October 31, 2011

The price of freedom?

Interesting post floating about the last few days, from the blog understatement.com, giving a different spin on the fragmentation issue that has plagued Android phones since the beginning. While iPhones get the OS up to date periodically, Android phones are essentially at the mercy of the carriers and the device manufacturers.

The post outlines the impact of this fragmentation on users, developers and the security of the phone itself.

The biggest impact though, I think, is in actual sales. Selling an outdated phone means you have fewer people who want to now commit to a two-year lock-in. People are still buying the iPhone 3, because they know that it is a phone that is actively being supported by Apple.

And yet, for me, there is another aspect of this that is not obvious from this picture. The world of modified software.

CyanogenMod calls itself an aftermarket firmware for Android phones. Essentially it is a modification of the Android OS, which, unlike the iOS, is Open Source. It provides additional features, not available to stock Android devices. But more importantly, the capability is not forced like with a jail-broken iPhone, but using pieces of the original Android OS itself.

Yes, the fragmentation of the Android market means I am going to delay my purchase till I am sure I am getting a version that is going to last me for at least two years. But it is also the price I am willing to pay - for a device that is actually mine.

At least for now.

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