Open Handset Alliance Band Together To Solve Android Fragmentation
Like the UN Security Council, Google's hardware and carrier partners have come together to solve problems for the good of everyone. Every major US player has signed on and the first promise that came out of this alliance is a promise that all Android handsets going forward will be supported for a minimum of 18 months after its release.
It's a great first step to fix the growing fragmentation problem plaguing Android. With handset manufacturers and wireless carriers adding custom software on the Android OS, delays for new updates have become increasingly common. At the very least, it looks like there is a plan to stop that trend. Google admitted that details are sparse and that the group had just been formed, but that more announcements will be coming in the next few months.
If I were sitting in on those meetings, I'd very much like to see a few major changes. The most important of which would be to have all customizations be implemented on top of the core Android OS. Much like how Windows Phone 7 allows customizations without compromising any future updates, Android should do the same. Google needs Android to emulate the desktop Windows OS, which works exactly the same way on every computer while allowing anyone to add customizations and to develop for the platform. At least, that should be how Google and their partners should approach Google-approved devices. Anyone who wants to use Android for unofficial handsets or devices, can proceed any way they wish using the open-source code.
Google should also have to promise to deliver updates in a timely manner to all supported devices. While Google has released the Gingerbread update for their two Nexus phones, no third party manufacturer has done so on exisitng hardware. Google needs to be a true partner and support these handsets by helping companies push out updates as soon as possible.
I doubt this alliance will produce everything on Android users' wish lists, but they are off to a good start, and if they continue to work together, it only means good things for consumers.