23 June 2008

Fragmentation is easy, integration is hard

Filed under: Android, fragmentation, integration — David Wood @ 2:13 pm

The Wall Street Journal reports today that “Google’s Mobile-Handset Plans Are Slowed“. The Inquirer picks up the story and adds a few choice morsels of its own: “Depressing news as Google’s Android delayed“:

However, life’s little crises just kept getting the Android down and now apparently some mobile network operators like Sprint Nextel, have abandoned any attempt to get an Android on the market until 2009. This is purportedly because the majority of Google’s attention and resources have been going to Sprint’s competitor T-Mobile USA, who still hope to have an Android mobile out by the end of Q4. We have it on good authority (from un-named sources of course) that Sprint actually asked Google “Do you want me to sit in the corner and rust, or just fall apart where I’m standing?”…

Director of mobile platforms at Google, Andy Rubin, gloomily noted that trying to develop software while the company’s irritating partners kept pushing for new features, was a time-consuming task. “This is where the pain happens”, he sighed.

I recognise this pain. It’s something that has occurred many times during Symbian’s history. That’s why I’ve emphasised a dilemma facing Android: Fragmentation is easy, but integration is hard. Coping with multiple forceful customers at the same time, while your codebase is still immature, is a really tough challenge. Glitzy demos of v2 features don’t help matters: they drive up interest that needs to be deflated, as you have to explain to customers that, no, these features aren’t ready to include in the software package for their next phones, despite looking brilliant on YouTube. Instead, the focus needs to go on the hard, hard task of integration.

1 Comment »

  1. You have hit the proverbial nail on the head. I especially like the part about deflating expectations.

    We’ve been working on an integrated cross platform mobile solution for 2 1/2 years. It was really hard work (it’s now all working) – the demo’s we were able to knock up in a couple of days – making the core solution fully integrated into the browser and work cross platform is what Mobile is really all about. And that as you have correctly stated is where the really hard work begins.



    Comment by Peter J. Cranstone — 23 June 2008 @ 2:39 pm

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