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A monopoly means only as much as the amount of control its owner has over it. In the case of Android, most of the power seems to be concentrated amongst the carriers, since they get to decide what versions of the OS will be available on the devices they sell and what UIs/crapware they will be bundled with. With the resulting fragmentation (which is massive), the effectiveness of the monopoly is significantly diminished.



So, in other words, Android will bring us all the downsides of a monopoly without many of its benefits?

Look, Windows was/is a strong monopoly, and yet it ceded most of the hardware decisions to manufacturers, who also add all sorts of bloatware to the OS and mess with the UI, provide their own more "friendly" skins, etc.

Plus ca change.


It's complicated. On the one hand, Google's lack of control over their monopoly is good for the consumer, because it means they cannot do all the awful shit that monopolies do, such as market manipulation and locking out new entrants. But it's bad for the consumer as well because one of the symptoms of lack of control is that the user experience is inconsistent. For example, having to root one's phone to end up with a decently usable device is awful for the average user.

We definitely live in interesting times. My professional opinion is that there's room for one or more players in the smartphone OS market. Windows 8 phone could be one, if it catches on. But seems the real demand is for a mobile operating system that has consistent, smooth user experience and a ton of content like iOS, and customizability and open-endedness like Android. Seems unlikely at this point, but with technology, you never know.




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