Developers only now realizing that Android is not a platform

According to Gadget Lab, app writers have somehow just realized that the reason open source fails in customer-facing use cases (as opposed to back on the server in a locked room) is that it splits like a bead of mercury into a zillion different forms, and nobody can write apps that work across the platform because, strictly speaking, there is no “platform.”

There are just a bunch of different devices that have a lot in common with each other but aren’t quite the same. Trying to turn that into a “platform” is like trying to build a porch using three hundred pieces of wood, none of which are the same size. From the story:

A slew of problems have made managing Android apps a “nightmare,” they say, including three versions of the OS (Android 1.5, 1.6 and 2.0), custom firmware on many phones, and hardware differences between different models.

Dear friends, this is only going to get worse, not better. Think about it. Every handset maker wants its device to be different. And special. So they intentionally tweak the OS to give themselves what they think of as an “advantage,” when really it’s nothing of the sort, because all it does is prevent ISVs from writing apps for them. Even if the handset makers weren’t totally short-sighted and evil, there’s the competency issue — ie, even within a single company you’ve got a bunch of different teams of engineers, and they’re all using whichever version of Android was the latest and greatest when they started out on their project, or whichever version they happen to like best, and they’re all making their own tweaks and changes trying to outdo the guys across the hall, or in the next building. Yeah. You’re herding cats. Free as in freedom, my babies. Meanwhile, Jobso the Control Freak will continue to gain market share.

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