Android appears to have more problems than Jay-Z (who claims to have 99 problems in one of his songs).
One of the problems is financial: you need economies of scale to take on Apple in the tablet game, and if you’re not selling many tablets, which individual Android manufacturers aren’t, then you’re going to have to cut corners or go for microscopic margins (or both) to keep your kit competitive. That keeps you in Tesco Value territory.
Fragmentation is another issue. Where Apple has a single version of iOS at any given time, Android is all over the shop – a tablet running 2.2 here, a 2.0 tablet there, a 3.1 over there – and that causes issues for developers, as does some manufacturers’ use of non-standard Android app stores and user interfaces. It confuses the hell out of customers too, and that’s before you include Chrome OS. More?
There are legal issues to consider – Android has been described as a “lawsuit magnet” – and manufacturers are bound to be worried about Google’s acquisition of Motorola and whether that means Moto kit will get preferential treatment. Some firms, such as HTC, might even buy their own mobile OS to differentiate themselves from all the other Android firms.
And then there are the enemies without and within: Microsoft and Amazon. Windows 8 may well turn out to be a huge horse’s arse of an operating system, but from what we’ve seen so far that doesn’t seem likely, as its UI is in Metro form which is fun in a way Android isn’t. Despite Microsoft’s love of different Windows incarnations you won’t need to study spec sheets to work out whether you’re getting current Windows, last year’s Windows or two years ago’s Windows . And then there’s Amazon, who reckons the secret of a successful Android tablet is to hide all the Android bits – the UI, the Market, and everything else.
The Way Out
The good news, though, is that this is all fixable. All Google needs to do is combine Gingerbread, Honeycomb and ChromeOS, improve the UI, stop manufacturers from meddling, running their own app shops or forking the code, sort out the marketing, be better than Windows 8, iOS 5 and Amazon, defeat the lawsuits and find a way for Android firms to deliver Apple quality, desirability and profitability for sub-Apple prices.