Android ‘Is The Most Fragmented It Has Ever Been’

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Open Signal says there are 11,868 different Android devices, presenting challenges and benefits to developers

The increasingly fragmented nature of the Android platform is making life difficult for developers, who must optimise their applications for vastly differing specifications, according to Open Signal.

The firm says 682,000 Android devices accessed its application in the last 12 months, of which 11,868 were unique – a massive increase from the 3,997 it recorded in the previous year.

While Samsung smartphones and tablets accounted for 47.5 percent of the total devices, less familiar products to access the Open Signals service included the HTC Supersonic, the Wiko Cink Peax and the cryptically named ‘To be filled by OEM’.

Android fragmentation

AndroidArmyAdding a further layer of complexity is the presence of eight different versions of Android still in use. The most popular are Android 4.1 and 4.2 Jelly Bean, which have a combined share of 37.9 percent, closely followed by various iterations of 2.3 Gingerbread, which is present on 34.1 percent of all devices.

Open Signal says all of these differing screen sizes, performance levels and operating systems is making it extremely challenging and time consuming for Android developers to ensure their application works on as many devices as possible.

In contrast, the less diverse iOS platform offers just a handful of devices with only four different screen sizes. However, unlike Android, iPhone and iPad users are far more restricted in their choice of products.

Open Signal says this fragmentation is a positive thing for consumers who have the freedom to pick a smartphone or tablet that meets their needs and budget. Similarly, fragmentation provides opportunities for developers to reach a much wider audience than they could on other platforms.

Android remains the most popular mobile operating system in the UK with a commanding 56.2 share of the UK smartphone market, while it also claims top spot in the US with a 51.5 percent share.

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