Apple vs. Samsung: The cost of Android fragmentation.

I’ve commented in the past about how Android fragmentation isn’t really as huge of an issue as some developers have made it to be.  But, there is one elephant in the room that no one is talking about:

Android fragmentation and lack of updates increased damages in the Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit.

How?  Why?  Well, the sad truth of it is that Android is evolving over time to be “less infringing” on Apple patents.  One great example of this is the “bounce-back scrolling feature” patent.  This feature did not exist in Android 1.x, was implemented (poorly, I might add) in Android 2.x, and was then removed in Android 3.x and 4.x and replaced with a non-infringing color-overlay scrolling feedback mechanism.

So, if Samsung (or any other vendor) had been able to keep devices up to date more quickly, they would have been less liable to Apple for damages.  Similarly, if they had been quicker to adopt new Android versions (say, 4.0) then they would not be liable for any damages against this patent.

There are many other examples of how Google is evolving the Android User Interface to NOT infringe on Apple patents .  This is the first case that I can think of where fragmentation (more specifically: Lack of keeping software versions up-to-date) has cost anyone real money.  By the books, it’s Samsung who’s paying, and maybe this means they’ll be more aggressive with keeping up to date.

I also hope Google sees this lesson, and helps the hardware manufacturers with hardware drivers and other issues that hold back software on many devices.

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