Will your Android get ICS? Fragmentation still an issue

by Kristen Nicole

Android faces several challenges in the mobile market, including Microsoft’s nagging determination to catch up in the smartphone sector, having revealed a slew of new Lumia devices with partner Nokia. Microsoft’s Mango platform has yet to prove itself a true contender when pitted against Android or iOS, and both these leading operating systems have recently undergone a major overhaul in an effort to stay ahead of the game. But even with the unveiling of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Android still faces a few obstacles of its own doing.

While the Samsung Galaxy Nexus will be the first handset to run Android 4.0, the Nexus One is being left out of the ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ party. It’s bad news for Nexus One owners, as its hardware isn’t new enough to run ICS. Well, the phone only came out last year, leaving many consumers wondering whether or not their relatively new Android devices will get an ICS update.

It’s a question Google has yet to answer definitively, leaving experts to their own devices. CNET’s Maggie Reardon attempts to address consumer concern over ICS updates, noting Google’s response that there are no specific hardware requirements for ICS, but it’s “unlikely that Android devices that are a couple of years old would get the update.” So while iPhone users are able to take part in the iOS 5 update all at once, Android users will have to sit tight until the ICS update works its way down from Google to device manufacturers and eventually the carriers.

Fragmentation lives on

“The main challenge in the tablet market continues to be differentiation,” says Richard Shim, an analyst at DisplaySearch. “There are still too many tablets offering similar usage experiences, making it difficult to compete with the entrenched player, Apple and its iPad, and leading to a price-driven market.”

It turns out, fragmentation is still a major issue for Android, despite the unifying promise of ICS. Michael DeGusta has an in-depth chart outlining OS updates over the years, resulting in a great visualization of Android’s “sad history of support.”