Analyst says Android experiencing "growing pains"

Numerous industry analysts, journalists and devs have described Google’s tablet-optimized Honeycomb OS as “half-baked” or “unpolished.”

To be sure, senior DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim believes the Android universe is experiencing “growing pains,” with Honeycomb being only one of the many “challenges” the rapidly evolving ecosystem is slowly overcoming as it attempts to compete with Apple.

“It’s evident the early Android-based tablets aren’t selling as well as many expected, and some brands we spoke to indicated that the late arrival of the OS could be a good thing,” Shim explained.

“One brand said its engineers saw a significant difference between 3.0.1 and 3.1, so instead of coming out earlier in the year, the brand decided to wait until 3.1 was ready to release a device. Dell recently went as far as to say it would only come out with its 10.1-inch tablet in China because executives felt that the position of Android in the US was still unclear and that the platform was still immature.”

Nevertheless, Shim emphasized Google is “working rapidly” to advance the OS, as it refines Honeycomb and enables a number of new features to make the tablet-specific operating system more intuitive and efficient.

For example, the latest iteration of the OS offers support for USB-connected peripherals, resizable home screen widgets, support for more external input devices, such as keyboards, mice, joysticks and gamepads.

 In addition, the updated Honeycomb seems much more stable when running on the 10.1-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab.

“The apps run more reliably and consistently, and the platform hasn’t crashed yet,” he confirmed.

“[Yes], there are still some issues with running Adobe Flash, and the update process wasn’t as seamless as it could have been. Based on some forum postings, other users had similarly uncertain update experiences.”

The analyst also noted that the next major iteration of the operating system – dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich – would attempt to bring all Android categories (smartphones, tablets and TVs) under a single version of the OS.

“This will help to potentially increase the number of applications that can run on the different platforms, with the idea that if you develop software for one platform, it will be able to run on others. This will certainly help to drive interest in the platform for developers and consumers.

“However, retail challenges still exist and may be getting worse as channels that aren’t accustomed to selling technology are making a go at the tablet market with limited success,” Shim added.