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Android Cellphones Google Handhelds IOS Operating Systems

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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  • Misses the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Score Whore (32328) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:14PM (#44073931)

    The argument presented doesn't seem to actually grasp the point of the comparisons. On one hand you may be interested in market share. But when Apple presents the issue at WWDC they're not talking about market share. They are talking about what the actual platforms in use are and which ones are going to present the best area for developers to target. Three different versions of android are going to present three different APIs that app developers are going to have to deal with. On the iOS side you can target iOS 6 and know that you're be hitting almost the entire market segment.

    • by aergern (127031)

      It's the same with targeting Android 4.0.x as the baseline. You will hit 75% of the Android market. There are some folks who just use their phone to talk and text ... Android 2.2.x will do that until their phones break so they will not upgrade until they have to. Folks need to stop whining about fragmentation and target the majority because most of those "good enough" phones with 2.2.x on them will just be around ... it's not like they can be revoked or have a newer version that's crippled. It is what it is

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It's the same with targeting Android 4.0.x as the baseline. You will hit 75% of the Android market. There are some folks who just use their phone to talk and text ... Android 2.2.x will do that until their phones break so they will not upgrade until they have to. Folks need to stop whining about fragmentation and target the majority because most of those "good enough" phones with 2.2.x on them will just be around ... it's not like they can be revoked or have a newer version that's crippled. It is what it is.

        So if Google announced a major new version tomorrow how long would it be before I could exclusively target that version? Talking about 4.0 is good and all, but 4.0 is two years old. 2.3 is three years old. It's not exactly a huge achievement that you can target 4.0, especially if that means if Google released a major update tomorrow it would take two years to be able to realistically target that version.

        That's Apple's point. They're saying on iOS you can make that transition in three months, not two years.

        • by steelfood (895457) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:26PM (#44074033)

          They're saying on iOS you have to make that transition in three months, not two years.

          FTFY.

          To look at it another way, if you don't transition when Apple does, you're hosed.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by rsborg (111459)

            They're saying on iOS you have to make that transition in three months, not two years.

            FTFY.

            To look at it another way, if you don't transition when Apple does, you're hosed.

            Untrue. Most Apps built for iOS5 are often a few recompiles away from running on iOS6. Of course, you'll need to do a bit of coding to get your App to use new libraries.

          • by Pieroxy (222434)

            Ascendent compatibility. Ever heard of it?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:28PM (#44074055)

          Why does it matter, as an app developer? If your program runs without a force close and doesn't use any specific features to an Android version, your app shouldn't care if it is running on the latest code.

          Same with iOS. There are a lot of things where I can release an app and it shouldn't care if it runs on iOS 4, 4.1, 4.2, 5, 6, or 6.1.

          Why as an app developer would you exclusively target a version and lock everything else out, unless one is in the "latest and greatest" mentality, which is easy to get into, but is really a poor mindset to be in.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by mosb1000 (710161)

            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

          • Why does it matter, as an app developer? If your program runs without a force close and doesn't use any specific features to an Android version, your app shouldn't care if it is running on the latest code.

            The upgrade from Android 4.1 to Android 4.2 broke a lot of apps that act as drivers for Bluetooth input devices. It broke "Sixaxis Controller", a driver for Sony's Dual Shock 3 controller. That eventually got fixed. It also broke "Wiimote Controller", a driver for Nintendo's Wii Remote controller. That still isn't fixed. [ccpcreations.com]

            • by mcrbids (148650)

              Even so, this represents an edge case, and not the majority of app development by far. Most apps don't do anything special with phone features.

              Look at it like this... if you compare IOS 6 to Android 4.x, you get:

              IOS: you get 90% of 25% of the market on a single relesae.

              Android: you get 75% of 75% of the market.

              You end up with more than twice the target audience with Android 56.25% vs 22.5%. Now, IOS people tend to buy more apps because IOS users are "premium" users and many Android devices are "freebie" pho

        • by scot4875 (542869) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:37PM (#44074173) Homepage

          In other words, as the user of an iOS device that is no longer supported, you can expect the market to leave you behind in a few months, rather than a few years.

          --Jeremy

          • by Pieroxy (222434) on Friday June 21, 2013 @05:57PM (#44074761) Homepage

            Are you kidding? iOS6 runs on every iPhone down to the iPhone 3GS released in June 8, 2009. That's more than 4 years ago. Do you want to compare that to Android average upgrade path across all manufacturers? How many Android phones actually *can* run the latest OS after 4 years of service?

            Easy to bash Apple, but on some points they do hold their ground much better than 90% of Android manufacturers. Try not to bash them on those points, will you?

            • by murdocj (543661)

              All I know is I can't get past iOS 4.x on my ITouch and I can't buy software for it anymore. Which kinda sucks. I can still buy software to run on XP Windows... but not my ITouch. Even software that is claimed to run on it gives a "requires at least iOS xyz"... AFTER I've bought it.

            • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

              "Runs" is a bit of an exaggeration. It crawls along on a 3GS and most of the new headline features are not supported.

              iOS is fragmented, just like Android, because as a developer you can't rely on every device running iOSx to support every feature.

        • > So if Google announced a major new version tomorrow how long would it be before I
          > could exclusively target that version?

          Depends upon whether your new app needs immediate sales, and whether you're talking about an expensive app that needs best-of-breed hardware to run acceptably well, anyway. If your app will suck on anything less than a GNex/S3/Note2/Nexus4/OneX, you won't lose many real sales by requiring 4.1, and probably won't lose many more by aiming for 4.2.

          Just don't make the mistake of setti

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I have a 2.x phone. I am considering upgrading. But really the apps I have work fine on it (oh I had other ideas when I first bought it). The screen is decent and the battery life is not in the toilet the voice quality is iffy (but many are). I have all of my 'must have apps' for the thing already.

        Do I want a new shiny phone? Oh hell yes.
        Do I really need one? Not particularly.

      • by hedwards (940851) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:31PM (#44074095)

        You wouldn't target 4.0.x, unless of course there's a feature that isn't in previous versions that you need. For the most part, the 2.x versions have most of the stuff people need, targeting a newer version should really only be done when you need to. There's no point in throwing out users if you don't have to.

        The bigger issue with the older phones is the storage size and the amount of RAM available.

        • For the most part, the 2.x versions have most of the stuff people need, targeting a newer version should really only be done when you need to. There's no point in throwing out users if you don't have to.

          this isn't really true. there are major UI shifts in 4.0 (actually 3.0) that mean writing dual code paths for a lot of things. action bars vs. options menu. contextual action bars vs. context menus. those are things that almost every app has to deal with. it's a major pain.

      • Mathematical! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Friday June 21, 2013 @05:15PM (#44074475)
        Let's see. With Apple, you can target 100% of 17% = 17% of phone buyers, whereas with Android you can target 75% of 75% = 56% of phone buyers.
      • It's the same with targeting Android 4.0.x as the baseline. You will hit 75% of the Android market.

        Not really. According to the Google Android Dashboard of June 3 targeting Android 4.0.x will get you 59% of the Android market.

        Plus, that number is a bit of an overstatement. It only considers those who visit the Google Play Store. So a lot of Amazon Kindle Fires are not being counted. Many of those Kindles are stuck at Android 2.3.3.

    • by SQLGuru (980662)

      Also, how much of the sales of Android are BECAUSE of the fragmentation? Or in other words, is Android successful BECAUSE of fragmentation? If I had a device that continued to be upgraded from 3.x to 4.x and beyond, would I be so anxious to jump to the new versions (sort of like how the 4s wasn't a big enough reason to jump from the 4)?

      • by hedwards (940851)

        I'm still using a Nexus One, and the only reason that I'm going to be upgrading in the near future, is storage capacity. Having a larger screen would be nice, but the internal storage capacity is insufficient for running more than a few apps at any given time. And I often have to uninstall something in order to upgrade it due to space limitations.

        Fragmentation has never been the issue that Apple suggests that it is. I'd much rather deal with that and get to make some UI choices, than be locked into Apple's

        • by DrGamez (1134281)

          I actually just upgraded from my Nexus One to a Nexus 4 this week, because of that internal memory problem. It wasn't a problem when facebook and GMaps were 10mb, but now Facebook is 12mb, and Maps is near 30mb, and you can't uninstall them, just the updates!

      • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:34PM (#44074135) Homepage

        Yes, exactly. A lot of the reason Gingerbread sticks around is because it's not a bad OS at all and it is the last version that had non-OpenGL based graphics. So it can run on pretty meagre hardware compared to ICS+. Some manufacturers are using Android's openness to fix the OS version and push down the price rather than keep price stable and push up the OS. Both approaches are valid and both are needed - the fact that Apple is blind to this market reality says more about them than Android.

        Anyway this ignores the fact that Apple routinely updates older devices to the 'latest' OS that is actually something claiming to be the latest version, but doesn't have most of the new features. It's easy to play games with version numbers if you simply strip out anything requiring the latest hardware and still call it the latest OS.

        • by greg1104 (461138)

          I'd be quite happy if Android vendors did any sort of backport to older devices, even a hobbled one with the latest features stripped out. Apple's platform has plenty of issues around running on older hardware, sure. Their record for continuously pushing out security updates to devices that are a few years old is, on average, way ahead of everything but the Nexus Android phones though. The way vendors abandon old hardware in Android land is building a frighteningly large installed base of badly secured p

        • by Karlt1 (231423)

          Anyway this ignores the fact that Apple routinely updates older devices to the 'latest' OS that is actually something claiming to be the latest version, but doesn't have most of the new features. It's easy to play games with version numbers if you simply strip out anything requiring the latest hardware and still call it the latest OS.

          Developers don't care as long as they have a consistent API to target. None of the features left off of older phones upgrading to a new OS effects developers.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Also, how much of the sales of Android are BECAUSE of the fragmentation? Or in other words, is Android successful BECAUSE of fragmentation? If I had a device that continued to be upgraded from 3.x to 4.x and beyond, would I be so anxious to jump to the new versions (sort of like how the 4s wasn't a big enough reason to jump from the 4)?

        Android IS successful because of fragmentation. Because it means device makers can scale their devices to whatever price point they way. For example, you can have a flagship

        • Doesn't matter that the screen is "small", or that the processor is barely 1GHz, if that, or it has 512MB of RAM, and ships with 2.3.

          Server Name Indication (SNI) [wikipedia.org] allows name-based virtual hosting to work on SSL sites. The only remaining major web browsers that aren't compatible with SNI are Internet Explorer on Windows XP and Android Browser on Android 2.2 or 2.3. Try visiting SNI Test [velox.ch] or Pin Eight [pineight.com] on Chrome, Firefox on desktop, Safari on recent Mac OS X, or IE on recent Windows. Then try visiting it on your Android 2.x device.

    • Get real. Probably 3/4 of the iDevice 'market share/install base' won't even run iOS 6. Apple obsoletes their hardware quickly. I have three iPod Touches and they've all been abandoned by Apple to varying degrees. I am heartily disappointed at how quickly App developers 'buy into' the new API bells and whistles and push themselves off devices whose paying customers might want to buy their product.

      It's painfully obvious to anybody with an older iDevice that Apple is a hardware vendor first and abandons t

      • by Karlt1 (231423)

        Get real. Probably 3/4 of the iDevice 'market share/install base' won't even run iOS 6.

        Your numbers don't add up -- Apple just said that 93% of users are using iOS 6. IPhone sales dwarf iPod Touch sales.

        Every iPhone since at least the 3GS has been able to run 3 years of iOS updates.

      • by sl149q (1537343)

        My four year old iPod Touch still works fine with iOS 5.

        My four year old iPhone 3GS still works fine with iOS 6.

        I fully expect my one year old iPhone 5 to work with every version of iOS for AT LEAST the next three years.

        I can't see how you can compare that the the typical Android users experience of getting maybe one major upgrade a year or two after release or describe it as Apple abandoning the platform.

    • by sjames (1099)

      No. If you want maximum coverage, target API 10 and you cover 95% of all Android devices.

      If you really want the latest API features and aren't as concerned with compatibility, choose a later API.

    • by msauve (701917)
      "Three different versions of android are going to present three different APIs that app developers are going to have to deal with."

      You're claiming that all Android APIs change with each new version? Changes only occur to a small subset - mostly because it adds functionality which benefits developers, and with a strong desire to maintain backward compatibility. And a significant part of the fragmentation is to support consumer choice. I'll assert it's only the apps which push the boundaries which are meanin
    • by Luthair (847766)
      Note where Apple collects the stats from.... the app store. It stands to reason that users with older hardware are probably less active users and will be under represented.
      • by sincewhen (640526)

        I'm not sure that this is right. I agree that newer phones probably see more usage and more app purchases. But all iOS phones check in looking for updates. So, if the phone is switched on, it will show up in Apple's stats.

      • Note where Apple collects the stats from.... the app store. It stands to reason that users with older hardware are probably less active users and will be under represented.

        Google's stats (Android Dashboard) come from the Google Play Store. According to their numbers targeting Android 4.0 gets you 59% of the Android market. Of course that ignores Amazon Kindle Fires and other devices that don't use the Google Play store. Many of those Kindles are stuck at Android 2.3.

    • Why write for all three? In my limited experience, the people still running gingerbread, who have pressed "No, don't update" on their phones are the ones who use their phones for texting, e-mails, as a camera, facebook... and that's it. Maybe they'll download instagram or twitter, and play with angry birds for a while, but they're not downloading the hot new app all the kids are talking about wherever it is young people talk about phones. Just release it for the current one and let them update if they wa
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Loads of people have phones for which there is no update, even though their phone is capable of running ics or jb. I'll go to JB when my touchpads work properly on it.

  • by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:15PM (#44073947)

    But that wasn't the point of the graphic. The graphic was created by Apple to tell developers that they should target the newest version of iOS exclusively, if possible.

    Now imagine making that argument on Android. Anyone suggesting that an Android developer should seriously target 4.2 exclusively would be laughed out of the room.

    This article is missing the point. It was a dig at Android for hurting developers, not necessarily users.

    • If you're coding for the iPhone, you deal with iPhone 5 screen resolution and iPhone 4/4S. That's 2 screen resolutions.

      Try coding for Android, while having fun doing it ;)
      • If you're coding for the iPhone, you deal with iPhone 5 screen resolution and iPhone 4/4S. That's 2 screen resolutions.

        Try coding for Android, while having fun doing it ;)

        I actually have a feeling the screen resolution thing isn't going to hold. Apple is going to go with multiple screens eventually.

        I program part time for Android, and the screen resolution thing isn't actually what bothers me on Android. A lot of other things do bother me and make iOS still my favorite platform. But both platforms have very effective tools for dealing with screen size differences (Android more in practice, and iOS more in theory at this point.)

      • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

        That, and more significantly the iPad / iPhone difference has caused me far more headaches than Android's zoo of screen sizes.

        Android was designed from the ground up for arbitrary screen dimensions. iOS wasn't. iOS couldn't even deal with it effectively until iOS 6.0.

      • by stephanruby (542433) on Friday June 21, 2013 @06:30PM (#44075015)

        If you're coding for the iPhone, you deal with iPhone 5 screen resolution and iPhone 4/4S. That's 2 screen resolutions. Try coding for Android, while having fun doing it ;)

        To an iOS developer who hard-codes screen resolutions and aspect ratios like a Guttenberg-press typesetter would at the end of the 15th century, dealing with screens of different resolutions, different aspect ratios, and different sizes like Android does would seem like an insurmountable task to him/her, but that's one of the easiest problems to deal with once you start understanding the Android fundamentals and once you start writing your application the Android way (although, some veteran iPhone developers don't even try to do that when developing for Android, so they end up writing an android application like they would have an iPhone application).

        If you're going to complain about the Android fragmentation, then complain about bluetooth compatibility between all the different Android devices. That is a pain, a real pain (assuming your client insists on compatibility between all Android phones/tablets, and not just the bluetooth compatibility of certain models with the same chips -- the latter of which is easy enough to do).

      • If you're coding for the iPhone, you deal with iPhone 5 screen resolution and iPhone 4/4S. That's 2 screen resolutions.

        Try coding for Android, while having fun doing it ;)

        And one more thing.

        Don't think that we haven't noticed your omission of the iPad and the Mini-iPad in your comparison of the "iPhone" vs. "Android" resolution count.

        This omission makes me think that you seem to be aware of the insanity it was for Apple to have hard-coded resolutions and aspect ratios into its platform (when it clearly isn't the first time that Apple went back to the drawing board and introduced new form factors that had been verbotten previously).

    • by Daetrin (576516)
      "some 33 percent of Android devices run some variant (either 4.1.x or 4.2.x) of the 'Jelly Bean' build,"

      "According to recent data from research firm IDC, Android's market-share stood at 75 percent in the first quarter of 2013 â" up from 59.1 percent in the same quarter a year ago. Meanwhile, iOS owned 17.3 percent of the market"

      Targeting just 4.2 is perhaps rather overly specific, unless there are major differences in programming for 4.2 vs 4.1 that i'm not aware of? Given the above numbers if a de
      • by sincewhen (640526)

        Except that you also have to figure in that the average iOS user spends more (20% more?) on apps than the average Android user.

        I have no idea how that breaks up into new phones/old phones, but it would also be a factor to include.

    • by sjames (1099)

      It's a fairly weak dig since it's quite easy to target an earlier version. Some of the cool stuff introduced in later versions can be added to your app as a module.

    • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday June 21, 2013 @06:36PM (#44075059) Homepage Journal

      This article is missing the point. It was a dig at Android for hurting developers, not necessarily users.

      That was the point of the Apple graphic, sure, but who cares? Developers, sure, but the evidence is that that doesn't matter, because developers will follow the users.

      If you project the trends out another year or two -- and I see no reason why that's an unreasonable thing to do -- we're rapidly approaching the point where even if average Android users spend less money on apps, Android is going to so completely dominate the smartphone market that it won't matter. Already some app developers (particular game makers [gamasutra.com]) are seeing Android revenues surpass iOS revenues, and that's just going to increase.

      Ultimately, if fragmentation doesn't hurt user adoption, it won't hurt developer adoption.

      I actually hope the current trends don't continue; I'd like to see Ubuntu phone or Windows phone, or something, start to gain some share, and for Apple to hold onto its share, because I believe that competition is important.

      (Disclaimer: I work for Google, but they don't speak for me and I don't speak for them.)

  • by danaris (525051) <danaris@maPERIODc.com minus punct> on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:20PM (#44073981) Homepage

    ...who's going to buy your app?

    If you've got to target 6 or so major differences in versions—not to mention the differences in hardware—to reach the same percentage of Android users as you could reach in iOS users by targeting only iOS 6, that's got to say something about the ROI you can expect.

    And that's not even taking into account the many datapoints showing that Android users buy something like half, or less, the amount of apps per device that iOS users do. (I don't have the numbers in front of me right now, but my memory suggests it was considerably less—like, closer to 10% than 50%.)

    The reason Android's adoption is high is pretty damn obvious to anyone who's actually paying attention: the phones occupying the space in carrier lineups that, seven years ago, would have been held by dumbphones are now cheap Android phones. People buy Android not because they're choosing it, but because that's what happens to come on their phone...which they use almost exclusively to talk and text. (And maybe check Twitter and Facebook.)

    Dan Aris

    • Except that cheap Android device are still a million years better than the old JavaME feature phones were. If people who buy cheap phones aren't buying your apps, maybe the issue is nobody is selling them a useful enough app? There's certainly an untapped market there. People should see that as an opportunity, not some sign of "weakness".

      Heck, I'm an advanced user with plenty of money and the fact is, all the apps I want or could need on Android are free anyway. I bought TuneIn Pro because I listen to net

      • by danaris (525051)

        Except that cheap Android device are still a million years better than the old JavaME feature phones were. If people who buy cheap phones aren't buying your apps, maybe the issue is nobody is selling them a useful enough app? There's certainly an untapped market there. People should see that as an opportunity, not some sign of "weakness".

        That may be the case, but then the problem is awareness. If these users aren't buying apps, I guarantee you it isn't because they're browsing through the Google Play store and just saying, "Meh, don't want to pay for any of these." (Partly because, IIRC, the stats show that they aren't even installing free apps.) It's because they're not even thinking of their phones as smartphones. They don't browse the web, they don't look at the Google Play store, many of them don't even realize that it exists.

        If you wan

        • by rasmusbr (2186518)

          The numbers that I've seen show that iOS and Android users download approximately the same number of apps. The difference is that the average iOS user spends about ten times more money than the Android user. The Play store icon sits right there on the home screen, so I don't think that users are unaware that it exists.

          There isn't necessarily a lot of money to be made on Android. If we apply the 80-20 rule to personal disposable income it makes perfect sense that iOS could have close to 80% of the market sha

    • by hedwards (940851) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:42PM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by danaris (525051)

        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.

        I think you've missed my point: they don't choose Android because it's cheaper. They just go to buy a cheap phone, and these days, that happens to be Android. They're not thinking about it in terms of iOS vs Android vs whatever. They're just going to buy a phone that'll do phone stuff.

        Dan Aris

  • by hsmith (818216) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:21PM (#44073989)
    It has everything to do with being able to develop for phones. The article misses the point entirely.

    As someone who develops for both, testing in Android *is* a pain in the ass. Developing in it is a breeze. The minor issues you run into on varying handsets is just a nightmare to deal with. The small variances because manufactures can't develop to API specifications correctly.

    I question anyone who says it isn't an issue. Either you aren't doing development or you haven't built something complex enough to see the various issues.
    • by mlts (1038732) *

      I wish there were some type of test suite that phone makers could offer to emulate their products, just to see if things run, and report exceptions thrown. That way, if I write an app, I don't get a bunch of one star, "FCs on my blahblah" reviews, on some device that I've never heard about (such as BLU phones which are extremely popular south of the US.)

      That way, if one device did keep crashing my app, I can at least stick a warning about it.

      Android fragmentation isn't as bad as people point it out to be.

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        If they could do a job at making platform-specific test suites chances are that they could probably just make their platforms follow the specs properly and you wouldn't need that test suite in the first place...

      • > I wish there were some type of test suite that phone makers could offer to emulate their products,

        There is... kind of... the pile of old Android phones most Android developers have accumulated by now ;-)

        My pile: HTC HeroC, Samsung Epic4G, Motorola Photon, Galaxy S3 (current phone). Of the phones in the pile, only the Photon sits (battery removed) unloved and hated in a drawer, awaiting the day someone cracks that poor gimped phone's Motorola-permalocked 2.3.5 bootloader, breaks its chains & shackle

      • by rasmusbr (2186518)

        That would be nice for dealing with all the different implementations of SQLite and whatnot, but a lot of the really serious problems have to do with quirks at the firmware or hardware level that may be difficult to get to in an emulator.

        I believe the free version of Crittercism will let you detect that a specific device keeps crashing your app so you can fix it (or if you can't fix it - blacklist the device in the Play store) before you start getting one-star ratings from users.

    • by hedwards (940851) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:44PM (#44074257)

      And this is somehow different from the PC market?

      I can't recall the last time I heard anybody complaining about the PC market being fragmented. It's standard for Apple to use fragmentation as an argument against their opposition, because they want to make all the decisions for the end users. It's easy to eliminate fragmentation when you limit the option to things that you've chosen.

      • by Brucelet (1857158)
        The PC market has hardware fragmentation, but you know what operating system you'll be running on. Mobile OSs change much more quickly.
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        And this is somehow different from the PC market?

        I can't recall the last time I heard anybody complaining about the PC market being fragmented.

        Except that APIs like DirectX and the like smooth over a lot of the differences.

        And people do complain - because they complain PC games are ports of consoles. And that ATI sucks because you need to install this beta driver to play this game. Or NVidia sucks for the same reason.

        Hell, how many times have you heard that Intel graphics sucks? (And Intel graphics is the m

  • by ernest.cunningham (972490) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:31PM (#44074103) Homepage

    Apple's point is that their installed base (no matter what size or market share it is) has very little fragmentation allowing those who develop for the platform to target only the newest iOS. For developers this is a big deal.

    Getting market share because you re selling junk like this the Samsung Pocket that still comes with Android 2.3 is not helping out anybody. The security implications of running this older OS is also an issue.

    I am not advocating one side or the other. I am saying the OP countered the point Apple were making with a somewhat irrelevant argument.

    • Getting market share because you re selling junk like this the Samsung Pocket that still comes with Android 2.3 is not helping out anybody. The security implications of running this older OS is also an issue.

      Android 2.3.x is for single-processor phones (like the Samsung Pocket).

      And no, what you're implying is completely false. Android 2.3 gets all relevant security updates (it just doesn't change its major version number on a whim like iOS does). In fact, if you just look at the security community, most of the secure forks of Android are still based on Android 1.6 or Android 2.x, because those older versions have been vetted and analyzed the most.

      • by tepples (727027)

        Android 2.3 gets all relevant security updates

        Like Windows XP, Android 2 never got the update to Transport Layer Security to allow connecting to web servers that host more than one SSL site on one IP address [wikipedia.org].

      • by Karlt1 (231423)

        And no, what you're implying is completely false. Android 2.3 gets all relevant security updates (it just doesn't change its major version number on a whim like iOS does).

        What good is it if Google releases security updates and the manufacturer and the carrier never push the updates to the phone?

  • API level (Score:5, Informative)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:32PM (#44074115) Homepage

    Most of it's that the "fragmentation" in Android really isn't visible at the developer level. Sure you've got a lot of versions. But in general the API changes between versions don't break backwards compatibility: if you wrote code for API level 8 (Android 2.2), it's almost certainly going to run just fine on a device running API level 17 (Android 4.2.2). It mostly comes down to picking the minimum API level that supports all the features you need and writing to that. There's only a relatively few places where you need to explicitly handle differences, eg. coding for "If the device supports NFC then hook up the handlers for it, otherwise don't bother.". Most of those are just like that, simple feature tests: does this device have GPS, does it have a camera, and so on. Only a small minority are truly complicated to handle and need special coding based on the Android version.

    It's a lot like cars. There's how many car manufacturers, and how many hundred different models? Yet when you sit down in one you don't worry about that huge degree of fragmentation. The controls will mostly be where they ought to be and the ones that aren't aren't safety-critical and aren't that hard to figure out, and while the shape of the fenders and design of the taillights may change the looks dramatically that doesn't really impact your ability to drive it.

  • Another form of fragmentation is different hardware, including screen sizes and resolutions. While the variety of iOS devices and hardware is not as big as Android, I'm sure that the differences still cause headaches for their developers. And there's no doubt that Android suffers more from version fragmentation, largely because Android phone manufacturers don't have the balls to stop accepting money from the telcos and other parties for incorporating their shovelware.

    With that said, I'm surprised that
  • App revenue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guspaz (556486) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:37PM (#44074167)

    Android has 75% of the device shipments, but Apple has 74% of app revenue. Fragmentation may not affect device shipments, but it certainly seems to be affecting other things.

    Look at it another way. Android has 75% device shipment marketshare. Apple has 18%. This means Google ships 4.17x as many devices. But (not knowing the Android app store marketshare), Apple has a minimum of 2.85x the overall app store revenue.

    This means that Apple devices, on average, produce roughly 12x the app revenue. Is this because of platform fragmentation? Is this because of Apple's demograhics? I don't know, but dismissing fragmentation based purely on device shipment market share is shortsighted.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eddy (18759)

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

      • Re:App revenue (Score:5, Insightful)

        by harperska (1376103) on Friday June 21, 2013 @05:36PM (#44074609)

        Anecdote is not the singular of data. When aggregate studies show that more money is to be made developing for iOS, two games by one studio that buck that trend do not negate the aggregate. It just provides an interesting data point that happens to be an outlier. Independent studies that unbiasedly sample a large number of apps that are on both platforms which show that the conventional wisdom is wrong would be newsworthy. As would analysis of apps like this to see why they buck the trend, and whether that difference can be capitalized in other apps. But to use a single data point simply as a counterpoint to a trend is laughable.

        • by tepples (727027)

          As would analysis of apps like this to see why they buck the trend

          I think the object of publishing an anecdote like this is to encourage someone else to make such an analysis as a response.

        • by ctid (449118)

          There are several more data points in this article [gamasutra.com]. Android game revenues do not appear to be ahead of iOS game revenues, but there have been several articles at Gamasutra that suggest that the gap is nowhere near as much as expected.

  • by spire3661 (1038968) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:42PM (#44074227) Journal
    Apple still has feature fragmentation. Airdrop is going to be Iphone 5 or above only. I find it hard to believe an iphone 4 cant exchange files in the field.
  • by tlambert (566799) on Friday June 21, 2013 @04:45PM (#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.

  • Annoyed fanboy? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gnasher719 (869701)
    This really, really sounds like an Android fan who just can't stand it if Apple has something good to say about iOS.

    Fact #1: Apple doesn't care about the market share of Android. Apple's market share in the phone market has been growing every year since 2007 when it started at zero. Today, cheap feature phones are being replaced with cheap smartphones. But if you don't buy a $600 iPhone but choose a $100 phone instead, Apple doesn't care whether that $100 phone is a Nokia feature phone or a cheap Android
  • If you are interested in software sales, the only thing that matters is how many people are going to actually *buy* your app.

    The real question is how many dollars a year users of each version are spending on apps (and if developers are considering iOS, how the dollars per year compare with Apple users).

    My completely anecdotal guess is developers can pretty safely forget v.2.x of Android without hugely harming sales.

    The real question (and I don't have enough info) is should developers who are trying to make

  • by goruka (1721094) on Friday June 21, 2013 @05:16PM (#44074485)
    For applications, it never wasn't much of a problem.
    However for games, the biggest problems I faced were the different configurations of the CPU (some included NEON and some didn't, which improves performance enormously), and the GPU ( OpenGL ES implementations were buggy depending on drivers, different texture compression schemes, etc).

    Nowadays, everything is coming out with NEON and future phones are starting to support OpenGL ES 3.0, which is much more standarized (that will take some years to settle though). However, it's mainly supporting the 4 main architectures properly by checking the extensions: Tegra, Adreno, Mali and PowerVR. There are more (like the Rockchip ones, but those usually come with crappy hardware), but supporting those means that your app or game will run pretty much anywhere.
    The challenge is probably dealing with different screen resolutions and aspect ratios, which wasn't a problem on iOS until recently (iPhone 5).

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