Android fragmentation: 86% say it's a problem

Android fragmentation: 86% say it's a problemGingerbread, Froyo, Honeycomb, Eclair... Android fragmentation is the issue that just won't go away for Google.

In fact, given that we've still got at least four full versions of Android currently out in the wild, you could argue that the problem is getting worse, not better. And it's not just us saying that – 86% of developers see fragmentation is an issue for Android too.

In some ways Google has been a victim of its own success. In working at breakneck speed to keep Android moving forward in terms of new features and tweaks, Google has outed on average more than two versions of Android a year since the platform launched in 2008.

The result, of course, is that many people are walking around with phones running versions of the mobile OS that are out of date – a fact only made worse by the fact that each phone manufacturer decides itself when – or even if – it will offer an upgrade to the latest version. It's a frustrating state of affairs, so we're not too surprised to hear that a full 86% of Android developers think fragmentation is a problem.

A Baird survey of Android devs revealed that more than half (57%) ranked fragmentation as either a “huge” or “meaningful” issue, with nearly a third saying it's a problem, but not a major one. Just 14% of respondents said they weren't concerned at all. Via BGR

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JanSt / MOD  Apr. 5, 2011 at 13:44

It clearly is.
Look at the posts in the Android boards here or on any phone forum - "why doesn't xyz work on my abc Android” is probably the most frequently asked question.
With the iPhone people generally know what they get (as with Symbian and Blackberrys), because the iPhones are practically all the same. And if a problem arises, answers are easily found. With 'Android'...well, there is NO one Android OS. Anything from 1.6 to 2.3 might hit the lay shopper who thought they bought AN Android. In my experience, following poor battery life, this fragmentation is the top reason why 1st-time Androiders switch to another OS, be that iOS, BB or the old but at least familiar Symbian.
A recent study found a whopping third of smartphone owners in the UK do not know what handset they own. US tech writers and gadget fans forget we are not the 'norm'.
Spend time in real phone stores and listen in (it's okay for 'research ;) )...
I recently considered buying a midrange Android to bridge time until a handset I really want is out. I needed Skype and OM .... Playing ignorant I went to 5 local shops - in 4 I was recommended handsets for which Skype wasnt available. Yet they were recommended. The 5th store said Androids have poor battery life, which Skype doesn't like (correct) - then they recommended a Blackberry (for which Skype isn't available o_O).

Heed20  Apr. 6, 2011 at 18:37

I forget that the general population don't really know about things like this. As I work with loads of engineers all my colleagues are abreast of current releases of phone operating systems. Most of my colleagues run custom ROM's on their androids with a few overclocked phones in the office.

I'd imagine most of the android world is on 2.1 or 2.2 at the moment.

martin4  Apr. 7, 2011 at 17:30

The thing that these guys don't say is that it's an issue with a solution - you follow the coding standards and your app works on any phone which it is capable of running on, and won't even appear in the market for a phone which it is not capable or running on. It's an issue for every developer in that you do have to think about coding, but there's a difference between an issue and a problem. And this is only a problem for crap developers - typically either noobs or devs switching from other platforms.


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