Whilst us HTC Hero owners await the move from Android 1.5 (Cupcake) to more contemporary times i.e. Android 2.1 (Éclair), one of the issues it has brought up is just how fragmented the whole Android ecosystem really is.
Apart from us on Android 1.5, new handsets such as the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 will launch with Android 1.6 (Donut), whilst others are on Android 2.0 (Motorola Droid) and 2.1 (Nexus One). It has been widely commented that Google needs to do something about this as you can end up waiting a long time before getting the juicy bits of a new firmware update.
Part of the problem is that Google has moved quicker than some operators in pushing up firmware updates, leaving the likes of HTC, amongst others, to take a long time getting their customised Android updates out to customers.
Google plans to tackle this problem by splitting Android over the next major two versions (Froyo and Gingerbread). The major features of the newer firmwares will be carved out so that you can download it from the Android market. The idea being that newer updates to certain apps (like Google Maps or Gmail) can be downloaded by all without having to install the newer firmware.
Seems like a very sensible idea to me, more like a modular OS approach and should cause less frustration to users like us HTC Hero owners stuck on Android 1.5 since the handset launched. Fingers crossed it will work.