IMHO, Google shouldn't have released honeycomb. They should have combined tablet and phone os's sooner. If they designed android a little differently so the end user could do updates themselves. Such as installing the newest version of android on top of the existing version. With the ota updates coming from manufacters for bug fixes for there particular models.

    One thing to remember is that even though a device can boot the latest and greatest version, the experience would be horrible.

    In my opinion until Google gets off its a@@ and force oem's to do more timely updates the situation will not change. The flipside side is do we want OEM's like HTC spending time updating the HTC magic/my touch 3g to ics.

    Sent from my A500 using Android Tablet Forum
     

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