Google’s best shot at Android defragmentation

Google is serving up the Moto X phone this week, with enthusiasm building toward the Android phone based on the sheer fact that it’s from Google itself. And the timing couldn’t be better or more needed. Samsung and HTC, the only two Android vendors whose U.S. sales amount to more than a rounding error, have both just warned that their Android sales this quarter are coming up short. Samsung just failed, by Samsung standards at least, with the disappointing sales of its Galaxy S4. HTC is failing on all counts, with its First a flop and its One merely middling. And no other Android vendors are picking up the sales slack, meaning that Android momentum has left the building. That places the burden squarely on the shoulders of Google, the ringleader of the once flourishing and suddenly endangered Android project, to bring momentum back to the stalled platform. And the Moto X may be just the ticket.

The biggest complaints about Android phones, and the reasons why so many Android users bail on the platform in favor of the iPhone, are straightforward: Android is jalopy in nature with its hardware coming from one place and its system software coming from somewhere else and none of it quite gelling in a way that anyone but a geek could love.
Google’s fix is to make the Android platform more iPhone-like in structure by offering a cohesive Moto X phone whose hardware and system software are designed in tandem. No worries about fragmentation or dead ended upgrades. No problems with app incompatibility created by that fragmentation. No passing the buck where the vendor and the carrier blame each other for the shortcomings. Just one perfectly cohesive Moto X, which offers all the practical advantages of Android without any of the multitude of caveats that come with every phone from corner cutting mercenary vendors like Samsung.

With the Moto X phone we find out whether Google’s acquisition of Motorola translates into the kind of cohesive Android experience which thus far hasn’t existed, or whether the buyout really was just about patent trolling. With the world of hurt the third party Android vendors are finding themselves in, the platform needs it to be the former.

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