‘Gingerbread’ Might Just be Android 2.3

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 Google’s coming Android update—‘Gingerbread’—might not the version 3.0 or even version 2.5 like we all thought. Instead, someone from inside the company has mentioned a “major release” with 2.3 as the version number. Hmm. This really shouldn’t be that big of a surprise since so far what has been confirmed in Gingerbread has not been as big as the changes from 2.1 to 2.2 were.

What is worrying however is that Android 2.1 is still on plenty of users’ smartphones. The update from 2.1 to 2.2 brings Adobe Flash Player 10.1 to the platform along with lots of little performance tweaks.  Odds are that at least a few people reading this are still stuck at 2.1 ‘Eclair’ and have not yet even had a chance to ‘Froyo’ it up with Android 2.2. What gives here?

The strength of Google’s Android platform is also its weakness. Because smartphone operating systems are so reliant on the hardware powering them—at least far more so than PC’s running Windows, Linux or Mac OS X—and vice versa, the business model of one company building the operating system and another building the hardware for the operating system to run on has problems. Sure, it means there are far, far more smartphones out there powered by Android than there would be if Google itself produced the phones or even if one or two manufacturers were hand selected by Google to build them. But it also means that users of Android are reliant on their smartphone’s manufacturer to bring them the updates that Google produces.

Look at the Galaxy S series of smartphones from Samsung. Android 2.2 ‘Froyo’ is delayed until sometime near the end of November for customers in the US and most of the world. Android is all about features and minimizing the cost of production for smartphone manufacturers (yes, they do have to figure in the price of building and updating an operating system when they build any phone). The fact that I know smartphone users who are running Android 2.1 and still do not have access to Adobe Flash content is disheartening. What’s the point of choosing Android over iOS without Flash? Yes, the option of buying an Android phone with a physical keyboard is a tempting one but really, would you rather have an Android with a keyboard and no Flash than an iPhone with superior touchscreen text input and no Flash? Decisions, decisions.

Let me know what you think. Gingerbread going to be the update everyone needs or just a temporary stop-gap until Android 2.5 or 3.0? Still mad that you don’t have Flash on your Android 2.1 smartphone?

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