Android really was everywhere at Mobile World Congress. In just a couple of years Google's sci-fi-inspired OS has risen from rough-edged tinkerer's toy to the world's most popular smartphone OS. It's the stuff electric dreams are made of.
Just about everyone at all the big stalls at MWC seemed to be banging on about Honeycomb this, and Gingerbread that, all while munching (ironically) apple-flavoured green sweets from a big Android robot-shaped bowl.
Google just about had Barcelona all to itself. Apple wasn't there, after all, WinPho 7 was wrapped up in learning Finnish for new lover Nokia, and both Palm and BlackBerry had done their business for the year already.
So we were left with Google's green giant. And somewhere on the journey between LG and HTC, or Samsung and Sony Ericsson, the thought struck me: I'm really starting to go off Android.
Just this morning I was reading comments from INQ boss Frank Meehan – INQ being another on the Android bandwagon, naturally – saying an Android phone is perceived as a “geek device” and Google has to work harder at providing “better experiences”.
I can see where he's coming from, but mixing it up on the Barcelona show floor you start to get a sense of just how difficult that job is. Everywhere we went well-meaning PRs and product managers did their best to highlight that “better experience” they've managed to wean from the exact same OS as the company on the stall next to them.
Most of the time they revolved around a single feature – such as 3D from LG – that we largely don't need, or one whose importance is over-emphasised, such as the Facebook button on the HTC Salsa and ChaCha. It's not like the rest of us can't get on Facebook pretty quickly, after all.
It's a tough job, because lurking not far under the surface in every case is a device that is 70-80% identical. Android 2.2 or 2.3; 5- or 8-megapixel camera; front-facing cam or, er, not. These are some of the few choices we've got. The powerful ones have dual-core processors, the less powerful single-core (I wish we'd started a drinking game for every time we heard “Tegra” or “Snapdragon”).
Don't get me wrong – I'm not criticising these features at all, or the quality of the phones they're found on. I'm simply pointing out that while Windows Phone 7 is criticised for requiring too much conformity from handsets running it, it's not like the Android brigade are all quirky individualists each offering something totally unique.
It's simply not possible, because for the most part as end users we all want fairly similar things from our phones. So I say let's rather focus on the geekiness of Android, instead of the “experiences” it offers. Because the alternative is starting to get a bit depressing.