Google’s Android already a fragmented mess as it hits 16,000 apps mark

“Google’s Android developer group Dec. 17 released a device dashboard to help developers decide what iterations of the Android operating system their applications should support,” Clint Boulton reports for eWeek.

“That dashboard also happens to show just how fragmented the mobile platform aimed at challenging Apple’s iPhone has become,” Boulton reports. “The dashboard currently lists 5 Android instantiations of varying distribution through the first two weeks of December: 1.1, 1.5, 1.6, 2.0 and the fresh 2.0.1.”

Boulton reports, “Google said it will expand the dashboard to include information such as devices per screen size, and will update the dashboard to reflect deployment of new Android platforms.”

“Why is Google offering this device dashboard? Google Android developer Raphael Moll’s official reason is: ‘Our goal is to provide you with the tools and information to make it easy for you to target specific versions of the platform or all the versions that are deployed in volume,'” Boulton reports. “The unofficial reason is that Google is aware of the increasing fragmentation of Android.”

“To see them rounded up, literally, in a pie chart showing the varying rates of adoption (or lack thereof) is a sobering experience. In Android fragmentation, applications written for one OS iteration may not run on others,” Boulton reports. “Also, apps written for newer Android builds may not run on older hardware.”

Boulton reports, “Meanwhile, a Google spokesperson confirmed for eWEEK that there are 16,000 Android free and paid apps, not 20,000 as others previously reported.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: By SteveJack: Google Android offers the same messy, inconsistent Windows PC “experience,” but without any cost savings, real or perceived. Windows only thrived back in the mid-90s because PCs (and Macs) were so expensive; the upfront cost advantage roped in a lot of people. Microsoft still coasts along on that momentum today. The fact is: Apple’s iPhone 3G costs just $99 and the 3GS goes for only $199 in the U.S. with a 2-year plan. I’d call Android the “Poor Man’s iPhone,” but you have to spend just as much, if not more, to partake in an increasingly fragmented and inferior platform. As iPhone expands onto more and more carriers, Android’s only real selling point (“I’m stuck on Verizon or some other carrier that doesn’t offer the iPhone”) evaporates.

MacDailyNews Note: Motorola’s Droid ships with only 256 MB available for app storage. Google Android does not support installation of apps to SD cards, so developers face a very real and rather stifling limit. Many of the most popular iPhone apps (games) easily exceed 100 MB, so not very many quality apps would fit on Droid (and some won’t fit at all: our Magellan RoadMate app ($59.99) alone weighs in at 1.36GB*). That’s why Droid only offers users three measly panels for displaying apps; users probably won’t even be able to fill up two before they run out of storage space.

*Droid comes with a built-in turn-by-turn app Google’s Maps Navigation likely because no other nav app would come close to fitting into the Droid’s limited 256MB app storage space. So much for choice: With Droid, you’re stuck with that one nav app forever, but iPhone offers a tremendous array of choices. Motorola Droid. iDon’t have anything close to enough space for apps.

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. Is this article supposed to be a parody?
    Of course I expect some bias as this is a website dedicated to Apple, but this is going a bit far. It’s not just a matter of preference anymore, you really do HATE the competition.

    I know “fragmentation” has become something of a catchphrase among the nuttiest of Mac users when discussing Android, but if the problem really was as devastating as you make it out to be, I think we would have heard more about it from both consumers and developers. Sure, there have been some complaints, but nothing that would warrant this screed.

  2. Once again, Apple’s control of both hardware and software as well as simple product differentiation give it a huge advantage.

    But even where vendors have the opportunity to control hardware and software, they often shoot themselves in the foot by spinning out too many different models. I was looking into a first car/portable GPS (don’t drive much) and was stunned how many different models Magellan, Garmin and Tom Tom each offer. I’m a technical guy (worked 25 years as a computer specialist) and consider myself a gadget guy, but such product variety is pointlessly confusing.

  3. do you do any research before your open your big fat mouth and spew lies in your takes???

    First, about the app limit,
    yes there is an app limit, but you only store the actual app on the internal memory, and all to other data that the app saves or uses as stored on the memory card, sort of like games you install on your computer, but still need the CD to play it because most of the info is on the CD
    most reviews I read about the Droid have stated that they have downloaded all the apps they wanted and haven’t even came close to the limit

    and second,
    in my opinion it is easier to organize all the apps and WIDGETS I use most frequently on three panels and tuck the rest away in an easily accessible app drawer.

  4. The software fragmentation isn’t nearly as much a problem as the hardware framentation. The manufacturers will have to agree to some form factor eventually to ensure Android developers don’t have to check for 75 models with numerous screensizes and so on.

  5. @ Me,

    What don’t you understand about 6 to 8 different screen sizes, 6 to 8 different OS versions, 2 to 3 different processors and 3 or 4 different user input methods.

    That’s the potential for 6 X 6 X 2 X 3 = 216 different combinations. A minimum of 216 different versions of every App must be made just to have an App that any Android using phone owner can buy.

    Has that gotten through to you yet? There will be no updating of Android phones to the latest OS. There will be no approved hardware set. Many Android phones will be orphaned long before their owners’ 2 year contract is over.

    Good luck finding an App for your particular phone, Android lover.

    We don’t hate Android. We just wonder how anyone could buy into a Windows Mobile clone like Android. Don’t you ever learn?

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