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Can Android fix its OS issues before iPhone 5 hits stores?

by Kristen Nicole

Google’s updated a few of its Android apps this week, including Google+, its latest social project. The news of Google+ availability for all users and the inclusion of video chat was a jab at Facebook’s own social networking platform, which hosts the annual f8 conference today. But Google may not be able to outshine Apple in the remaining months of 2011, with rising expectations around an October launch for iPhone, even as Google looks to put an end to Android fragmentation.

Android’s next version, Ice Cream Sandwich, is expected to be released soon, though it may not happen before the next-gen iPhone hits stores. And even as Android is now the dominating OS in the US and other countries, its fragmented operating system disperses its OS versions across devices and creates obstacles for manufacturers, developers and carriers.

Android under fire

That ecosystem is under fire, with rivals out to get the new market leader. Windows Phone is even hoping to have its day in the sun, as 44 percent of smartphone owners have shown interest in a WP7 device for their next purchase, according to a survey conducted by NPD Group’s Connected Intelligence. Another recent report from Evans Data indicates that BlackBerry’s platform is better than Android for generating revenue on behalf of developers, though Android remains the best OS for developers overall.

Beyond the developer community, Android also encompasses Google’s search advertising, of which Oracle wants a piece. Day two of face-to-face talks between Google and Oracle CEOs failed to bring a settlement in the patent infringement case. A call will be scheduled today to determine when further discussions will take place, but it seems both Google and Oracle are standing in strong opposition of each other, unwilling to budge an inch.

Google has several fires to fight, a dire consequence of its rapid rise to fame and fortune. And in the midst of court battles, Google must also maintain Android’s core product, limiting others from surpassing its mobile platform’s capabilities, or from stealing its developer community away. There’s several aspects that require balance in Android’s growing ecosystem, and Google has no room to drop the ball.