Fragmandroid: Google Android fragmentation visualized

“Android devices come in all shapes and sizes, with vastly different performance levels and screen sizes,” OpenSignal reports. “Furthermore, there are many different versions of Android that are concurrently active at any one time, adding another level of fragmentation. What this means is that developing apps that work across the whole range of Android devices can be extremely challenging and time-consuming.”

“This graph shows the challenge that faces Android developers; over 18,000 distinct devices can immediately use their app, making optimization a real challenge. Compared to last year, fragmentation has risen by around 60%, with 11,868 devices seen last year compared to 18,796 this year. Compared to our first report, in 2012, device fragmentation has more than quadrupled – with our first report showing that there were ‘only’ 3,997 distinct Android devices,” OpenSignal reports. “Another way of looking at how fragmentation affects developers is to see what % of the market is occupied by the top 10 devices – as developers generally only own a few devices to test on. Last year having the 10 most popular devices in the market would represent 21% of the devices out there, this year that number has fallen to 15% – making testing on a few devices less representative.”

Fragmandroid: Android device fragmentation, August 2014 (via OpenSignal)
Fragmandroid: Android device fragmentation, August 2014 (via OpenSignal)

 
Android fragmentation of all kinds is usually illustrated in comparison with iOS. These two pie charts clearly show the difference in API fragmentation between the two competing operating systems.

Mobile operating system fragmentation, Apple's iOS vs. Google's Android, August 2014 (via OpenSignal)
Mobile Operating system fragmentation, Apple’s iOS vs. Google’s Android, August 2014 (via OpenSignal)

 
Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: And, the Mobile OS comparison doesn’t even include forked versions (Amazon Kindle, Fire Phone, etc.) into the fragmandroid morass.

Smart seller (example: Steve Jobs): “I’m going to focus on delighting the people with money and the proven will to spend it.”
Result: The world’s most valuable company. By far.

Mentally challenged seller (example: Michael Dell): “I’m going to make it up on volume.”
Result: Company delisted from Nasdaq on October 29, 2013.

Related articles:
Fragmandroid: Bounden delayed on Android due to widespread fragmentation, faulty or faked gyroscopes – May 21, 2014
Fragmandroid: Android fragmentation visualized – July 31, 2013
Fragmandroid: Google Android fragmentation visualized – May 17, 2012
Fragmandroid: Google’s mad dash to Microsoftdom – December 15, 2009

26 Comments

  1. Earnestly want to know…

    What is the difference between Android’s variation of 4.0 versions of their OS totaling 85.7 versus Apple’s iOS 7.0 versions totaling 91%?

    I know the carriers apply their skins to make it “unique” therefore an Android OS user might not be able to upgrade but that fault lies with the carrier, well, and the idiot that purchased an Android phone but again how is it different if 19.8% were on iOS 7.0, 10.6% were on iOS 7.0.3, 9.5% were on iOS 7.0.4 and 26.8% were on iOS 7.1.1, while 33.3% were on iOS 7.1.2…

    Thank you

    1. Regarding the Android 4.x releases. That’s a reasonable question. From the tone of your question, you seem to suggest that iOS is just as fragmented. It’s not, here’s why…
      With Anrdoid, the 4.x releases go back to 2011 and each release represents a major OS release, with new features and new API levels. For example, 4.03 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is API Level 15. 4.4 is API level 19. Each API level represents a different target for developers with different capabilities, etc.
      On iOS, each iOS 7.x release is simply about bug fixes and security patches. I believe they did a few things like allow options to disable the parallax effect, etc. However, the APIs and the targets for developers are all the same. From all practical perspectives, there is no fragmentation with regard to iOS 7.

    2. OMG are you really asking that question??? Trolling or what.??

      While there may be only slight differences between minor upgrades, if you have iOS and you can do 6.1, you can do all of them. You are just too lazy to press “YES”.
      With Android, your carrier may not provide the change. You see, they may sell 40 different phones and each one may respond to that minor change differently.

      iOS is different in that Apple makes the parts and the software so they KNOW just how the change will affect EVERY model.

      So, question answered.

  2. MDN, why don’t you break down iOS into its different updates? Moreover, even though Apple claims that a user could run iOS7 on an older iPhone, the reality is that running iOS7.0+ on an iPhone 4S takes it from being a very good smartphone into being an intolerable slow annoying not-so-smart phone. On the Android side, each hardware maker has the option of tailoring the OS to the hardware, and it controls the subsequent updates. The fragmentation issue that you show is not an issue for most users, nor most developers. After all, they are the SAME developers that write for iOS. Why don’t you show how iOS has almost completely lost its lead in unique apps?

    1. Mike, ??? really??? You come across as totally trolling for Android here. Read the comments above by Steve and Wirehead. They break it down very clearly.

      And yes running the latest version may slow down your older phone, but it can speed it up too, depending on what you are doing and how much you are doing.

      VS the android side, “each hardware maker has the option of tailoring the OS to the hardware,” Yes they do. BUT THEY DO NOT. They are out to make profit. Period. They want you to buy a new phone.
      The rest of the comments just show that you are only looking at things to support what you want to see. Really, fragmentation not an issue??? Read articles from companies that have left Android exactly because of fragmentation.

      Sorry, but you are way off on this one.

      Just saying.

    2. They did break iOS down to its updates: iOS 6 and iOS 7.

      If you mean the device fragmentation as per the upper chart, that might be interesting to see, but keep in mind the iPhone has had exactly 3 types of screen resolution, original, 2x the original, and slightly longer version of the 2x res for iPhone 5.

      The iPad similarly had original res, mini, double original and double mini.

      Adding all those resolutions up you have 3 for iPhone, 4 for iPad for a total of 7. How many different configurations on resolution exist on Android? The amount of pixels and their dimensions is non trivial when designing mobile interfaces.

      Simply comparing the number of devices and specs between iPhone and Android doesn’t really do justice to the sheer amount of fragmentation differential between the two platforms.

      1. I totally agree.
        Yet, the advent of new resolutions has caused a flurry of app updates, because many iOS app (stupidly) weren’t developed with robustness in mind with regard to screen pixel sizes. It doesn’t help much to have resolution independence if app developers totally ignore the issue.

    3. Oh, and I forgot to respond to this gem:
      “The fragmentation issue that you show is not an issue for most users, nor most developers.”

      The fragmentation only is not an issue for users that only plan to run stock Android without adding Apps. If you want a high quality selection of Apps you only have iOS as an option as Android has major security issues where downloading Apps is dangerous, along with many major developers not developing on Android at all or leaving the platform because of the serious and growing problem of fragmentation.

      That problem is actually getting worse so you will see fewer new Apps and more developers leaving the platform.

      If Android had a high percent of the valuable paying customers you might still see developers gut it out, but Android is a lowest common denominator cheapskate OS for bargain bin purchasers who get their phones for free or BOGO.

    4. One more thing about iOS. Vast majority of those who are on iOS 7 are running 7.1.2, since their devices prompt them to update as soon as updates are available, and vast majority of people do this without thinking. Same thing with the legacy devices on iOS 6, which are running the most recent version (6.1.6).

      On Android, most users are stuck on whatever version came out with their phone. If update is ever made available (for some flagship devices, this may happen), it comes at least six months after Google makes it available. And very many users don’t even know how to do this, as the process is often not intuitive and completely depends on the carrier and their custom-branded version of Android.

      On paper, iOS may have lost good part of that lead in unique apps. In reality, almost none of the apps that have been ported from iOS to Android have anywhere near the same features, functionality, stability and polish. As a two-year user of Android (who eventually graduated to the iPhone), I can confirm this for practically every mainstream app I had used on both platforms.

      1. In addition, Android, Linux and open source developers usually don’t have a clue what user friendliness is in GUIs. They seem stuck in the mindframe of a developer and find offering lots of options and functionality sufficient.
        Human Interface Guidelines are not their main concern, and it probably takes years to make these second nature. One aspect is making simple things easy (and more sophisticated things accessible, but not with screenfuls of windows-like checklists with possibly incompatible options).

  3. 0. Dell was #2 in U.S. computer sales in the 2nd quarter. HP, Lenovo and Toshiba joined them in the top 5. Acer, Asus and Samsung make plenty of PCs too.

    1. The growing fragmentation of Android DEVICES means that more companies are making Android products, as well as existing Android companies are introducing new devices. A major growth area in the Android space is devices other than phones and tablets, which is why Android is now a platform instead of merely a mobile OS. Even more impressive is that the best Android innovation is coming from small companies and KIckstarter type projects. And yes, this is happening because Android is making money. If Android was not generating revenue for hardware manufacturers, there would not be so many companies, large and small, marketing Android products.

    2. This was A) selectively excerpted and B) misleadingly editorialized. The actual article itself (which the editors know that few people are going to actually read) states that fragmentation is a BENEFIT of Android.

    The REAL story:

    “Despite the problems, fragmentation also has a great number of benefits – for both developers and users. The availability of cheap Android phones (rarely running the most recent version) means that they have a much greater global reach than iOS, so app developers have a wider audience to build for. Android is successfully filling the gap left behind by the decline of Nokia’s Symbian – and in this report we look at the different shape of fragmentation in countries from different economic positions, as a way of showing that fragmentation benefits Android much more than it hurts it. Android is now the dominant mobile operating system and this is because of fragmentation, not in spite of it.”

    “One of the strengths of Android fragmentation is that it allows for a great amount of freedom for device manufacturers, meaning that consumers are able to get a device that perfectly fits the specifications of their demands. This has proven especially valuable in allowing Android to take the place of Nokia’s Symbian as the go-to OS in less economically developed countries.”

    Of course, you will not see this spin in the tech media, because the tech media is biased in favor of iOS because most tech media writers personally own iPads, iPhones and Macs. But dollars and cents do not lie. Were Android failing, the number of Android SKUs would not have increased from 11,868 devices to 18,796 IN A SINGLE YEAR.

    And it is only going to continue. For several years, Samsung was the only Android player making a real profit on their devices. Now at least a half dozen other OEMs are profitable, with more still likely to reach profitability in 2015. This will mean even more “fragmentation”, which will actually translate to “more Android users, more Android devices and more money for OEMs and developers.”

    1. WOW altman, you had to have been paid to write that. More fragmentation is better……… cause you say so.??????

      And Samsung is now one of many making huge profits making android phones and many more coming????

      Basically fragmentation really means (for the user) that the phone they bought is the phone they end up with. NO improvements in sight, 90% of the time. PERIOD.

      And just what tech media do you read that is strongly in favor of iOS???

      I have to say there is one thing I got from your long post. Crooks that steal lots of money are great for the economy cause they have more money to send. Improving the economy!! Yeah, hope that works for you..
      It must be a friday. LOL

    2. “But dollars and cents do not lie. Were Android failing, the number of Android SKUs would not have increased from 11,868 devices to 18,796 IN A SINGLE YEAR.”

      You used unit counts to show that “dollars and cents do not lie”.

      If you wanted to indicate how dollars and cents were doing you’d show profit share. That’s basically Samsung and iPhone. Samsung is getting hammered on the high end by iOS which it copied, and on the low end by Xiaomi the new shitty iOS clone.

      If you want to make an argument about money you are invariably either:
      1. lying (as you already are)
      2. talking about iOS (or Samsung).

    3. We can play the “Quote the Article” game all day long:

      …”Key to the success of any app is getting the UI right, and Android presents two particular challenges to developers in this regard. Firstly, brands have a tendency to produce their own variants on the system UI (Samsung’s Touchwhizz and the HTC Sense being two such examples – which can change the look of various default elements). Secondly, no other smartphone platform boasts such a proliferation of different screen sizes. Designing and coding layouts that work well across all these screens is hugely challenging. Across the dozen or so iPod-touch, iPhones and iPad varieties there are just 4 different physical screen sizes”…

      Android is precisely what the article claims — replacement for the old Symbian. While the apps parity has been creeping slowly up in the Android world, the feature parity of those apps with iOS is far, far behind. Very few Android apps have anywhere near functionality, stability and polish of their iOS counterparts, and for a good reason: developers direct their development efforts and resources into the platform that will make them money. The only reason why they port their apps to Android is because it has such huge market share. However, because of the huge fragmentation problem, as well as unattractive audience, that porting effort is minimal and result is often a significant lack of features and functionality on the fragmented platform.

      Android represents cheap phones, crappy apps, poor users without money for apps. On the other side, we have iOS, with premium devices, polished apps and users with plenty of disposable income. The consequences are that with the total of exactly 3 (three) models (with minimal variation in storage space), Apple is raking lion’s share of profits in the entire smart phone mobile space (i.e. against hundreds of thousands of models coming from dozens of competitors).

      If that doesn’t demonstrate superiority (and resiliency) of a platform, I don’t know what else does.

      1. It is not a game my friend. All I did was accurately quote and interpret the article. If you have a problem, it is not with me, but the source. But perhaps you can tell me this:

        “Android represents cheap phones, crappy apps, poor users without money for apps.”

        If this were true, then WHY ARE THERE SO MANY COMPANIES MAKING ANDROID PRODUCTS? It is not as if there are not alternatives. There is Windows Phone. There is Firefox OS. There is Ubuntu, who has been trying for years to line up manufacturers and carriers for their phones and tablets. And there is Tizen.

        There is also another option: not making phones and smart devices at all. HTC, LG, Motorola, Sony etc. can exit the mobile phone business like Nokia (the one legacy smartphone manufacturer from before the iPhone that avoided Android incidentally) did. Acer, Asus, HP etc. can continue with other products, or even make accessories for iPads and iPhones. Nope. They are not only all still in business and making money, but new companies offer new products (many that are not even phones or tablets) every year.

        I am sorry, but there is the version of reality that Apple fans choose to believe – that Apple is the only smart device manufacturer that makes products worth considering – and there is, well, actual reality as represented by 1 billion Android activations and dozens (hundreds?) of companies responsible for the former.

        “If that doesn’t demonstrate superiority (and resiliency) of a platform, I don’t know what else does.”

        First of all, iOS is not a platform. It is an OS that powers 3 very similar devices (iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad), one of which will be deprecated and replaced with another similar device (iWatch). Maybe iOS will be a platform when HealthKit and HomeKit comes out, or when enough people actually start using CarPlay to matter.

        Second, no one claimed that iOS was not superior. Only that Android is a good platform with its own strengths. Incidentally, Google was smart to avoid competing directly with Apple, as A) they are not a hardware company and B) there is no real reason not to get an iPhone for most people. Google created a viable alternative and used it to create crushing market share that is generating them a billion a quarter on app revenues alone (and still more from search and analytics). That is success whether you Apple guys wish to acknowledge it or not. But even if you will not, Apple does, which is why Tim Cook made such a point of attacking Android at WWDC. Notice that he did not attack Windows 8.1/Windows Phone or Blackberry nearly as much if at all!

    4. You know, I was wondering how our resident trolls (aka fandroidtards) were going to respond to this, and lo and behold, our resident troll did.

      Yes… fragmentation is wonderful… for the device maker. They can now differentiate their products.

      For developers and users? Well… who knows? I suspect some positives and some negatives. But I suspect many who settle for Androids don’t care about user friendliness, GUI, etc. because many are so used to it from Windows, that to them, it’s all of a piece. It’s what they are used to, and Android delivers.

  4. The amount of ignorance in both the article and commentators is staggering. First of all, that image is quite simply an amazing display of diversity of Android devices and something to cheer about.

    As a developer I don’t code to 1000s of individual devices, but to APIs. All my apps run on all devices (phones and tablets) with a single Apk. I target 4 screen sizes not 1000s.

    As a consumer, I love the fact that I can pick the device that suits my needs the best rather than select from the extremely limited behind the curve offerings from Apple.

    If you find Apple’s devices matching your requirements, more power to you. But don’t be under any disillusionment that this is a problem for Android developers. There is a fragmentation issue for some Android developers whose software needs specific hardware. No different from iOS developers who can’t target older iPhones that don’t have some sensors.

    Open your minds. It’s okay to stay with a limited device and OS if it serves your needs in other ways (simplistic user interface for example), but doing it out of ignorance in this day and age is plain silly.

  5. You are only partially right…Android devs are developing for few devices only but that does not mean those apps are working great on all other devices…. I can see too much cramped or too much zoomed or too much wastage of display space kind of issues on different phones for different apps. In fact there are many apps that do not support 4.1 which support 4.4 believe me they are one of the top apps like Amazon etc

  6. Ha ha fellas, all I did was accurately depict the meaning and intent of the article. This is in contrast with the editorial, who selectively used quotes to depict precisely the opposite of what the article actually stated.

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