Fragmentation is the modern day Darwinism. Only the strong survive and technology is not above this rule. Every three months there is something, bigger, badder, better. There is no doubt in any ones mind that there is always something more amazing coming out when you buy a new phone. Back in the 1990's and early 2000's, when you bought a phone, you expected it just to work. Smartphones were called PDA's and they were like a mini computer. They were big, expensive, clunky and were complicated to learn for the average consumer. Then the iPhone was born and took the world by fire.
After the iPhone, there was Android with their unshackled operating system. There were many promises with both operating systems that there would be improvements with hardware, software, and how you would interact with their devices. No one thought they would have to buy a new phone every two years to take advantage of the newer software and hardware.
The older generation of cell phone owners keep their phones for as many years as they can. They will duct tape, glue, rubber band, their phone together because they feel they shouldn't have to buy a new phone. It should just work forever.
We can all agree, technology moves at a fast pace. Currently Android has five versions running ( Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich, Donut) in the market. with Jelly Bean just announced. The iPhone has about 3 versions of its operating system, and Windows Phone also has 3 (NoDo, Mango, Tango) which are hardware independent.
The current generation of Smartphone users are use to the 2 year cycle and getting new hardware and software at the end of their contracts. Even newer smartphone users that get their phones in 2012 always want the next big thing now!
They don't want to wait 2 years for a new phone, because when they see what they missed out on, they get upset and sometimes cancel their accounts and start a new contract with another carrier, just to get the newest phone.
Android and Apple started the fragmentation game and we are all playing by its rules. Microsoft recently announced that current Windows Phone will not get Windows Phone 8, but will get a version of it called 7.8. Twitter users reacted with outrage because Windows Phone was the last OS that kept everyone phone current with updates. Microsoft delivered the Mango update to 100% of eligible phones last year. It is safe to say that every Windows Phone is running the current software. For most people this was a great change. No more fragmentation for a platform.
At the Windows Phone Developer Summit, Microsoft announced that with Windows Phone 8, there will be a change for hardware. This leap in technology is giving the platform, NFC support, dual core processors, higher resolution displays, and removable SD card support. The current Windows Phones hardware doesn't have any of these new specs. In order to give customers what they want, there had to be a change. It created fragmentation, but Microsoft is completely upfront about these changes.
Unlike Android or iOS, where you have to read the fine print, or scour the internet looking for clues to what devices will receive the latest software. Microsoft is being honest and telling their customers why this is happening. I can empathize with people who just bought Lumia 900's or the Titan 2, but a large amount of regular users never ask about updates. They see the phone, love how it works, and are satisfied with what they have now.
With greater hardware comes, greater responsibility, and that is exactly what Microsoft is doing when they said that "Windows 8 devices will be supported up to 18 months of release". Microsoft is being forthright with its community and telling them their update life cycle of each device.
At the end of the day, fragmentation is Darwinism at it's finest, because we all want the best of the best.
Windows Phone is giving us what we want, so no hard feelings, because you know up front what Microsoft is bringing to the table, can Android or Apple say the same? I think not.