Why Google Needs to Take Control of Android

Ironic isn't it? One of the most vaunted features of Android was its "openness" and how it wasn't as "closed-off" as the iOS. And now, that very openness is coming back to bite Android on its posterior. A recent security report revealed that there has been a massive upsurge of about 400 percent in the volume of reported malicious attacks on Android devices. Of course, the primary reason for this is the completely unchecked way applications are added to the Android Market.

So, yes, security is a big issue but unfortunately that's not the reason why Android is going haywire.

I think the biggest downside of Google's handling of Android is the way the end users have been consistently receiving inconsistent user experiences and are suffering at the hands of phone manufacturers. This is also one of the main reasons why Android phones have very little shelf lives and in some cases, a phone looks completely outdated a mere six-eight months from its release. A prime example of this is the HTC Tattoo, a phone that impressed when it was launched but quickly became obsolete before you could even say 'obsolescence.' Another example is the Samsung Galaxy Tab, an Android device that promised much but ultimately collapsed under the weight of expectations. It was certainly an ambitious device at the time of its launch but in retrospect probably not deserving of too much praise especially if you consider how broken its Web browsing experience was thanks to Flash. Then, of course, you have phones such as the Micromax Andro, a clear move by the manufacturer to take advantage of the term 'Android' and palm off a sub-par quality device on to consumers.

Android is now at risk of such a degree of fragmentation that it will be difficult to pick up the pieces later. I've heard people compare it to Windows and say that Android's ubiquity will benefit Google in a similar way to how the PC OS benefited Microsoft. What's forgotten is that at the end of the day, Microsoft had sole control over the user experience- over how the OS would look, feel, work. In Android's case, every big and small manufacturer is adding their two cents' worth and corroding the OS. Also, like in the case of the Miromax Andro, the manufacturer used the OS without understanding what it needs in terms of hardware and as a result you get a terrible, terrible phone.

So, what can Google do? In this case, it needs to take a leaf out of Apple's book and take over the way Android is used by phone manufacturers. It will lead to some flak but that is the only way it will work. At the risk of sounding very naive, I think Google has to think about what the end user will get in terms of a device rather than what a phone manufacturer is willing to give.

Having full control over Android but with a vibrant group of manufacturers interested in the OS will give Google plenty of advantages over Apple the most important of which will be a wide set of different looking handsets which all work the same way so that the end user knows immediately what to expect from an Android handset.

This isn't a democracy. This is you paying your money to get a device that should suit your needs and the only way to ensure that is with control in the right pair of hands and in this case, there's no one better than Google themselves. Openness is always a great thing to have but not at the cost of usability. And great usability is something that defines all great products.

Source : pcworld

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