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Android Fragmentation Isn't Hurting Its Adoption 419

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-but-what-about-the-narrative dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Apple's developer Website offers a new, handy graph of iOS fragmentation — which, of course, highlights that the mobile operating system isn't fragmented much at all. A full 93 percent of iOS users are on iOS 6, the latest version; another 6 percent rely on iOS 5; and a mere 1 percent use an earlier iOS. Compare that to Google Android, which really is fragmented: some 33 percent of Android devices run some variant (either 4.1.x or 4.2.x) of the 'Jelly Bean' build, while 36.5 percent run a version of 'Gingerbread,' which was first released in December 2010 — ancient history, in mobile-software terms. (Other versions take up varying slices of the Android pie.) For years, Google's rivals have used the 'Android is fragmented' argument to hype their own platforms. But is Android's fragmentation really hurting the platform? Not as far as global shipments are concerned. According to recent data from research firm IDC, Android's market-share stood at 75 percent in the first quarter of 2013 — up from 59.1 percent in the same quarter a year ago. Meanwhile, iOS owned 17.3 percent of the market — compared to 23.1 percent in the year-ago quarter. Whatever the drawbacks of fragmentation (and people can name quite a few), it's clear that it's not really hurting Android device shipments or adoption."
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Android Fragmentation Isn't Hurting Its Adoption

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  • by hedwards (940851) on Friday June 21, 2013 @05:42PM (#44074223)

    That's a false dilemma you've got there. Android includes tools to manage the fragmentation. If you're having to individually target particular handsets, you're doing it wrong.

    People buy Android, because they don't want to be overcharged for Apple's iOS walled garden, and don't want to be limited to only Apple's selections. I'm sure that some people buy Android because it's less expensive, but that's a perfectly legitimate reason for choosing it. Just because you're an Apple fanbois doesn't make it any less legitimate to remain cost conscious.

  • Re:Misses the point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Friday June 21, 2013 @05:45PM (#44074267)

    For example: hey changed the way their Facebook and other social networking logins work so that it's a lot easer to integrate into an iOS 6 app than it was before. That means if you're developing a social networking app for iOS, you're going to have a much easier time if you make it for version 6 rather than version 5. With iOS, you can take advantage of new features right away. When Google makes things better for the android developers, they have to wait 2 years or so before they can implement them if they want their app to be accessible to most users.

    When Apple releases a new version, like 7, they release a developer preview. If I started an app for iOS 7 today, and planned to release it when apple releases iOS 7, I could expect that most iOS users would be able to use the app within a month of it's release. That's impossible with android.

  • by tlambert (566799) on Friday June 21, 2013 @05:45PM (#44074271)

    There are two axis for fragmentation.

    The graph is showing the one that doesn't matter, since you can always target a subset of the APi which is supported by all the versions of the OS; that's the same for both iOS and Android, and it's just common sense code portability. The first product I worked on out of college was TERM software for a small company called Century Software in Salt Lake City, Utah, At one point, we had greater market penetration for async communications software on UNIX systems than UUCP, and UNIX systems came with UUCP for free. We also ran on VMS, BTOS, CP/M, MP/M, Mac OS, and half a dozen other non-UNIX platforms, as well as the 140+ UNIX platforms we ran on.

    The secret to this success was to have as small a porting surface as possible, and that's eminently possible with both iOS and Android, although that type of design and coding tends to not be taught in colleges and universities these days, it's still eminently possible. It's just a matter of API contracts.

    The other axis is hardware differences, and you can't ignore those for either iOS or Android. Those are the ones you can't get around with API contracts, because they touch on different device capabilities - the most important of which is screen aspect ratio, and that's the very thing that iPhone 5 broke, and it's the very thing the original iPad broke. Sure, there are other important parts to this; there the "I" in "I/O" as well, in particular, of all the sensors, there's keyboard inputs, but for the most part, that has fallen out to touch interfaces, which pretty much everyone other than Blackberry has agreed upon, and GPS. All the other sensors are much less useful to most apps.

    If you talk to a Rovio engineer (and I have) on this issue, they effectively target a dozen iOS hardware platforms: to get the best user experience, and to get where they are today, with "Angry Birds" being the top selling mobile game of all time, they've had to adjust to aspect ration, resolution, and OS version. Being a game has meant having a much larger porting surface, in terms of OS interaction. And yeah, this means several dozen Android platforms, as well as their other platforms, but the difference between a dozen and several dozen isn't as large as the difference between 1 and a dozen.

    Rather than pointing to Apple infographics, you'd be much better off pointing at the biggest success story in the industry, and doing as they do, rather than doing as Apple would have you do, since it's more important to be a top seller than it is to be portable, if the end goal is popularity with users and income.

  • Re:App revenue (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eddy (18759) on Friday June 21, 2013 @05:55PM (#44074317) Homepage Journal

    Evidence suggests otherwise. Android vs iOS Game Myths [gamasutra.com]

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.

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