TouchWiz be gone: the right way to install ICS on the Galaxy S2.
TouchWiz be gone: the right way to install ICS on the Galaxy S2.

This comment caught my attention. It was in response to an article on Stark Insider about Ice Cream Sandwich finally — finally — arriving on the Samsung Galaxy S2 (but only the unlocked variant):

“Don’t bother, I installed the official ics and the phone is much more glitchy than the previous version, I would leave it a few months until they get it right”

Root your phone was the first, techy thought that crossed my mind when I read the comment.

I’ve been running ICS on a S2 for months now, and it’s quite brilliant really. Best of all TouchWiz, that god awful skin that Samsung insists on jamming into its Android handsets, is no where to be found. It took a leap of faith, but rooting the S2 and installing the Cyanogenmod ICS ROM was not nearly as difficult as I anticipated. And I haven’t experienced any of the aforementioned bugs found in the official release, or any instability whatsoever.

But beyond that hack, there’s the slightly ridiculous predicament Google finds themselves in with ICS. It’s a no show. It’s the Axl Rose of mobile OSes. All talk, fury… but no follow through. The lack of penetration of ICS has been widely reported to be well under 5%. Contrast that to Apple’s latest iOS and you’ll quickly discover a tale of two strategies. Part of me says you can’t argue with success. After all, Android is crushing the market, leading all mobile OSes, including Apple’s. But eventually these underwhelming roll-outs — the Samsung Galaxy Nexus was the non-event of the decade, when it could’ve been huge — and staggering poor adoption rates will surely come back to bite Google. I used to think fragmentation was not a concern for Google, but these days I’ve been re-thinking my position.

This quarter Google’s going to right the ship. Maybe.

Jelly Bean will arrive in a month or two. If my hunch is right, it’ll ship with Google’s upcoming, Asus made, 7-inch Kindle fighter. For around $200 or so the tablet will be sold direct and represent the definitive Android tablet experience.

Cheat Sheet: How to install Android Ice Cream Sandwich on the Samsung Galaxy S II

Ironically, just as Google will be touting its flagship tablet this summer, handsets from Samsung (S III or HD), HTC (One X), Motorola (Droid Fighter) will be hitting the market running… you guessed it… Ice Cream Sandwich. What’s a marketer to do? Bifurcation, anyone?! Again, Apple puts its entire weight behind one launch, one upgrade cycle, one marketing push. Google is the proverbial shotgun approach.

Meanwhile I’ve been hanging on to this OG Droid far too long. I passed on the Nexus and the bragging rights that came along with owning the first ICS smartphone. Then I was licking my chops for quad-core at the beginning of the year. CES. Nadda. MWC. Nadda. Only in England you say? Fortunately, ICS and quad-core handsets are now making their way to US carriers. But after much reckless thought — and while happily running Gmail, Instagram, Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, et. al. on my Droid and wi-fi only S2 — I’ve finally reached a conclusion:

Does the OS really matter that much?