Device operating systems

OS Watch: Android's Fragmentation Makes Friends

Android fragmentation shouldn't be brushed under the rug, it should be embraced, says Joachim Ritter, director of mobile solutions at ProSyst Software AG . His acceptance of the issue led him to create AndroidFragmentation.com, a Website aimed at helping other developers do the same. (See Sprint Tackles Browser-Based Apps.)

The site, relaunched this week, features a database of functionality for every Android phone, including which software release it runs, resolution, hardware intricacies, issues reported about the device, and the APIs available.

"Fragmentation is not going away," Ritter says. "It's going to get worse because of how the ecosystem works and because of market demand. There's too many ways to apply Android and different form factors -- it's all about embracing it and not hiding it."

  • (More) Frag Watch: Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)'s ability to embrace the Android frag is what it credits for its long-awaited return to profitability and subsequent jump in stock this week. (See Moto Looks to Diversify, Build on Android Success and Moto Posts Q3.)

    When asked if Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) was supportive of Moto's efforts to differentiate on Android with MotoBlur, its user interface alternative, co-CEO Sanjay Jha responded that the Android ecosystem is better for the diversity it supports even if the diversity fragments the ecosystem. "We are very, in this ecosystem, careful to make sure all applications can run on all devices," Jha said. "And beyond that, the diversity of devices and the pace of innovation in this ecosystem has been very helpful, and our ability to differentiate has actually helped the Android ecosystem in shipments in this category."

  • Android on the cheap: Moto is looking to drive down Android prices, but Google's cheapest Android yet debuted this week on T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) from a different handset maker.

    The LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) Optimus will set you back just $30 with a service plan on T-Mobile and $50 for Sprint. It's targeted at those buying their first smartphone, but includes advanced features like a touchscreen, Android 2.2, WiFi, and a 3-megapixel camera. (See LG's Got 99 Problems.)

    In other cheap Android news, Walgreens is now selling a $100 Android 1.6 tablet, built by GPS maker Maylong. Of course, it's not the latest and greatest Android OS, but it's indicative of the direction Android prices are going -- nowhere but down. (See Tablets: Counting the Cost and Top 10 Ways to Go Mobile on the Cheap.)

  • Palm reading: For some non-Android news, HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) is ready to revive Palm Inc. , rumor has it in Taiwan. The Taiwan Economic News is reporting that Palm has resumed working with Foxconn Electronics Inc. to make four or five webOS devices in 2011, including the PalmPad, and Compal Electronics Inc. to make even more. (See Top 10 Non-Android Devices to Watch.)

  • Sprint goes for MeeGo: When the Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)-backed MeeGo OS comes to its first devices, Sprint will be lining up to support it too. At its developers' conference this week, Electronista reports that Sprint said it will use the open-source software in future devices, including in the car. It's also looking to add MeeGo-powered smartphones and tablets to its 3G and 4G networks. (See Nokia's 'Unpolished Gems' and NoGo for MeeGo.)

    MeeGo got its 1.1 release update yesterday, and the first device it is expected on is the N900, where it will run alongside Nokia's own Maemo through a dual-boot option. (See OS Watch: Android Earns Its Reputation.)

    — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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