Ahh, Droid. We barely knew ye . . .
This week, Google introduced a version of Google Earth for Android SmartPhones. In large part, I don’t care; Google Earth is very cool, but compared to Google Maps it has limited real-world use.
And Google Earth requires version 2.1 of the Android operating system. Which means that it won’t run on the Droid, which has been available for just over three months.
Aside from being a Droid user and being in sour-grapes mode, maybe you think I shouldn’t care. You’d be wrong. Android is the fastest-growing operating system for SmartPhones, and Google is splintering the market for that operating system, which like Google Earth and the Nexus One is also a Google product.
Operating Systems don’t do very well when they get splintered this way. Just the introduction of viruses that act differently on one version than on another is all the proof you need of that. In fact, be cynical if you like about the Microsofts of the world being after your money, but the real reason you have to eventually upgrade to a new version of Windows even if you think you don’t need it is because unless you do you’re open to all kinds of security threats.
I sometimes pick on Apple for the heavy-handed way they control the Macintosh OS and iPhone OS, but users of both sure do get consistent behavior, don’t they?
Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” slogan is feeling more and more like a line of . . . nothing. And as a business consultant I understand that they need to make (lots of) money. But to be as involved in the marketing of the Droid as Google was and after such a short period of time leave its users behind as they try to sell more Google-branded phones (the Droid is supported by Motorola, not Google) is just . . . bad. Evil. Wrong.
By the way: while Google Earth officially requires Android 2.1, People who use Android 2.01 can get it to work by going here.
You know . . . assuming there’s no virus.
Google doesn’t control Android as much as you think, AND it is up to the individual handset manufacturers and carriers how quickly they want to roll out support for the latest and greatest features.
Android is playing catch-up to iPhoneOS in many ways, so Google and the Android community are pushing hard to knock out new versions with new features as fast as they can.
If you want those new features faster and the ability to run the software that takes advantage of them, but can’t, don’t blame Google. They’re not the ones who locked your phone and made you wait until Motorola and Verizon can get their collective butts in gear to release an update to Droid users.
Motorola and Verizon are the ones preventing you from getting 2.1, not Google.
Greg, you are absolutely correct that Google is not the responsible party for the update. That said, my point was that the way they have chosen to manage Android, though a great idea in theory, is damaging it severely. You simply cannot leave development and update of an operating system to uncontrolled third parties.
Droid was merely the example I chose, based on its installed base and the amount of press Google (and Verizon and Motorola) cultivated before it was launched.
Thanks for your analysis and comment, by the way; feel free to call me out like that any time!
I see your point. Right now it does feel disorganized and out of sync.
There’s no Steve Jobs handing down laws like Moses… Thou shalt not run Flash, thou shalt not run interpreted languages, thou shalt only code in objective C. So everyone’s sort of feeling their way around.
That’s the problem with freedom. You’re free to screw things up, and that’s what many of these third parties are doing.
The question is whether they’re screwing things up so badly that they’re going to kill Android or whether these are simply the growing pains that will lead to the coolest phone OS available.
And you, my friend, are experiencing “early adopter anguish.” You might not think you’re an early adopter, but you are.
Windows didn’t get decent until Windows 95 (the version that followed 3.11). Up until OS X, I thought Mac stood for My Apple Crashed (look out, he’s got a bomb… on his screen!). Even iPhone OS didn’t get really decent until version 3.
Android just lept from, 1.6 to 2.0 when the Droid released 4 months ago and you’re mad about the lack of 2.1 on your Droid.
You’re an early adopter, and nothing hurts like buying something that looks so cool and promising, but is waiting for the whole supporting ecosystem to mature to a point that lets it fulfill its promise.
I went through this when I tried to run Linux on my brand new AlienWare PC with the first consumer Athlon64 chip from AMD in it, only to find out the new x86-64 linux distro that Suse charged an arm and a leg for was still lacking 64-bit driver support for my graphics card, RAID card, motherboard, NIC, etc…
I’ve been through this. I know the signs. I’ve written blog posts like this. I’m not going to say that you’re wrong. I think there’s a chance you are, but we’ll only know in the fullness of time.