While end-of-year blogs, news items, and missives emanating from Google HQ were filled with upbeat talk of a great year of launches; an equal and opposite number of industry comments have applied a rather more judgmental critique to the company's latest developments.
Before preparing for his holiday period, Google blog editor Scott Knaster wrote, "At Google, we love to launch." Before going on to remind users of the company's new APIs, client libraries, HTML5, and Chrome developments, as well as its work on Google+ and developer news pertaining to Google Apps.
But for all its talk of emerging cloud technologies and commerce-related in-app payment technologies (developers love to "monetize their apps" after all, the search giant reminds us), Google has undeniably come under fire for its work with the Android mobile operating system.
Despite the growth and popularity of Android, the platform's update status has clearly caused consternation among the rank and file of the user and developer cognoscenti from far and wide. It appears to be the unpredictability of Android's update program more than anything else that has caused concern.
To be clearer — the speed at which Google allows manufacturers to update both existing and new handsets has come into question. This problem has led to levels of fragmentation where different devices all run Android on different core specs. Knowing what to update and where has become a challenge.
Android is open in the sense that developers can modify the source code as they see fit; but Google has held tight reigns over which devices it will approve for Android usage, so a narrowing funnel neck has been created from the start.
Independent developers have voiced concerns for some time over the inertia that has appeared to impede Google's release of both SDKs and APIs with regard to Android. But largely, developers want to build for Android and have no doubt been collectively hoping that device support and toolkit openness will one day be taken as a given.
In light of this, it is interesting to note that last year did see Google form a consortium of firms with mutual interest in Android updates. This news broke around the time of the Google I/O conference last May — and stipulations were laid down for device updates at that time.
Nevertheless, many will still argue that Google's Android smells rather more of grease, working machinery, and factory-floor sweat than it does of roses. Perhaps Google's acquisition of Motorola matched with the wake up call it received after the Android Market malware scare of 2011 will have positive future (more predictable) affects on roadmaps at all levels.