The more I use my Droid, the more quirky things I discover about it. Most of all, I am consistently impressed with the processing horsepower it packs.
To keep on top of all my social services, I run a large number of applications in the background: corporate mail, GMail, calendar syncing, contact syncing for both services, evernote, facebook, seesmic, navigation, browser, just to name a few. As a result I run into two issues I remember suffering with my late 90s Quadra 610 and dial up modem: cpu/memory and network overutilization.
Running all of these applications consumes RAM and CPU. The consequent OS lag reminds me of the new-ness and openness of the Android platform. Unlike iPhone or other platforms before it, Android is "completely" open. As a result, applications compete for the same resources, colliding in ways hardware and OS designers or carriers never intended. The result is occasionally sluggish performance – nevertheless, a welcome trade for background processing.
As for the network, Verizon's demonstrates astonishing speed compared to my G1 on AT&T. However, despite the dramatically larger pipe, network sluggishness is frequent. All these applications' background processes are requesting data simultaneously with no sense of each other or overall utilization of network resources. And like dial up, the user feels lag when firing up a browser.
While carriers continue to make significant investments in 4G wireless technologies, LTE and WiMax, and look to offload data to Wifi hotspots where they can, the mobile operating system should intelligently prioritize network traffic well. Active user processes, like a browser, should receive priority treatment for CPU cycles and network data.
Because of the sales model that couples a mobile device (mobile phone and now netbook) to a network, a carrier has interest in ensuring a great customer experience. This differs dramatically from the PC sales model wherein PC manufacturers do not have a relationship with an ISP. How much involvement carriers can and should expect to have in OS and hardware specification for handling more performant processors and subsequently higher network demands on relatively constant size pipes is unclear. But as more Droids wind up on the Verizon network, Verizon will not be happy to field expensive customer support calls regarding network and operating system performance, as AT&T has.
Whether we will see vertical integration of this ecosystem is an open question, but there is no doubt in my mind that a fully integrated network operator and hardware manufacturer using an open or closed OS customized for a particular network would provide a more compelling user experience. Close partnerships may work just as well for now.