The Android Device ID has bugs. This shouldn’t come as news to anyone but the problem is widespread and causes the Device ID to be an unreliable identifier. Research conducted in August 2012 found there were 3,997 discreet Android device types and there is no reliable way to recognize audiences on any of them. This is a huge issue for app developers and publishers. All major manufacturers are impacted and Google is not offering any solutions to the problem.
Just look at what the Google Dev Team has to say about this issue:
“Device manufacturers are welcome to backport the change if they wish. However, Android 2.2 is final as far as our codebase is concerned — with the exception of critical bugs, we can’t really make changes to it. Regardless, there’s nothing that can be done to fix this on affected devices without an OTA, which is again up to device manufacturers.”
There is a better approach for the mobile advertising industry – Universal Device Recognition. This approach does not depend on a device-provided identifier like the Android Device ID, does not leave any permanent identifiers on the device and works across all devices all the time.
The advertising industry has gotten a glimpse into what happens when you put all your eggs into one or two big baskets. When the approaches provided by Apple or Google fail, the recognition that underlies so much of the mobile marketing ecosystem fails and when that happens the whole house of cards risks tumbling down.
This isn’t the first time that this has happened, and is exactly why the industry can’t depend on the big guys. This is also why a growing number of advertisers and publishers are deploying universal device recognition technology. They want the independence, performance and ability to work across devices that this approach provides. Tracking in mobile is clearly broken but universal device recognition can help solve the audience recognition crisis. The good news is that those that have adopted this technology don’t suffer outages or recognition failures.
Every advertiser, publisher, app developer, device manufacturer and technology provider has a stake in the mobile ecosystem. To rely so heavily on just two companies to provide such a fundamental capability as device recognition – and then to have them fail – should be a huge source of concern for all involved. Universal Device Recognition gives control over audience recognition to the groups for whom it matters most – advertisers and publishers – and that is a major improvement over the current situation.