If you skipped Mobot town on Thursday, you might’ve missed OpenSignalMaps’ shocking declaration that Android is – in many ways – a rather fragmented ecosystem. Tell us something we don’t know, man.
However, despite being completely innocuous, said news item yielded the craziest comment/rant of the week. Clearly someone hasn’t read Chill. The fug. Out.
I intended to reply at the time, but I a) was incredibly busy, and b) realised that the resulting rant could probably be spun into a balls-out feature, efficiently killing two broads with one stone. Huzzah!
The offending story was all very light-hearted and full of interesting stats and stuff. Essentially, OpenSignalMaps was saying: “Hey, look at all these different Android devices that downloaded our app over a six-month period.”
Now, the thing that really got Android developer yowanvista’s goat was my use of the word “fragmented” in the headline. In my defense, I was - quite clearly, I thought - quoting the OpenSignalMaps article, which uses the word several times throughout.
Similarly, if I were to scribble the headline: "Tim Cook: Windows Phone 7 sucks", that's me telling you that Tim Cook said Windows Phone 7 sucks. You see how that works?
Contrary to yowanvista’s belief, I’m not an Apple fanboy intent on taking down Google’s thriving OS via a 200-word news piece on fragmentation (a bit beyond even my, er, "talents"). Nor was I out to score cheap hits; if that were the case we’d relay every single bloody iPhone 5 rumour out there, and there are plenty of them. Yawn.
Nah, conspiracy theories aside, it’s simply what I hope is a semi-interesting news piece about the vast array of Android devices out there. Stats, stats, stats… blah, blah, blah… let's all laugh at the Hungarian tablet... everyone goes home happy.
Unless you’re a belligerent Android developer.
See, yowanvista’s beef is that “fragmentation” – to him, at least – occurs when apps are only compatible with certain devices. There could be, for example, a requirement for minimum resolution or Android version. That’s the way yowanvista defines fragmentation, because – in his own words – that’s what “Google Executives” told him.
Sorry, guy, but the Oxford Dictionary definition of fragmentation – regardless of what Schmidt or Cook say – is: “the process or state of breaking or being broken into fragments”.
That’s why us writers (ok, bloggers) use fragmentation to describe the situation with all the different versions of Android. The latest figures from Android Developers suggest that – almost six months after it hit shelves – Ice Cream Sandwich appears on less than 5% of active devices, with 11 - count 'em - versions of Android in total. Regardless of which OS you’re rooting for, that figure ain’t so good.
Incidentally, it’s much like when we report that Windows Phone 7 has a tiny share of the smartphone market. That’s not an opinion, man, that’s a fact. Deal with it.
Now where was I? Ahh yes; those troublemakers at OpenSignalMaps. In The Many Faces of a Little Green Robot, they describe fragmentation as both a blessing (choice) and a curse (compatibility). This is coming from a company that provides a friggin’ Android app, so – again – there’s no bias there. Well, mostly.
And just to show that I’m not biased, I’m all in favour of Google’s rumoured tactic of bringing up to five developers on board for the next round of Nexus devices. It’d make perfect sense.
The theory is that the multi-manufacturer move would appease concerns about favouritism for Google’s Motorola, while – this is the relevant bit – ensuring that more devices are on board with Android Jelly Bean from day 1, thus reducing – wait for it, yowanvista – fragmentation.
Apologies for not including this 600-word disclaimer in the original news piece, but, y’know, most of our readers aren’t paranoid, Android-obsessed developers.