Android Fragmentation Only Getting Worse

July 30, 2013 - 2 minutes read


Android fragmentation 2013

In our brave new mobile centric world, one year equals an entire life-cycle of technological innovation. Google knows this fact all too well, yet the search giant hasn’t figured out how to solve the mounting fragmentation problems for their Android mobile operating system.

A full 2 years after launching Android version 2.3, more than a third of mobile devices are still running the antiquated software. This creates a major headache for Android app developers who have to pick and choose what versions of Android to concentrate their efforts on.

According to a mobile research report released by Open Signal, Android fragmentation is now worse than ever, saying, “Android devices come in all shapes and sizes, with vastly different performance levels and screen sizes. Furthermore, there are many different versions of Android that are concurrently active at any one time, adding another level of fragmentation. What this means is that developing apps that work across the whole range of Android devices can be extremely challenging and time-consuming”

The numbers speak for themselves.

  • 11,868 Android devices in use, up from 3,997 last year
  • 47.5% Samsung’s impressive market share
  • 8 versions of Android still commonly used

The Android fragmentation issue is actually even worse than it appears. With 8 mainstream versions of Android in use the software to hardware combinations rockets up to an unbelievable 94,944 choices. Compare that figure to the distribution of Apple’s iOS 6 software with a 95% install base across all devices.

It is painfully obvious that fragmentation issues are hampering the advancement of the mobile ecosystem. Android developers and consumers are losing out on many of the potential benefits of smartphone ownership. Ask any iPhone app developer in San Francisco why they aren’t coding for Android and prepare yourself for an endless tirade bemoaning Android’s fatal flaws. So what to do?

Google needs to take a strong leadership role to solve the fragmentation problem and guide Android more uniformly into the future. Only time will tell what solutions Google’s mobile team comes up with. We’ve been waiting, and years later we continue to wait.

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