Thursday, September 5, 2013

Android's Growing Fragmentation - An Insight

Last year in June, I posted this article talking about the huge levels of fragmentation in the Android world. However, that seems to have been just the beginning...

The number of devices were around 3997. Any guesses on how many this year? a whopping 11,868 as per the report by OpenSignal.

What was seen as a growing bane for developers has also turned out to be an advantage. OpenSignal summarizes the growing advantage aptly:

              "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. It may be tricky to do, but the potential reward definitely makes it worthwhile. For consumers, extreme fragmentation means that they can get exactly the phone they want – big or small, cheap or expensive, with any number of different feature combinations."

Out of 682,000 devices that were surveyed, Samsung had a share of 47.5% making it clear as to who is in the lead. There are many unheard of devices probably in the local markets of the various countries. And not surprisingly, there are still 8 versions of android in active use. We know many of th
e lower end phones are available in older versions without any upgrade path to the latest versions. 

Why, lower end phones? Even Samsung Galaxy S does not allow for an upgrade to ICS or Jellybean!!  Interestingly, a mere 37.9% are on Jelly Bean. So, the "upgrade to the latest version" mania is not for the Android market, it looks like. :)

Some graphics form the report convey a lot about the level of fragmentation and the market share. The device fragmentation is shown here:

It is far more fragmented earlier and we should watch and see where this goes and surely lead to some consolidation !! 

The brand fragmentation is another insightful graphic:

All this makes the market an exciting place to be in - for all types of developers, testers and buyers of mobile phones as well. There is so much choice and smartphones are now in the reach of a larger customer base - it is no more 'exclusive' stuff for a smaller percentage of a privileged few!! 

While, all this is happening in the Android world, the latest version of Android being named "Kitkat" makes me wonder if Android is going to "Take a Break" and pave the way for Microsoft and Nokia?!! 

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