Android hardware and software fragmentation visualized

By on July 30, 2013, 12:09 PM
apple, android, ios, software, gingerbread, hardware, jelly bean, fragmentation, opensignal

App maker OpenSignal has published a new report on Android fragmentation and despite what Google may say about the situation, it’s far from under control. By looking at more than half a million Android devices that downloaded the company’s Wi-Fi / cell signal finder app, they discovered a staggering 11,868 unique devices running Google’s mobile operating system – up from just 3,997 a year ago.

If you recall, Google’s most recent numbers show that Jelly Bean now accounts for 37.9 percent of all Android installations. This was significant as the newest version finally surpassed Gingerbread which now sits at 34.1 percent. Keep in mind that Gingerbread was released three years ago.

As “bad” as it may seem in visually, OpenSignal says the situation isn’t really a disaster. They point out that the availability of cheap Android phones (which rarely ship with the most recent version) means Android handsets have a much greater global reach than iOS devices.

That could all change in the near future as Apple is preparing to release a budget iPhone complete with a new naming convention: iPhone 5C. This could help Cupertino extend their reach into developing countries although it’s unclear whether or not the cheaper handset would run iOS 7 like its bigger brother.

What’s more, handset fragmentation translates into more choices, configurations and more competitive pricing for the consumer. That said, fragmentation can equally be looked at as providing choices to buyers. It’s a point that people often overlook when discussing Android fragmentation.




User Comments: 9

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gamoniac said:

That said, fragmentation can equally be looked at as providing choices to buyers.

If fragmentation is good for providing choices, it does little to enforce post-sale device support. Case in point, both my Android devices (2.0 and 4.0) were literally abandoned by their manufacturers (Samsung and Lenovo respectively) less than six months after they hit the market. (The Lenovo tech guy even suggested that I root my barely six-month old device to upgrade to 4.1, which would void the warranty... seriously).

I recognize this is not Google's fault, but the bottom line is they have no control over it. Burnt twice as a consumer, I will avoid Android device unless it is made by Google (eg Nexus line), or go with another OS that has better post sales support. * I am not sure about Samsung's post-sale support in recent years.

mobilevangelist said:

As daunting as the first graphic looks, the Android OS allows developers to account for all of the different screen sizes. A good Android developer will not have (much of) a problem with screen sizes and resolutions.

The issue is Android internals. What's missing from the second graphic is all the fragmentation as a result of the manufacturers and/or carriers creating their own flavor of Android. Android 4.1 from Google is not the same as 4.1 from Samsung or HTC. That's what gives Android developers fits.

As gamoniac points out, that's not Google's fault, but without exerting some kind of control through certification or the like, it's not going to get better any time soon. Their move with the Google Edition phones is a step in the right direction as hopefully users will find that the best Android is the one that Google meant for you to use (even if it is missing a few cool features).

misor misor said:

...availability of cheap Android phones (which rarely ship with the most recent version)....

no longer holds true.

Samsung has released cheap android 4.xx smartphones costing about 80-120$ for the Philippine market and presumably other markets where low cost is the primary consideration.

Cherry Mobile, also an android smartphone (and tablet) maker, has also released sub 100$ android 4.xx smartphones for the Philippines (and India, I think).

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

If my next phone isn't a Nexus, it'll be a Windows phone... if they're still around.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Saw this a couple days ago. It's pretty much a graph of all Android handsets and software versions. Not fragmentation.

PinothyJ said:

Saw this a couple days ago. It's pretty much a graph of all Android handsets and software versions. Not fragmentation.

You, you are an fool. Those are exactly the same thing. The graphs shows the fragmentation of OS versions -_-.

Le sigh...

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Alright, I'll rephrase. It's not 'fragmentation' in the sense of "spread software versions causing issues" that people like to make a deal of. We need to define this better.

I can just make a graph of all flower species and say "HURRR SO FRAGMENTED".

Divvet said:

Saw this a couple days ago. It's pretty much a graph of all Android handsets and software versions. Not fragmentation.

You, you are an fool. Those are exactly the same thing. The graphs shows the fragmentation of OS versions -_-.

Le sigh...

Sigh, I love how you call someone a fool, yet the correct use of grammar escapes you.

As St1ckM4n points out, this is not fragmentation, you could do the same for Windows versions and PC manufacturers and you would get the same sort of graph.

Fragmentation ended in Android with Gingerbread when Google separated allot of the OS in to separate applications, which allowed easier updating of the phone.

Apple has similar fragmentation. Yes most their devices get updated to the latest iOS on release, but not every model gets all the features available in that latest update. This is fragmentation as well.

So, a pointless article, clearly no understanding of the actual situation.

Divvet said:

[link]

Have a read people, makes my point exactly.

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