(Lack Of) Android Certification is Killing Honeycomb
Don’t think that all of this is down to third-party device manufacturers, however.
There is very little in the way of certification for devices running Android. Just because Android is open source doesn’t mean that controls can’t be applied - Honeycomb-capable devices (such as those with the P1AN01 chipset) are currently shipping with Android 2.2 installed but without access to the Market, as this isn't licensed for use on large screen devices on any version other than Android 3.x Honeycomb.
So if Honeycomb is being fiercely protected by Google, why are they letting Android tablets as a whole suffer from the cheaper, low-spec devices?
Sadly the development of the Android tablet has been hampered by Google’s blinkered attitude to certification and licensing, and the platform is drifting into a state of disarray. Android was already explaining platform fragmentation when the earliest tablets were released, and with the operating system now split in two (one for mobiles, one for tablets) this problem isn’t going to get any better. Serious action needs to be taken now if the only viable alternative to the iPad and iOS is to have a chance of reaching its audience.
For instance, older versions of the Android Market interface could be prevented from accessing the database of apps. This would at least prevent devices running the Market unofficially from installing any new apps. Alternatively, Google could offer a "low spec tablet amnesty" for users to trade in their devices for a low-cost tablet equipped with a Tegra II processor and pre-installed with Android Honeycomb.
Whatever action they take, the most immediate strategy must be to get the low-spec devices off the marketplace as quickly as possible. Google has been seen to exercise its litigious muscles of late - protecting Honeycomb would seem to be a valid reason for some more legal action, this time against the low-spec device manufacturers and retailers, blocking any Android tablet that isn't running Honeycomb (or isn't capable of running it) from sale. At the very least Google come up with an Android+ for Tablets certification program and educate consumers with some marketing. This would also start to make up the shortfall of Android tablet marketing, not only to the dominant iPad or feisty Playbook, but even the defunct HP Touchpad will be getting more airtime than any Android until the already purchased TV ad runs are exhausted.
If Google had restricted the use of their mobile phone for anything beyond a particular screen size and developed Honeycomb a little sooner would the position of their excellent tablet operating system be far stronger than it is?
I think so.