Unlike Apple and Microsoft, Google’s Android is a utopic OS. With it, the company brings the open source philosophy that anyone capable can use, customise and apply it with the end goal of fuelling innovation. In fact, it’s part of the company’s philosophy:
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“We’re hoping to fuel greater innovation for mobile users everywhere with Android, a free, open source mobile platform. Android brings the openness that shaped the Internet to the mobile world,” is says on the company’s site.
At the end of the day, the more companies using Android ups competition and fuels innovation.
“Not only does Android benefit consumers, who have more choice and innovative new mobile experiences, but it opens up revenue opportunities for carriers, manufacturers and developers.”
Creating a utopic smartphone isn’t without its pitfalls. Fragmentation is a big thorn in Google’s thigh as each carrier’s custom version of Android requires tailored support. This forces Google (and manufacturers) to divide its efforts, unlike Microsoft and Apple who focus on one predefined and closed OS.
So far Google has released a plethora of Android versions, flooding the mobile market with different types that require their own dedicated support.
The company recently posted stats on Android’s software mix, ranging from Android 1.5 (cupcake) to Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
The two noteworthy variants dominating the market are Gingerbread (58.1%, up from October by 3.2%) and Ice Cream Sandwich (0.7%, up from October by 0.4%).
The dry figures indicate that more customers are upgrading their software/smartphones to newer versions of Android, with the latest versions of Android hogging the greatest share. (Keep in mind Ice Cream Sandwich is only available on one smartphone–Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus–so far.)
This indicates that Google is winning the war against fragmentation, with trends suggesting the company will be able to concentrate more on a few versions.
Android will continue to unify as Ice Cream Sandwich becomes widely available for download. ICS supersedes Honeycomb (Google’s tablet OS) and Gingerbread (Google’s smartphone OS), putting an end to the forced schism that divided tablets and smartphones.