28 September 2011

The Path Of Android: Origins, Past and Present

Well, a very quck look at it. Otherwise i would need to write a whole book to fully live up to that title

Android Andy


I have been reflecting and thinking about Android lately. Something that is not the norm for me. As am not an Android user. I am a WP7 user (HTC HD2 FTW!).

My thoughts about Android have been mostly about how it is falling lower and lower into the ground in regard of what its principles, ideals and goals originally were. Just as its sales continue to rise into the Sky by the aggregated summation of the Android powered device ecosystem.

Back when Android started. Its original goal was to take on Blackberry, Symbian and Windows Mobile in one go. The design of the original Android OS 1.0 and the prototype hardware devices certainly reflected that in strides. Then the iPhone happened. And thanks to the mistakes and missteps of the mobile industry the previous 2 years to its introduction. The iPhone just had no contest as the first consumer focused high-end Smartphone.

What happened was that the iPhone had a full opening for a whole year. But Google then recognized that thanks to the state of their Android OS development. They were the ones closest to be able to respond to it.

Responded they did with a redesigned Android OS that learned from iOS 1.0 and from the iPhone 1, while still not forgetting about how the rest of the Smartphone market worked. Then for some reason Google decided to pretty much copy up Windows Mobile strategy. While most don't remember and many Android Zealots do not want to remember. At one point for a very brief time. Windows Mobile got to be the #1 high-end Smartphone platform. Then Blackberry quickly took the lead out of Windows Mobile. Nokia at the time was too content with being #1 of the mid and low end. They just didn't cared. So much they didn't cared even with the release of the iPhone One. That they didn't revived their All-Touchscreen Smartphone prototype from 2005.

That is right, Nokia had the iPhone before Apple. Theirs was what now some of us know as resistive-assistive. But it was besides all that just like the iPhone hardware-wise. Others had their all-touchscreen smartphone prototypes too all the way back to 2005 in similar conditions. LG had what eventually would become the LG Prada that was announced in late 2006 i believe. HTC had the HTC Touch prototype (called clio i think). And Sony Ericsson -- No, really -- had a similar prototype based on their really cool P line (remember the P990?). That had taken stuff they had learned from Clie PDA's. But in the end they all acted slow as hell. Didn't wanted to compromise, and in general just feared to change the status quo of the times. a deliciously profitable status quo.

Microsoft of course is also the largest to blame here. As they had botched what was a pretty amazing -- for the times -- Windows Mobile update codenamed Photon. Which was going to be called Windows Mobile 7. But as cool as it was. It had the very same development problem that Windows Longhorn had. It was over ambitious. way ahead of time and close to impossible to execute in current commercial hardware. But Microsoft was keen and possibly completely blind to the very fresh at the time scenario that was the reality of the Windows Team, as they just had over a year before having to call it quits on longhorn and started over into what would become Vista. And blind they were, as Microsoft stupidly tried to make Photon on top of an unfinished Win CE 6.0.

Meaning that basically it was just a hacked up Win CE 5.0 with too much stuff forced down its throat. And long story short while the software was mostly operative. Because of the core for the OS was unstable, unfinished and patched. It leaked memory like crazy (think Firefox 2.0) and used too much CPU (think Firefox 1.0 ) over time. Making it impossible for it to work. And that is why there was a WM 6.1.x (not officially named that) and WM 6.5 (with 3 releases).

The problem? many hardware partners were waiting on photon to pan out. As they were having similar problems with their versions of Symbian. Back when, i kid you not, there were as many variants of Symbian as there are linux distros.

Then here came Google. All bright-eyed and stuff. talking out loud that they had just what the industry needed. They would give hardware makers something that was like Windows Mobile, but FREE, Open Source!, NON-Windows, Very Google.

But that Google also wanted to change the world. That they would do it by giving more control to the user by retaining more control themselves (so nice of Google) of how Android devices were used and sold by the carriers, not by what they could had in them.

This part you already know very well how it panned out. Google had to backtrack, too to a spin their backtracking with the release of the nexus one. Started gaining enemies. Started abusing their power with the supposedly Open Source of Android.

But more importantly? The past started to catch up with them on how they managed to develop that redesigned, more-iOS-like Android OS 1.0 so fast.  Like, unnaturally fast.

All thanks to Java. All thanks to Sun Microsystem dying. And when the SUN was blacking out. Google mistakenly decided to not lend a hand and license Java. All for mere 400 million for a whole 10 years. Or so one rumors goes. But with the official stance going that there was another deal for 100 million for 3 years. One that dictated that Google had to collaborate with SUN. Google then just decided to wait for the SUN to go supernova. Not counting with an Oracle coming in to the rescue. Yes, that last part is sarcasm.

An Oracle controlled by a very powerful Business Wizard. With the rest of that part of the story now being decided in court.

Microsoft on the other side of the story. Just looked at Android and said:

"We will charge for our patented tech, thank you very much"

Something that may not make sense for many of you Android fans. But you also don't understand how many deals Google actually did -- More like had no choice but do them -- with Microsoft for many tech parts. It is not just ActiveSync and Exchange i assure you. Microsoft knows perfectly what is that they are charging for. Part of Google knows it too. But of course that it cannot say anything about it. Otherwise why you think Google has not made but snarky petty remarks at Microsoft collecting their monies?

They instead apparently decided they would also copy a lot of Metro Design, Many more of Windows Mobile old strategies and stuff like that. I mean the look of the  Web Android Market? the new mobile one? C'mon!.

And now to the point. YES, finally, i know.

Android Today is not the Android of yesterday. Certainly nowhere near how Android was supposed to be. It is no longer even really Open Source on the eyes of many, not just the FSF. And the most successful Android Devices?  Happen to be the ones that have forfeited their Google Heritage, or the ones that stray from it. First the Nook Color, then the Vizio Slate, now soon the Kindle Fire. With others like that also in the way.

Android Today is now becoming more of just a Brand. It will depend on how Google deals with it the next 6-9 months, if they let the future of Android be taken away completely from them. If we will see a full divergence on what Android powered actually means.





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