Great reader comments (GRC): Motoblur, HTC Sense, and the death of custom Android skins

Damn. We, here, at UV work our behinds off trying to bring you news and occasional op-eds. We do what we can, our best.

And we are ready to discuss and correct stuff in comments, as we are able to. Sometimes, movin on, on a plenty news day, takes preference.

But, sometimes, among that comment spam we are dealing with, stupid one liner comments like “Android rulers”, “iPhone is the best and you are stupid f*** if you don’t see it”, etc; In that pile of dung, a diamond of comment surfaces.

I don’t say that I agree with it, I don’t say that I don’t. There may be places that I do, and that I don’t. It doesn’t matter. It was so well argued, put together, that it does not deserve to get lost in comment section that only a fraction of you checks out.

So I’m starting a new section on UV – Great Reader Comments (GRC). Where I highlight great comments in separate post. With a link to your site or smthng.

And I do not do any spell checks to the comment I’m highlighting. I think it’s worth to read as it is.

The first post goes to anonymous poster Wcgjoed, talking about why Motoblur and other Android skins as we know them, must die. In response to this post. :

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This makes me want to say: “Oh, Thank God”.

Maybe, just maybe Motorola and Google have figured out that all this independent manufacturer UI business is damaging to Android, and does nothing but add further fragmentation to an otherwise great platform.
This isn’t to say manufacturer-specific UI offerings are a BAD thing… but the way they’ve been handled on the Android has been maddening, to say the least. Unavailable updates to certain phones because manufacturers / carriers were still scrambling to polish their UI’s to meet the latest Android releases from Google… If you liked a particular Motorola phone, but preferred the hTc “Sense” UI – you had to make a one-or-the-other choice… Even if you liked running the stock Android, most times you couldn’t turn off a manufacturer-loaded UI – you were stuck with what they gave you, 24-7.

Add to that, several different versions of Android running around out there (which of course, determined what apps and widgets, etc you could run) – and it’s a big fraggin fragmentation Frag-Fest.

Is it any wonder why a lot of consumers were left confused and rattled before and after their Android purchases?

Hardware not withstanding – it’s understandable that certain older Android models may not have the minimum system specs to run a latest Android update – there has been much discussion about how Google and phone manufacturers / carriers should handle Android. Some of my personal favorites:

> Make manufacturer UI’s optional. Yes, having Motoblur may help Motorola to achieve a certain brand-identity, but there’s a lot of us who want stock Android on our handsets. I really believe there should be a way on ALL Android phones to disable whatever manufacturer UI is loaded, and run with pure Android should you wish.

> Updates for Android should be pushed, no matter what carrier, manufacturer UI you have. None of this “Well, model X from Verizon will get its official update two months from now, because we have to make sure Motoblur will work with it”. B.S…. If my model of phone is able to accept an Android update from Google, I should be able to do it… no matter which carrier or manufacturer I bought it from. If it means Motorola has to work for 2 months to fit their Motoblur to it, whatever… I can still use stock Android, and have the latest Android updates to enjoy without being penalized because I bought a Motorola phone from carrier B, and now have to wait.

> Sell your UI’s as additions across Android phones. It’s a piece of software. I can’t imagine it’d be TOO difficult to make these UI’s available as separate downloads to a range of phones, so long as the phone has minimal specifications and Android updates. Computer companies have been able to do this for years. Would it really be that hard to charge $20 for Motoblur, if someone with a compliant Android phone wanted to load it on their hTc or Sony?
Maybe it would be harder – not sure how much of stretch it might be… but I imagine if it COULD be done, think of the competition-based charge these UI’s would leap to. Now it’s a game of not just creating the best UI for your own manufactured phones – but creating the best UI that could be used on ANY phone.
There’s advertising for you – if 70% of the Android market using manufacturer UI downloads are running Motoblur – because it’s the best UI add-on out there, and people really like it… don’t you think that’ll only help spur them to go check out your Motorola Phone hardware products come next purchase?

> Don’t think updates to your UI is a replacement for real hardware improvements. A lackluster phone with lackluster improvements from the previous model, is still an underwhelming device – even if you bill it as having the latest Android / UI update. Granted, that can be a selling point – but if the hardware itself is behind the competition, don’t expect people to get excited about it. Manufacturers can still, as they always have, distinguish themselves from the competition by building hardware with real advancements and smart design.

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And, Wcgjoed, I have your I.P.  and mail you wrote this comment under. So if you want not to stay anonymous and get some links, just comment on this post with your real stuff.

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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  • Erictan

    Agree. As someone shopping for a new smartphone, I find Android and its different released versions one big mess. I might like phone X but it only runs Android 1.6, and of course who wouldn't want the new version 2.2 instead? Sure, it'd be pricier, but at the end of the day, wasn't Android meant to be some Open Source competitor to the iPhone OS? The way it has turned out is that there are too many versions out there, not to mention manufacturer UIs and it's pricey even when it's Open Source. I hope Android's problem is not the one that Windows Vista had with too many different versions. You can't please everyone all the time, guys. Strangely enough, I can say the same about iOS4 but I do like the new iPhone 4, despite its shortcomings. Ah, decisions, decisions…

  • Erictan

    Agree. As someone shopping for a new smartphone, I find Android and its different released versions one big mess. I might like phone X but it only runs Android 1.6, and of course who wouldn't want the new version 2.2 instead? Sure, it'd be pricier, but at the end of the day, wasn't Android meant to be some Open Source competitor to the iPhone OS? The way it has turned out is that there are too many versions out there, not to mention manufacturer UIs and it's pricey even when it's Open Source. I hope Android's problem is not the one that Windows Vista had with too many different versions. You can't please everyone all the time, guys. Strangely enough, I can say the same about iOS4 but I do like the new iPhone 4, despite its shortcomings. Ah, decisions, decisions…

  • Marcus Christopher McFann

    Staska, you deserve an award. Good find, and thanks for sharing this. He's spot on, and exposes the UI architecture of Android and how it makes it hard to do individual builds.

    I won't say anything about who, but will say there are a couple OSes that realized this long ago, and made sure its not such a fiasco in the future. It pays to be prepared.

  • http://www.staska.net Staska

    Yeah. Well. Thank's

    Glad you saw I'm not just some stupid Nokia hater or smthng ;)

    And this GRC thing – It was you, who gave me the idea … :)