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Will the fragmentation ultimately kill/cripple Android?

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by A.Nonymous, Sep 29, 2010.

  1. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    Jun 7, 2010
    Am I the only one who thinks the fragmentation is ultimately going to kill Android or cripple it severely? We have quite a few devices running 2.1, more and more are running 2.2, but manufacturers are still selling devices running 1.6 which is just insane. When Gingerbread comes, some of the 2.2 devices will get it and some won't which will make it worse. I think it makes it insanely confusing to the customers. At least with Apple, you basically have iOS 4 and then you've got 3.1.3. Anything older than that is basically not supported so you know if your device is older than two years old it's not supported. Currently you can buy brand spanking new Android devices that have 1.6 and won't run a lot of the apps on the market.

    To make it worse, it's now heavily rumored that Amazon is going to start it's own Android market. So to make it even more confusing for the average consumer, you've now got three different market places on your device - Google's market, Amazon's market, and the market that VZW and Sprint are going to make for their devices. Let's say I see you playing Angry Birds and want that app. I go to the Amazon marketplace and it's not there. Now I'm insanely confused. Why is this not there? Where did you get it? Maybe I go to the VZW market and it's not there either because the developer only submitted it to the Google market. How is this not confusing for the consumer?

    And it's almost worse for a developer. If you're a developer, you have to support your app on 1.6, 2.1, 2.2 and (soon) 3.0. That's 4 platforms your app has to run on. Not to mention you now have 4 different stores you have to submit your app to if you want it available to everyone. If I want everyone to have my app, I've got to submit to the Google market, the Amazon market, the VZW market and the Sprint market. Some of these markets will not doubt be more locked down than others and will cost more to submit than others. With iOS, I pay once, submit to one place, jump through Apple's (sometimes ridiculous) hoops and my app gets through. I have to deal with only one place. With Android I've got 4 places I've got to deal with and I pretty much have to pay to submit to all four or consumer's won't be able to find my app. It doesn't matter how kickass my app is if no one can find it. Am I the only one seeing a major problem here that just keeps getting worse and worse?


  2. UncleMike

    UncleMike Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Central NJ
    As far as Android version go, it's even worse than you say... the i1 runs Android 1.5. As far as new devices being released with "outdated" Android OS versions, I think that will hurt sales of that particular device more than it will hurt Android, though the effect on the Android name won't be good. I would love to see the same effect on devices where the manufacturer forces their hokey UI customizations on users, which can cause compatibility problems with apps.

    For app stores, they will only stick around if they make a profit. I would like to see developers and users boycott third party stores in an effort to avoid confusion, make these stores unprofitable and ultimately fail. Thanks to Amazon MP3 being pre-installed on my Droid, I will NEVER by ANYTHING from Amazon on my phone.
  3. faugusztin

    faugusztin Well-Known Member

    Jan 8, 2010
    Fragmentation is overrated. In reality, you get usually just three categories of apps - targetted for Android 1.5, 1.6 or 2.x. And apps which needs higher android version will not show up on lower end devices (read Android <2.1) - which according to Google Market stats makes up less than 30% of all devices. If you target 2.1 platform, over 70% of devices having access to market will have no problems running them. So once again, what fragmentation ? You got 12% of Android 1.5, 17.5% of Android 1.6 and 70.4% of Android 2.1 or higher. The numbers of 1.5/1.6 devices will slowly fade away, either because SE X10 will finally move from 1.6 to 2.1 or because people will upgrade, so i expect a sub-10% number for 1.x devices aroud May 2011. So 1.x won't be a platform to target anymore. Also most of 2.1 devices will get upgrade to 2.2. (Motorola Milestone for example), so number of people stuck at 2.1 will also go lower because of migration to 2.2, while also increasing because of the stupid SE X10. So numbers of 2.1 will probably decrease by 10-20% till half of the next year, the rest will be 2.2 or 3.0. 10% of 1.x (not important anymore), 20-30% of 2.1, and the rest will be either 2.2 or 3.0. So in reality you will get two platforms - 2.x (because no one will target 2.2 if they can target 2.1 unless they really need the functionality from 2.2) and 3.x. That's it - in reality in next year you will have 2 Android platforms.

    Markets... We all can safely assume that no one will ignore Google Market, period. All stuff you can find on alternate markets are on Google Market too. Other markets are just a suplemental markets - that includes Amazon, Verizon and all other "markets". It's maybe sad for the developers, but that is how is it. Neither Amazon or Verizon are big enough to change that.

    Developers - as stated before, the common denominator now is 1.6 unless you need 2.x functionality, this will slowly shift towards 2.1 unless you need 3.x functionality.

    Long story short - as it was said before, "fragmentation" is overrated. In reality you have 2 target platforms now (1.6+ and 2.1+, 1.5 is neglected), which will soon transition to another 2 target platforms (2.1+ and 3.0+, 1.x will be neglected), you got one market where you must be present (Google Market) and then aditional markets (Amazon, Verizon). No major problem.

    PS: The aditional markets - it can be good to put stuff here if you want to sell in countries where these markets will run, but the Google Market doesn't support sales. In markets where Google Market does support buying apps, the aditional markets bring nothing extra and are already doomed.
  4. icecold

    icecold Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2009
    The android market will be the main market, where as mentioned earlier, Verizon and Amazon will be supplemental (mostly Verizon and Amazon specific apps).

    As far as the fragmentation issue...

    1.x versions shipping out on new smart phones, some of that has to fall on the consumer's lap. It is like buying a Prius and then being enraged it won't perform like a Corvette. A semi-educated consumer will be able to make a smart buy for what his/her needs are.

    Android is shipping out on multiple phones, multiple manufactures, multiple carriers. It would be impossible for one standardized version of Android to only be shipped out from January 1st to December 31st. Apple puts out a new version of iOS once a year, and it has 4 phones to worry about (maybe only 3 now?) and in the US one carrier. To compare the two is impossible on that level.

    So, just because Android goes away from the Apple mold, doesn't mean it will not succeed....
  5. Eugene

    Eugene Well-Known Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    I agree with the fragmentation is over-rated remark, its just something the Apple crowd is blowing out of proportion. Want to see what fragmentation really looks like, try finding an app for windows mobile. You have to sort through standard and pro, 6.5, 6.1, 6.0, 5.x, earlier, what version of .net (mobile) framework you have or need, etc.
  6. grindstoneslave

    grindstoneslave Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2010
    Android will be fine. It's the number two OS right now and gaining momentum by the day.
  7. Demache

    Demache Well-Known Member

    Apr 18, 2010
    Sioux Falls, SD
    I don't think it will be a huge problem. Its no different than any other smartphone OS in this regard. iOS is the only one that has a very good record for keeping their phones up to date. However, they have a very small amount of devices to develop for compared to most manufacturers.

    Symbian has managed well, same with Windows Mobile. I think it will be fine.
  8. brykins

    brykins Well-Known Member

    Nov 17, 2009
    Peterborough, UK
    I don't think the fragmentation itself will harm Android (after all, it's not harmed Microsoft with many versions of Windows in use), but what I think *will* hurt it, and in a big way and pretty soon, will be security and the route for updates.

    I'd place money on a serious security threat in the next six months. As Android gets more wide-spread and more widely known, it will be targeted by those wishing to steal info, rack up charges on premium SMS's, etc.

    The nature of Android means that updates go from Google -> Manufacturer -> Network Operator and this takes, quite literally, months. We were told about 2.2 by Google in April. I got it on my T-Mobile branded handset in September. Imagine is that was a security update. Would people stand for that on their desktop computers?

    Google *MUST* take control of the core operating system and remove responsibility from the manufacturers and network operators. By all means have HTC push out their Sense overlay OTA but it must run on top of Android, NOT be embedded within it. The network operators can push out their logos and add-on apps, but again, they must run on top of the OS. The actual OS updates must come direct from Google and they must come in a timely manner.

    As soon as that first security problem hits and us users with network branded handsets have to wait for the important update, Android is doomed.
  9. Thefoodman52

    Thefoodman52 Well-Known Member

    Dec 1, 2009
    Resource Consumer
    San Diego
    Oh my... I just faded away into a dream world reading that paragraph... if only HTC or even Motorola wouldn't do that crap. I never use anything related to Sense on my Evo... I do, quite literally, mean never. If I flashed CM6, I wouldn't be missing one thing that comes with the Evo stock/ on a stock ROM. I just want everything to work right, so for now, I just dis-able anything I can related to sense.

    I have to work a pun in here, I'm on a mini-roll tonight; it makes no sense for HTC to remove the major parts of stock android in place of their own software. I know, yes, they have control over what makes it to the phone, but that's the equivalent of someone like Sony or HP removing the GUI on Windows 7 in their computers for another, slower one. It makes no sense, and most people either immediately or shortly begin looking for an alternative to what was there to begin with.

    You could NOT have worded that godly paragraph any better. Manufacturers need to add their own stuff onto the phone. I'll agree with this. However, it needs to ONLY be added to the phone. No, not replace the core components of the stock OS, but simply be added-to on top of it, literally like a skin. I want the ability to disable the things HTC does to my phone in place of the things I want to do with it. Not just hide them, while they still run over what I want to do...
  10. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    Jun 7, 2010
    This is the way I see it. Google only lets it's apps on phones that it blesses. Android is open source, but Google's apps aren't. If VZW or Sprint or Amazon or whomever has their own app store, then they don't have to wait for Google's approval. They can release a device with whatever features they want or don't want on it and simply not put the Google Marketplace on the device. Amazon could release an Android based Kindle type device and put the Amazon market place on it or VZW could release a phone with just the VZW branding and the VZW store on it.

    The different version of the OS being out there are just crazy. Google really needs to put the kibosh on it somehow. I think the average person walks into the store and says, "Give me Android." If they're given a 1.X device, they may quickly determine that Android is junk and give up on it altogether not realizing they're using a very, very dated device.

    If I was Google, I would do the following:

    1. Mandate that all new devices have to run at least 2.1. Any device that comes out with 1.X will not have access to the Google Marketplace. Simple as that. You cut access to the marketplace and you basically force people to upgrade. When 3.0 comes out, mandate that it can only go on new devices so you don't cause more fragmentation in the market.

    2. Mandate that any device that runs Android must include the Google marketplace. This lets developers submit their apps to other markets if they choose, but gives them one place that has access to all of their apps. If developers want to target their app at users of an Android based Kindle type device that Amazon puts out, they can do that. If they want to target all Android users, they can submit to the marketplace.

    3. Give users the ability to access all the other markets if they choose to. This maintains the openness of the platform.

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