Amazon, Google and the Confederation of Android
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- One of the big problems with product reviews is that they don't really tell you what's going to happen over time.
You're on deadline. You do your best. I understand, Mr. and Ms. Product Reviewer. It's why software manuals are generally worthless: The time between the engineers deciding what will or won't go into the product and the time the product ships is sometimes measured in nanoseconds.
I've been living this for two years through a Samsung Galaxy phone. I got it in 2010 before a trip when my iPhone's WiFi chip died. Apple(AAPL) couldn't supply a replacement in time, but there were Android devices in stock, so I walked away happy.
Over time I found a lot not to like. The battery connector falls out. The device takes too much power and drains in less than a day. The GPS doesn't always adjust to my new location.
There's this "tethering" application closing in the background with nothing in front of it. The keypad sometimes comes up looking like one from an old cellphone.
But this is a column about Amazon.Com(AMZN) and its Fire.
The Fire is supposed to be an Android device, but long-term use says this is not so.
A CNNMoney reporter who has had a Fire for six months reports that it doesn't look good outdoors, that it is entirely separate from the Android mainstream by design, and that its Silk browser, an Amazon creation, is garbage.
The obvious conclusion is that Amazon didn't make an Android device at all. It made a proprietary device based on Android, and it lacks the engineering know-how to keep it current.
This isn't just a problem for Amazon customers. It's true across the Android ecosystem. You buy Android and you don't get Android. You get whatever the manufacturer and carrier decide to give you, whatever they think is in their best interest to give you.
Critics say this means Android is no longer open-source, and it's not, if by open-source you mean everyone gets to do what they want and to heck with the consumer.