Android fragmentation isn’t the issue, says Google’s Eric Schmidt

by Kristen Nicole

The topic of Android fragmentation comes up often, especially with the bubbling anticipation over new Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich devices (or lack thereof). Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt hoped to clarify some of the issues around Android fragmentation during his presentation at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, saying “differentiation is positive, fragmentation is negative.”

“Differentiation means that you have a choice and the people who are making the phones, they're going to compete on their view of innovation, and they're going to try and convince you that theirs is better than somebody else.”

ICS for all

Schmidt brings up a touchy subject, as one of his company’s primary goals is to get everyone on ICS, the latest version of the platform. He then digs into Apple for their short-sighted vision in what the mobile experience should be, praising ICS for its differentiated interface in opposition of the iPhone’s standardization.

“It's not required that everyone use the same interface,” Schmidt said. “People are free to make the necessary changes. What's great is if you don't like it, you can buy the phone from someone else.”

Device catch-up

So far Google’s a bit behind on their plans to get every Android user on ICS, which has less than 1 percent of the market. About 55 percent of Android devices are still on ICS’s predecessor, Gingerbread, according to Google’s most recent stats. CES is a testing ground for Ice Cream Sandwich hopefuls, as nearly every Android manufacturer has revealed an upcoming device for the refreshed OS, including a television set from Lenovo.

Intel is also at CES with hopes to promote Android products, teaming with Motorola on a multi-year, multi-device partnership. There’s few details on what devices they’ll make, whether they’ll be smartphones or tablets (or both), or when they’ll be released. But what Intel did have to show was a smartphone that runs on their new Medfield processor, manufactured by Lenovo for China’s market. This is all part of Intel’s larger strategy to make its way into the mobile scene, which has been dominated by competitors like ARM.