Android Secedes from Android
I myself own a HTC Droid Incredible, have rooted it, and have loaded Cyanogen Mod onto it. I am in the minority in the smartphone market. (The Verge is an exception) The majority of people don't want to go through that much trouble just to get their phone working. The result of this is fragmentation that has caused there to be different experiences depending upon the hardware manufacturer of your Android device. I look at Android as a whole platform and see how unwieldy it is. I love the freedom Android offers and the majority of the features that it provides. Here is the problem: there are no universal features, features that are the same across all devices. As such it is difficult to advertise Android as a platform. I think Android needs to be looked at from a different perspective than before. We aren't going to get a unified experience, it is just too far gone for that to occur. The idea of Google being in control would be nice to think about, but Android as an OS will only be able to function if hardware manufacturers are given complete freedom... or so we thought. So, what can be done about this to change things? Here is my proposed solution.
I apologize for the math terms, I know I'm not a big fan of it, but it is the only way to explain this concept. A great way to get this across is a number line.
This line, however boring it may seem, is the degree to which things are different from the original product. The strange looking U represents the pure Google experience provided by the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, Nexus one, and so on. This is the best possible option. The farther you move from the Google experience, the closer you are to leaving the Android family altogether, which in math is called an outlier. An outlier is no longer considered an Android phone and will result in being removed from Google's support. This may seem harsh, but this is the only realistic way to reign in hardware manufacturer's over-the-top skins.
Why This Works
This would be a good compromise for all parties involved and would improve the Google experience or lack thereof. This solution would allow many different ways to make alterations to Android, but would also allow for there to be consistency among all Android phones. This mathematical approach could make Android better across all devices, but it probably will never be considered as a real option. This would anger a lot of people because it wouldn't allow hardware manufacturers the complete freedom that they are used to, but, in the long term, it helps improve each company's products by providing a faster, easier to use, and stylistically improved operating system to the customer.
This over-modification of Android has made it unresponsive and slow in most phones, forcing companies to put more expensive components into their products instead of making the software better. The software has become painful, to the point where it isn't even recognizable as an Android phone. I think that Matias Duarte, the head of design at Google, will have a very hard time keeping all of these different devices running common software because they are beginning to fragment into their own mutation of Android. HTC has started to form their own release of Android. They have even begun their own SDK, or Software Development Kit. Android is Seceding from Android and it is extremely frustrating, but by making this change the Android experience could dramatically improve.