“Be together, not the same” is the advertising sentiment and words behind Google’s current Android commercials. The statement alludes to what naysayers do not like about the Android operating system and call it “fragmentation,” that is, it is very easy to buy two different Android devices and wind up with very different devices. To one individual, a market may be fragmented but to another, it brings choice. The reality is somewhere between these two – there are many devices out in the wild that are running an obsolete version of Android because they have not been updated by the manufacturer. This form of fragmentation happens all over the industry but appears more prevalent with Android devices because there are more of them compared with other operating systems. Google have made inroads into smoothing the software update process by requiring that manufacturers release a device with a reasonably current version of Android and that devices are supported for a period of time with a promise to update the software to the current version. This is helping pull the average version number of in-service Android devices closer to the current version. We have also seen Google release monthly security patches for devices designed to improve how safe and secure our devices are and a small number of manufacturers have promised to keep a limited number of their devices up to date. We are a long way from how Windows Update keeps millions of Windows computers updated but we are – slowly – moving in this direction.
The other form of fragmentation is because customers have a choice of hardware to run Android: we can buy devices with different screen sizes, resolutions and technologies. We have multiple chipset vendors producing System-on-Chips for smartphones. Some devices have hardware keyboards, others have dual cameras, some have replaceable batteries and expandable storage – the list goes on. We are even seeing modular smartphone designs, such as the new LG G5, that give the customer a choice of optional add on hardware modules. Google itself is working on Project Ara, which is a modular smartphone design where customers can pick and choose the hardware for their device and swap out components during the lifetime of the smartphone. And we have even seen flexible smartphone designs, matching the iPhone 6’s bendable chassis.
Google’s latest Android commercial under the “be together, not the same” branding is called “Rock, Paper, Scissors” and tells the story of how three different characters become friends to overcome bullying. There is perhaps a deeper meaning to the commercial – how three members of opposing tribes can become friends in the face of school bullies – or Google are simply taking a well understood metaphor and applying some Android ideology to the concept. Whatever the reason, you can watch the embedded YouTube clip below.