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Shut up about Android fragmentation already

Armando Rodriguez | Aug. 20, 2013
Android's biggest problem is completely blown out of proportion.

A few weeks ago OpenSignal released a report — a big one, with lots of fancy interactive charts and figures.

It said that there are a whole lot of Android phones

47.5 percent of the 682,000 Android phones surveyed were made by Samsung.

All of them running different versions of Android

By OpenSignal's count, eight versions of Android are still in use.

People freaked out

The headlines started pouring out about how Android is doomed because it's too fragmented.

Fanboys started arguing

It's what usually happens when you mention "Android" and "iOS" in the same sentence on the Internet.

But more phones equals more choice

There are hundreds of kinds of Android phones, each with its own set of pros and cons.

And more choice is good

With Android you can choose a phone with a removable battery or a MicroSD card slot, if you want that feature, and you aren't limited to a single screen size. With iOS your choices consist of two screen size options and two noncolor options. Talk about boring.

Ramon Llamas, a research manager at IDC says "Android fragmentation isn't something for consumers to get worried about."

Fragmentation is sometimes the first word you hear when a tech enthusiast describes Android, and the term has come to have a negative connotation—even though it's not necessarily a bad thing.

You can't tell the difference between versions of Android you're running anyway

The experience doesn't change much from one modern version of Android to another, and the best-selling phones all have some sort of skin running on top of the OS that makes it even harder to tell what version you're running, short of digging through the settings.

But it is a problem for developers

Although Ramon Llamas says consumers shouldn't be worried about it, app developers take fragmentation very seriously.

They don't want to make apps for all of the different kinds of Android phones

Smaller developers tend to avoid Android and create for iOS first because they don't have the resources to deal with the many varieties of Android devices.

Your buddy with an iPhone gets all the best apps first while you're like

Remember, it took Vine 6 months to make it to Android. And Twitter owns Vine! Imagine how long the process takes developers that aren't bankrolled by a multi-million-dollar corporation.


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