"Saturday Night Live" ran a spoof Verizon commercial this weekend, making fun of the carrier's somewhat-confusing 4G LTE terminology. Intentionally or not, the skit also pointed out a bigger issue in the smartphone market. Check it out and see if you notice:
Did you catch those mentions of 10 or so different devices? All of which happen to be Android devices?
Android fragmentation is a problem on several different fronts. It's confusing for customers, as the "SNL" ad shows. It's bad for developers, who have to make sure their apps are compatible with all the different devices and operating systems in use today. And it's not great for Google and its manufacturers, either, because they can't tell a unified story like Apple can with its one OS, one phone and one tablet.
Android fragmentation can also be a problem for IT in the era of consumerization. It's hard to come out and say "we support Android" as a blanket statement, because the smartphones are so different. Most still run Android 2.3, but some now have 4.0, which offers new Android enterprise features. Some offer on-device encryption, but most don't. Some have native remote-wipe capabilities, while others don't. And that's just scratching the surface of the differences between Android smartphones.
Unfortunately, you can't just walk out of the store in disgust like the customer in the "SNL" ad. End users -- not IT -- are the ones making these purchasing decisions, and as long as they're buying Android phones, they're going to want to do work on them.
The most common approach I've seen IT take is to limit official Android support to specific tasks or devices. Here at TechTarget, for example, they let me get my email on my HTC Incredible through Exchange ActiveSync, but that's it. (They also require a screen-lock password.) Or, at my dad's job, when the contract was up on his corporate-issued BlackBerry, they gave him a very short list of approved devices he could choose for his next phone.
How does your IT department handle Android fragmentation? Do you think the problem will get better with Ice Cream Sandwich, which is supposed to be the great unificator?