Joshua Topolsky writes in today’s Washington Post about “Android’s identity crisis,” describing how the wide range of customized and operator-modified Android devices is causing confusion in the market. The primary cause of this confusion, he concludes, is carrier preference for devices they can customize and control, and Google’s unwillingness (or inability) to control the fragmentation.
For example, Verizon is promoting the Motorola RAZR instead of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, because “unlike the Galaxy Nexus, the RAZR is a device that Verizon (and Motorola) can tweak and control to their liking. In essence, the phonemakers get to establish a narrative about what a Droid is and how it looks.”
The odd thing is that the “phonemakers” are barely present in this article. That quote includes the only mention of Motorola, which makes the RAZR, and only indirectly (in parentheses!). This seems to suggest an even bigger identity crisis for Motorola, which appears here as a minor player, with no influence over the features or marketing of its products. In the American Android world as Topolsky describes it, Google defines the consumer experience, and the carriers control the positioning and marketing. The “phonemakers” are left to go quietly back to their factories.
Not sure what’s worse, having a bad reputation in the market or becoming irrelevant.
(p.s. for those who follow Nokia, I suspect this is one of the big reasons why Nokia chose to adopt Windows Phone over Android, to prevent just this loss of influence over the value chain)