The Consequences Of Open

It seems as though at least once a week I see an article in my RSS feed reader written by someone complaining about the different user experiences that exist on different Android phones. Everyone wants to compare Android with iOS and the truth of the matter is, the two smartphone platforms are significantly different. Apple tightly controls how iOS looks and works, while Google provides the base operating system in Android and allows developers to customize the experience.

Rather than thinking of every brand of phone running it as Android phones, I suggest that we ought to be looking at them in their unique instances. In other words, think of the Motorola Droid X as the phone running Motorola’s build of Android, and think of the Samsung Galaxy phones as running Samsung’s build of Android. The user experience is different on the Motorola and Samsung phones and that is by design, and the handset manufacturers like that because it enables them to differentiate.

The ability to differentiate is why so many companies are building Android phones, and frankly that is good for Google and it is good for users. In comparison, look at the Windows Phones from HTC, Samsung, and Dell. Physically the phones are different, but the software on each looks the same. With such little ability to differentiate, and with Nokia now planning to make phones running Windows Phone, my guess is that there will be even fewer companies making Windows Phones in the future than do now.

A wide selection of different smartphones is good for consumers. It provides options for picking the phone that is best of us and creates a market that should drive prices down. Google’s approach with Android is what is providing the amount of selection that is now available, and I think that is the price of openness. If you want a pure Google Android experience, buy a Google branded phone, which is currently the Samsung Nexus S, otherwise expect that other Android phone brands will have a slightly different experience. If you have a problem with that experience, take it to the handset manufacturers and not to Google.