Gruber’s been on a bit of a tear lately, pointing out the little inconsistencies in Android’s design values. I’ve been mulling on something for a while, and I think it just crystallised.
Android’s fragmentation is not of version numbers or upgrade cycles, but of values.
Consider the Great Flash Debate of 2010.
First, Android. Google and the handset makers made the design decision to support Flash. More to the point, they heavily marketed and promoted their products as being able to play Flash video when iPhones could not. Vocal support of a proprietary non-standard from the group that believes that ‘open always wins’. Android ignored its few open source values for an easy grab at market share.
Apple, on the other hand, a supposed walled garden. Except that they were promoting nascent HTML5 video. Apple endured the beating in the press, the marketing attacks from the makers of Android phones, and the dissatisfied customers. All to make the product better in the long run.
Actions, always louder than words.