Android’s “open-ness” is something of a double edged sword, while countless OEMs can develop their own devices with specifications they deem fit, those devices are often not able to run the latest iteration of Android primarily due to hardware incompatibility. This reflects on the global Android distribution statistics, with reveal that fragmentation is a major issue on this platform. Recently it has been reported that Google is working hard to curb fragmentation, and an allegedly leaked memo has now surfaced online which seems to dictate terms to OEMs, that their new phones must be able to run Android 4.4 KitKat, the latest iteration of Google’s mobile operating system.
This memo was reportedly sent by the Android team at Google to at least one major Android OEM. The memo says that Google won’t approve GMS distribution on new Android products that ship with older platform releases starting February 2014. GMS or Google Mobile Services approval is required for a device to run core Google apps and services, such as Google Maps, Google Now, Hangouts and more. There’s obviously no way of confirming if Google has indeed imposed this restriction on OEMs, as most of them rely on low-end devices for their market share, those devices are often not able to run the latest platform releases. A direct impact of this decision will be increased prices in emerging markets, which OEMs target with their sub-$100 phones. Google has not commented on the report.