Jelly Bean is Now on more Devices than Gingerbread
Fragmentation has been an issue with Android since the very beginning. Because Android is open source, many companies have essentially created their own operating system that’s based the Android platform, laying their own heavy skins in top of the stock OS, and, of course, giving themselves total control over their devices. As a result, when a new version of Android is released, many companies hold the update hostage while they apply their skins, and make sure the update didn’t mess anything up with their user interface. Another huge and obvious issue is the carriers. A lot of these companies allow carriers to put bloatware on their devices (for money, obviously), and when a new update comes out, carriers want to stop the update to make sure their bloatware is working correctly. What makes it worse is that CDMA carriers (Verizon Sprint, and Cricket mainly) seem to have this at the bottom of their priority list. It’s quite rude actually, making companies wait until they get around to it. These are the main reasons why it’s taken a year for the latest flavor of Android to become the most popular one. This is compared to just weeks on platforms like Apple’s iOS.
Even with these horrible problems, it’s hard not to throw up your hands in celebration when you see that Jelly Bean has become the first iteration of Android to surpass the one and only Gingerbread in the amount of devices it’s installed on. It also quickly reminds you of the fragmentation problems, however. The manufacturers and carriers are the only ones that win here. The consumers get an infuriatingly long wait for the new version of Android, topped off with the fact that they have to deal with carrier bloatware. Some people also never get an update. Having been on the Nexus platform ever since I switched from iOS to Android, I can’t come close to comprehending the frustration that must come with this issue. Having to pay $200 plus another $80 a month for two years to get what some people get in the form of a free update because of big company greed is infuriating enough, but when you factor in the fact that a lot of the best apps are exclusive to 4.0 and up (and some even 4.1 and up), I’d imagine it would really begins to piss you off. It also must be incredibly stressful for developers who are bombarded with emails about the limited support of their apps, when they have little to do about it.
What can we do to stop this? The answer is quite simple in my eyes. Everybody should buy Nexus and Google Edition Devices. Not only are they better, in my opinion, if the majority of Android users ditched the Galaxy Lines and HTC products for products endorsed by Google, companies would scramble to fix these issues to get us consumers switching back to their products. So, spread the word: switch to the Nexus platform the next time you upgrade your phone. You might prefer it over your current platform, and maybe, a few years from now, new versions of Android could be on the majority of phones in a couple of months rather than a year.