But Google tried and succeeded in making a phone operating system that ended up becoming dominant, that gives the rest of their services top billing. Imagine if Apple had kept a near-monopoly on the high end, and/or if the company that leveraged the gap they left at the low end had been Microsoft or BlackBerry.
At Google, you get promoted for launching something that is technically difficult. So most engineers will seek to implement the most technically difficult feature they have a chance of launching, and then do everything they can to ensure that it actually launches. Nobody gets promoted for not launching things and ensuring API stability. Nobody gets promoted for fixing bugs their managers doesn't know about. Few people get promoted for writing documentation (and if you do, you're probably a techwriter who doesn't call the shots on API design). Nobody gets promoted for doing mundane stuff that might improve the user experience, but isn't technically difficult.
It's the standard big-company modus operandi: hire the best, and incentivize them in ways where it's easy to define the incentives but those incentives don't necessarily add value to the customer. Usually by the time you get to that size, it doesn't matter anyway, since you're working on problems that no startup has the resources to tackle.
Then they announced the new CMake support and it's basically a CMake toolchain file they copied from an older OpenCV initiative and didn't notice it no longer worked with the new NDK, or anything other than GCC, which they have deprecated. It's insanity.
I had to dig out how it all works with the new cmake plugin from their samples, because the new stable plugin still doesn't manage ndk-build properly.
Also there are quite a few features, like OpenMP, that the clang NDK doesn't support, yet GCC is already deprecated.
But yeah the NDK is a mess and the whole environment around it is incredibly painful. Android Studio improved things but they still have a long way to go.
Source: I carried an Android (or several) as my primary device for seven years.
The largest suit that has been brought against them for Android has just been settled: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/05/google-wins-trial...
While the product might not even be that good, it has clear dominance of the mobile smartphone market in every country other than the US. In the US it's 43.1% market share (which is very strong).
There's no doubt that Google has managed to win this very important market.