Ooo I hate it when you guys rub my nose in Android fragmentation! Bullies. But some big news hit the Android world late last night, that Gingerbread (the latest Android phone OS) is available for thirty phones and it’s stable. The catch, it’s a custom rom. Gotta root and unlock your bootloader.

But still, in the Android world, unlike WP7, my people for whatever reason tend to have fun getting under the hood of their phone. And this custom rom, it’s not a single chef, it’s a franchise, a team with a community of its own behind it, a brand, prolific, reliable, mysteriously badass. And popular as hell. As for voiding your warranty or whatever, I have returned my share of phones over the years without even bothering to restore them to stock (winmo) and AT&T either didn’t give a shit or their warranty department isn’t full of XDA-sniffing bloodhounds. Really, the thing’s more stable than the stock rom and, other than having to install it rather than it being on your phone out of the box, there are no deficits versus its stock counterparts.

So given that this is the latest and greatest Android you can put on your phone (if it’s one of the thirty devices on the list) and given its popularity (its name reveals millions of google hits and its XDA Nexus One thread has two million views), given that everyone who’s used it considers this to be as stable as stock roms (but better) even the nightlies, also given that the large group of people involved in its development collectively decided to call last nights mega release Stable, to me that makes it for my people a de facto viable option that’s not just for the extremely obsessed nerds among us, so would this qualify in your mind as progress in the battle against fragmentation? A non-event? Making the situation worse? It’s a good question.

Man you guys are mean sometimes, the way you swarm around me and spit on my self esteem.

Doug Simmons

18 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve never seen this degree of organization and collaboration and it’s unique to Android. With WinMo it was ragtag. Also with WinMo because no one really knew, not even XDA, whether the custom rom thing was legal, illegal or tantamount to brown paper bagging a forty on the corner. Walking on eggshells all the time, panicking if someone posts another Swype cab, just a big messy gray area of confusion and no damn changelogs on the CE builds and to this day I don’t know how some of those guys, Da_G in particular who seemed pretty zero day, got those fresh builds. Were they stolen? One of them have a friend in Microsoft who leaks these through Tor on his lunchbreak? Did Microsoft do this themselves and on purpose, reaping benefits for the XDA development, only sending out legal threats every once in a while? How many roms you’ve seen with an IRC channel devoted to it with about 500 people in it? It has the same amount of people in it now as the regular Android channel. Most people going on IRC like this for phone stuff probably are curious about things involving a rooted phone, but still, that’s a lot of interest in this thing proportionally to the general Android channel in which this thing is also discussed.

    As for WP7, what progress has been made in terms of customization? I understand you can use some modified Microsoft tool to install an official but not in most cases officially released software update and recently there’s been some progress with editing the Windows registry. Though it hasn’t shown up in the Focus forum to use the most popular WP7 phone and XDA as an example, extract files, some partitioning and a space freeing hack and roms may be out or around the corner. A lot of really bright people behind that and they’re trying very hard. To continue to use XDA as a barometer, the number of posts in the top non-device-specific WP7 forums are about to overtake WinMo’s respective forums cumulatively and WinMo has almost as much popularity and has been around a bit longer. So this isn’t a lack of motivation thing, people suddenly having no need or desire to do the XDA thing now that they’ve finally got a perfect phone. The energy’s there, so’s the talent. But are the ringtones even there yet?

    But what’s also there is a whole lot of brain hours in Redmond to lock those phones down ultra tight. How WP7ites unlock their phone? Who the hell knows, gotta steal some encryption signature key from some company I suppose. My phone? Download a free program, no bloat, plug in the phone, ./android-sdk-linux[or Windows or Mac]/tools/adb oem unlock. Or grab one of these one click things from the market. Carrier, OEM unlock, root, flash roms, flash radios, partion, choose the filesystem for your partitions, overclock your ass off, whatever you want to do today. Me, it’s really nice out in NYC, think I ought to break away from that stuff for a few hours. But when I get back I’ll test out a new launcher (new UI kind of thing), though I might as well note that no rooting is required to do that. Got a 800MHz G2 and want to overclock it to over 2GHz? Go right ahead.

    Maybe for shits and giggles I’ll install this WP7 theme. Nah.

    My highlighting Android in this way is not just because I have a distorted perspective but because Google went in one direction on this stuff and Microsoft went in the opposite. So there really isn’t much yet to talk about in terms of those development and hacking forums for Windows Phone phones. Mostly brainstorming with a small handful of instances of tangible progress — and in one instance to be summarily stung out of left field by a condemnation blog post and an email to you from Microsoft asking you to knock it off, subsequent chatter being conspiracy theories as to whether Microsoft was lying because AT&T told them to or were the warnings of bricking and no more updates true.

    WP7 compared to WinMo has a chock full o’ restrictions and I don’t know why you guys shrugged that off so easily. Fourteen months ago I wrote this for what used to be our main site, fuzemobility, and though we didn’t bother to copy over all the comments to this site when we made the switch, if I recall everybody was really disappointed by hit after hit of articles saying No cabs, No removable storage boo, No upgrading your HD2 and on and on and eventually that anger morphed into acceptance, optimism, enthusiasm, a big chunk of our audience turned from angry villagers into Microsoft apologists.

    Me, I eventually said screw this, screw blownfuze.org and tilt2.blownfuze.org (don’t update it but I still keep it up), let’s see what Google’s cooked up. Help diversify this site a bit which was one of my biggest personal selling points. And it has, by the way. Contrary to how it might smell here we get roughly as much Android device traffic as Microsoft, iPhones. Not counting iPads and other platforms, we’re evenly split give or take.

    And that’s a beautiful thing. Sort of like this:

  2. Wow… I love that part that singles the Android community out as if they’re inventing the wheel with this stuff. This all sounds sooooooo familiar, not in a *bad* way, but in a ‘yeah, that ultimate instability gets old’ way.

    Either way I think it’s cool. Always love to hear the latest and or greatest in the world of “Windows Mobile 7.XX”
    Oh wait…

    ;-)

  3. “WP7 compared to WinMo has a chock full o’ restrictions and I don’t know why you guys shrugged that off so easily”

    Is this what this is all about? You ranting all the time because people migrated to WP7 unlike you?

  4. You’re right.

    There is no more fragmentation issue.

    It’s now an education issue.

    We need to educate the hundreds of millions of LOSERS who don’t know how to root their phones and install something better.

  5. Simmons you SoAB that women is hot and she made me forget the rant I was about to go on. Anyway the truth is as you stated, Android decided to go one way and Microsoft the other. The open source claim to Android does give an openness to the community dev efforts. now only if the OEMs could optimize the hardware.

  6. Ultimately and I’m talkin in a few years when all the Android nubies have lived through their 12/24 month contracts you’ll see. The world does not have enough smart people in it to keep an open system lucrative. The nubies will run back to iFruit_rev9 and the developers will go broke because (for profit) businesses will not want to keep making handsets and supportin them for the few hackers that are rooting them and pirating devs warez. Meanwhile those who sucked it in are still being supported by the masses of ignorants who tried WP7 because they wanted an alternative or to try Nokia again. A very small fraction of the OS base know what XDA is. Therefore as far as the remaining 99.5% of the android base is concerned, fragment City baby!

  7. The reason it seems more organized with Android is because it’s supported, if not encouraged. Hell it’s even built into the wide-open market. With Winmo it wasn’t so much supported as it seemed like it was looked at as “yeah sure why the hell not… it’s your’s do what you want”.

    Support aside, it’s the same thing.
    To some that matter most, but to me… not so much anymore. I hate… LOATHE shells. Can’t stand ’em for shit! I also gre to hate the in-device fragmentation. Things looked and were different within every app, page, etc.
    I’m not saying the nazi-ways of apple are cool, but I have certainly grown to love WP. No need to go into all the why’s, and all that I just love it. Is it the best?
    Depends on what “best” means. But for me, and my limited uses with the other OS’s, it’s far and away the best.

  8. Hmm, Simmons wrote a follow-up article to his article….

    I will offer up this simple explanation for why I avoided Android after my previous experience with Blackberry, iPhone and WinMo 6 –

    I grew up. BlackBerry was too restrictive, iPhone is bowing to the evil empire and great if you’re a lemming. WinMo had a nice selection of devices but the os was an Edsel. Android is evil empire / WinMo 6 round 2. I wanted the best of it all, not more of the same. So I took a chance and went WinPhone instead. Boy was that ever the right decision.

    And 500 people in a IRC chat channel just confirmed it.

  9. WP7 doesn’t need customization. Android needs it because it’s an ugly, choppy, laggy, fragmented mess, that’s also not very intuitive to use. Android is sh*t. I know because it was my first phone.

  10. Doesn’t need customization, even the most fervent WP7 zealots around here have indicated the opposite and strongly. Flipping through places like XDA, though the progress has been stifled apparently by the phones being effectively locked down, people are working collaboratively and very hard to break these chains to customize disproportionately to other platforms including WinMo in terms of volume of participation in such forums relative to the platform’s age and popularity.

    Joe, if Android is shit and WP7 is so fantastic, why does it feel like Windows Phone will never manage to climb out of obscurity and Android will continue to rise? Or do you think the tides will change soon?

  11. You’re wrong. WP7 fans love the UI as it is. They don’t need or want a bunch of HTC or Samsung nonsense applied to WP7. We like our phone the way it is. What we want is for the lumbering behemoth known as Microsoft to get off it’s butt and update the platform quickly and more often. That’s far different from putting a bunch of crap all over the phone. Even Android fans are tired of the UI layers that Samsung and HTC put all over their Android phones. I’ve talked to many who would prefer vanilla Android.

    As for hackers, they will always try to set their own agenda. But people like Chevron are not trying to turn WP7 in Android. Neither Microsoft nor fans of WP7 want to deal with the massive, pain in the ass fragmentation of Android. That’s the last thing anyone wants.

    As for Android being so successful, of course that means it’s a great product. That’s why Transformers 2 is such an Oscar caliber piece of work. Not! Sales success is never indicative of quality. The success of Android only proves that Google hit the market at the right time, and that consumers are blind sheep.

    As for Microsoft’s position in the mobile industry, they only have themselves to blame. They had the smartphone market wrapped up, and then they decided to sit on their ass and do nothing for two years while Apple at their lunch. If they want back into this industry, they will have to fight and claw their way back in. They’ll be number 3 in the market at worst when it’s all said and done. Of course I could point to how Android languished for quite a while before it took off with the Droid.

    If you want a perfect example of why I dumped Android for WP7, follow the link.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZEdxqZt6uw

    LOL! If Android on far more powerful hardware can’t keep up with WP7, what does that tell you, aside from the fact that it still doesn’t have hardware acceleration.

    Remember this Doug, Android is not a software company. They’re an ad company. Their software sucks. The only software they’ve ever made worth a damn is Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Earth/Sky, and Earth/Sky pales in comparion to Worldwide Telescope.

    Why I’m bothering to respond to you is beyond me. You’re a Google sycophant with an intense hatred of Microsoft. You are a prime example of what’s wrong with tech journalism. You’re a sycophant without a hint of objectivity. So you have no credibility and the reputation you are building for yourself as a tech journalist is not one to be proud of.

  12. For what it’s worth, I realize customization goes deeper than UI layers. But that was just a simple example.

    Excuse me on the Android is not a software company. Of course I meant to say Google.

  13. Good point with the Transformers, but you can’t really attribute climbing past the competition one by one straight past Apple and RIM to the top to good timing, especially when many said that they were too late.

    Are you sure about that, that Google is not a software company? What do they do that does not involve software? If you want to call Android, Chrome and everything they do on their side that is web based, not to mention Google Code (ever been there?) exceptions … I don’t know, to say that Google is not a software company just because of the paths most of the money they earn takes to get into accounts receivable which is unique, that it’s indirect, so therefore software of such a company is inherently bad, it just strikes me as wrong and stupid, your point.

    I’m not a fan of Sense, I’m not a fan of AT&T interference, not a fan of being locked down at all (bootloaders, sideloading and the like), not a fan of having to use Samsung’s contact manager and so on. Some people like MotoBLUR and whatever else, me, I like stock interface, whatever Google packages together, with the option to install my own launcher/UI with or without root. I don’t know these frustrations you’re talking about firsthand with Google as my first phone was the Nexus One and then the Nexus S. Was yours? Nice phones, got both within arm’s reach, couldn’t bring myself to sell my Nexus One even though there still was enough demand for it on ebay to keep the price close to $500 so far after it was released. Remember this Doug. Bullshit point. Other than any ads I may run into being better targeted, tell me what I’m seeing on my phone that was the product of a lot of software developers who were apparently reminded every minute that they’re paid to make things that help their ad business and if it doesn’t do that then don’t work hard on it.

    A valid point to toss around on a site like this is that given by admissions (accusations) on sites like this from WP7 owners that Microsoft is handling WIndows Phone as if it’s been shelved or forgotten, a point to which I responded that maybe they discovered finally they’d get a better return on investments into other operations given the worse than expected flop, would that contribute more or less to slipshod software than what a company’s “core” function is? “Remember this” — I’ll remember a point if you make a good one.

    I’ve never criticized, other than saying “fruity tiles or whatever,” Microsoft’s phone UI. In fact I’ve never said anything negative about the software itself. But since I need to be reminded to remember things like your questionable contentions, maybe you could point an instance of the opposite out to me so I can “take responsibility” and retract this paragraph.

    How much deeper than UI stuff and ringtones does it go, Joe? Heard people have been working really hard on getting more sections of the phone’s registry exposed to manipulation. What for? Why the efforts to partition and extract system files? What does The DllImport Project sound like to you, an XDA thread with 12000 views, a presence of tepid or torrid XDA interest in WP7 hacking even deeper than your acknowledgement of it going “deeper than the UI layers.” How much deeper a target is there? Sometimes before I just say shit, like whether or not there is WP7 hacking interest relative to the other platforms relative to those platforms’ popularity I do things like add up all the posting volume and forum activity on sites like XDA, though mainly XDA, and compare them to what they were previous times I did it. Plus our server logs, plus what gets written here by the WP authors and the likes of you and also things like this.

    I have over a hundred RSS feeds including two Microsoft sections which I share with the other writers for their official blogs, their developer blogs, WP equivalents to something like Phandroid, blogs of experts on Microsoft, the Bing team (though I try to avoid reblogging, rather I make an effort to churn out quasi-OC)…

    Feel free to forget this but in addition to having fun with this, maybe more than you’d like me to, I do my homework and know my shit. Lazy? I spent hours putting each of these two together. Original research, not just googling. You think MJ Siegler at Techcrunch would have, to produced these three numbers in this article “went up threefold, twelve times as much etc” cranked through commands like this, “root@batteryboss:/var/log/apache# grep ‘Windows Phone’ mobility-access.log | grep ‘Apr/2011’ | grep -v weave-mob > winpho_minus_weave.log” to try to offer something to support a point he was making? I didn’t have to do that, once I saw the data from the first round I got the point, but why not, I worked hard to set it up just so I could snag that data on each pageview, other data for the iPhone/Android views and finally for RSS views, so I used it and because I didn’t go on and on about it to defend myself here until you came along I didn’t do it to try to show off.

    The reason I’m welcome here is, frankly, because overall I’m an asset to this site in a variety of ways and combined with that and that this is fun and that whole operation presents challenges of various sorts, that makes me want to take advantage of that invitation. Some do but not everyone shares your opinion either about me or for that matter Android. That you think that is egotistical in an uglier way I often come off. The reason I posted in this thread was because I’m interested in Gil who started helping us out with content not to long ago, wanted to see his style, liked it, then I saw this Frank jerkoff which bothered me so I jumped in. Team effort here. No money’s changing hands. Meaning, though I bait flame, Gil may not, so I’ll try to get his back, which is why I posted in his NoDo disappoint thread.

    Moving on, since you’ve been on both sides making you more of an expert than I am, care to settle an argument by clarifying whether the name NoDo is a shot at Android (that Android Donuts was underwhelming in terms of improving phones noticeably whereas Microsoft’s update was huuuuuge despite what Gil said, same kind of silliness that leads to mock funerals of things that managed not to flop) or just something about a donuts incident in Redmond? Thurrott’s word versus some employee’s twitter comment if that helps you.

  14. Damn Joe, you must have made Simmons mad. He’s using periods instead of commas and getting his point across. Impressive.

    I know I regularly trash Simmons, but in some ways we should thank him. While he’s more passionate about his idiotic thoughts, his premise isn’t any different than most other media. At least here we can vent and not get permabanned.

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