Android phone manufacturers just don’t get it

You might have heard of a little term known as Android “fragmentation.” This is a term that, in this case, means there are many kinds of hardware surrounding the Android operating system, as well as the many different software versions floating around on all of these devices, including custom versions exclusive to some manufacturers (HTC’s Sense, Samsung’s TouchWiz, Motorola’s Motoblur, etc.).

You’ve probably heard that this can pose a problem for app developers trying to cater to every Android device. It’s not just a problem though, it’s downright confusing and frustrating.

I’m sure you know how it is: Android phone manufacturers have tons of different phones. It’s to the point now where it’s getting hard to keep track of new models that release. I can certainly attest to this when I tried to follow all of the news coming out of this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. So many new devices were announced and unveiled that I felt extreme remorse for all tech journalists who were assigned to cover the event.

Phone makers get so caught up on pure sales and numbers that they start to lose focus on…well…focusing. All of these manufacturers don’t just have a few Android phones in their lineup, they have dozens.

This wasn’t the plan, though, when Android was beginning to come into fruition in 2007. Google had planned to only make one device that would be refreshed every year or so and push it to all carriers, similar to Apple’s current strategy with the iPhone. Obviously, this didn’t work out too well. Yes, Google still makes their one device (the Nexus), but other manufacturers have jumped on board with not only one device, but many.

A similar situation is happening (and has always been happening) with Windows computers. Manufacturers like HP, Dell, Toshiba and Asus have dozens of models of computers, all slightly different from one another. They even go so far as to give them ridiculous model names. Asus’ Eee netbook series is extremely guilty of this. They have numerous netbook models, all with a ridiculous model number (T101MT is one of them). This makes it extremely confusing and frustrating when it comes time to shop for a laptop and I totally don’t blame those that give up and just buy a MacBook Air instead.

Options are great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s counter-intuitive when someone puts thirty different choices in front of my face and tells me to pick only one. Wouldn’t it be much easier and more helpful if those choices were narrowed down to a more-manageable four or five?

Image Credit: Matthijs via Flickr



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8 responses to “Android phone manufacturers just don’t get it”

  1. Anti Avatar

    I completely disagree with you…

    Choice is part of freedom. I know freedom is scary and certainly not easy, but please, think about what you just posted for a while.

    The reason we have so many problems today is because of our habit of easiness.

  2.  Avatar

    I agree with everything except the Asus dig. Its a convertible Tablet with a 10.1″ screen that supports Multi Touch – T101MT. That one I get. Now Samsung’s Series 7 that isn’t a 7″ screen (named after an OS? really?) or almost any of HP’s numbers (what was 500 in the HP Slate 500? Why is it’s successor the 2?) – those make no sense.

    I would say six per manufacturer if they make a full line of small (~3.5″), medium (~4″), and large (~4.5″) screens with keyboards and without. Maybe an outlier with a 5″ or larger screen. But that’s it. And don’t give two different names to the same phone on different carriers.

  3. Geek_News Avatar

    Choice is an essential part of the market, otherwise your beloved Apple would have gone belly up years ago. Not everyone wanted the plain jane PC they wanted to choose something a bit more their style! I’ll agree that there has to be a breaking off point though. Manufactures don’t need 10 different products with 10 different model numbers all with only slight variations. They should focus on a few models and leave it at that. The problem is that consumers drive the market and they obviously don’t buy into Apple’s approach of we know what’s best for you “take it or leave it”
    I’m not sure how its counter-intuitive to give someone several different
    styling options, several different performance options ect? I’m pretty
    sure we don’t all want to drive around in little white cars, wearing the
    same t-shirts and jeans with the same hair cut listening to the same

    I’m not sure how this goes from a statement about Android fragmentation to an Apple fluff piece or an Apple vs PC piece but hey whatever! 

  4. Sophronis Avatar

    Not sure where you are getting at with this article??  How many versions of iphones are out there?  does that cause fragmentation?  how many versions of their software is out there?  Does that cause fragmentation?  I would say choice is freedom.  The biggest disgrace I recall in the latest releases of devices is apple putting sire (or what ever the name of that stupid A.I agent is) and call it 4s — ok they added some more memory too and a little faster CPU.  Why didn’t they make Siry available for the poor users who just upgraded to the latest iphone 4 only a year ago?   Because they lock up everything so people do not have a choice.  Personally I am a fun of android.   

    1. Craig Lloyd Avatar

      iOS is certainly fragmented, but definitely not to the insane extent of Android.

      As far as your claim of Apple locking things up so users would have to upgrade to get the latest and greatest: I won’t deny that this MIGHT be true of Apple; It’s certainly a common business practice amongst many companies. HOWEVER, one of the big reasons why Siri is not on the iPhone 4 is because the A4 chip, as well as the noise-reduction technology just isn’t powerful enough to run Siri effectively. Sure, Siri will at least run on the iPhone 4, but probably not as effectively as Apple (or users themselves) would like, and if you know Apple, you’ll know that they won’t execute something unless the functionality meets their expectations (which are high). It’s the same reason why they don’t put newer versions of iOS on their older devices.

      Also, with the most sincerest respect, please please please know about the topic before you make an argument. Your credibility dropped when you didn’t even know the name of Apple’s voice-control system.

      P.S. I realize this is a little late, so I apologize.

  5. ChrisKalis Avatar

    It’s an interesting sight. An iOS 5 is holding off the entire industry. I certainly think that without iPhone, we will still be on our symbian crappy phone with little progress along the years of domination. We all had one which the leading mobile phone company was not doing much but just flooding the market with little differences in them except for tag line such as “Human Technology”. This is what they are doing again. Killing each other trying to outdo competitors running on Andriod. 

    I must confess that some of these phones are sleek but I can’t even remember the models, what good is there? Supply over demand, over production. How many companies have reported the drop in sales? Remember that Hp’s Touch Pad saga? I can so remember the model coz it was the headline on every newspaper and on TV. I’m cool with competition, it sparks progression but what’s happening now is like how humans are exploited earth taking more than we can chew.

    1. Craig Lloyd Avatar


      Choice is freedom and is an essential part of the market, yes, BUT having more choices thrown at you than what you can handle is problematic, and that’s what’s happening.

  6. TribalStyleMarketing Avatar

    I agree, & yes I’m an Android fan.  The manufacturers are definitely spreading themselves too thin.  If they just concentrated on a few different models & made them really really good, I think they’d sell a bunch more.  I’m still not pleased with the Droid Slider Keyboards, of any manufacturer.  This one has this but doesn’t have that etc.  Though I’m not a fan of Apple, I can clearly see why they have created loyal, raving fans.

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