Android fragmentation predicted to squeeze out independent developers

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
The plethora of distinct mobile device models on the market, driven largely by the popularity of Google's Android platform, is making it more difficult for independent software developers to reach a wide audience, new research confirms.

Flurry


In a post to the official Flurry Blog, Dr. Mary Ellen Gordon, PhD, used stats from the mobile analytics firm to show how difficult it can be for developers to offer compatibility. Based on the data, if a developer wanted to have their application available to 80 percent of the smartphone market, the software would need to be compatible with 156 different device models.

Of course this issue, known as "fragmentation," is largely driven by Google's Android platform, a mobile operating system that appears on a number of devices from a variety of hardware makers, many of which lock their handsets and prevent users from upgrading to the latest version. And some companies, such as Amazon, have forked the Android open-source platform to make their own unique operating system, further complicating matter.

Because of this, Gordon said indie developers may be becoming an "endangered species," and she suggested the market for app development could be "ripe for consolidation."

"We expect a future in which app developers are less frequently individuals with a creative idea and a laptop, and more frequently companies designed to develop, produce and distribute apps at scale," Gordon said.

Flurry


Flurry's data shows that the greatest chance of success for independent developers will likely come from Apple's iOS platform, which allows applications to reach the widest range of users while developing for a relatively small number of hardware variations.

In addition, iOS users average more app sessions per active device than devices running competing platforms, like Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone.

"This further clarifies why developer support for iOS is disproportionate to iOS's share of the installed device space," Gordon said. "Developers can reach more active devices by developing for a smaller number of device models on iOS and they can also capture the attention of very active users."

Apple's lead among active app use also remains when the data is broken down based on device manufacturers. In this measurement, Amazon device users come in a a close second in terms of application use, while Samsung takes third.

As handset makers are expanding their product lines to provide customers with more options, Gordon expects that it will only become more difficult for developers to optimize, test and support their applications.

"And yet doing exactly that is likely to be increasingly important for app developers, given the market for apps is also becoming more crowded and competitive, making negative user experiences more damaging," she said.
«134

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 74
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,388member
    This is one huge reason why Android is not being accepted into mainstream businesses. Restaurants, Airlines, Government, Corporate, etc... almost all using iOS. Why? It's consistent.

    I'm sure the Android fanboys will once again go into denial and say the tired "Well, at least Android is 'open'" nonsense.

    Android is a huge, fragmented mess.
  • Reply 2 of 74
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member


    An article about app development, written by a major in Political Science.  That makes sense.


     


    In reality, there's only a handful of major display sizes and device types to target.


     


    Same as with iOS, most Android apps work with even a fairly old OS version, since the APIs most apps need were already in there years ago.  


     


    Click bait.

  • Reply 3 of 74
    negafoxnegafox Posts: 480member


    I always get confused by people worried about fragmentation. For the love of God, Mac and PC developers have long dealt with variety of hardware configurations and display resolutions.

  • Reply 4 of 74
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 809member
    kdarling wrote: »
    An article about app development, written by a major in Political Science.  That makes sense.

    In reality, there's only a handful of major display sizes and device types to target.

    Same as with iOS, most Android apps work with even a fairly old OS version, since the APIs most apps need were already in there years ago.  

    Click bait.

    There have been quite a few major developers who have made the same charges. There are a multitude of screen resolutions and new sizes every two months. That's just the ones getting pushed. If the new apps will work anyway why update the OS? Are you saying that none of features implemented in the last two and a half years should be used in the apps?
  • Reply 5 of 74
    bigmac2bigmac2 Posts: 637member
    Android tablets fragmentation is even sadder, there is no standard for resolution, dimension and aspect ratio.
  • Reply 6 of 74
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member


    Especially as a gamer, I feel sad when "safe"/"conservative" development is the norm. Little companies doing crazy things are a lot of fun!


     


    The "safe" copycatting on every platform is bad enough. Don't make the lack of innovation any worse!

  • Reply 7 of 74
    negafox wrote: »
    I always get confused by people worried about fragmentation. For the love of God, Mac and PC developers have long dealt with variety of hardware configurations and display resolutions.
    Phones and tablets are not PC's. There are fundamental differences in the underlying architectures that make this a minor issue for PC's while being much more severe in mobile devices.

    Do you want to see your 32GB tablet only have 16GB free because of the bloated OS that can run on any hardware no matter the difference?
  • Reply 8 of 74
    allenbfallenbf Posts: 993member


    I honestly believe that Google purchased Moto for 2 reasons: 1, to stave off Samsung's meteoric rise in the Android world to some degree, as has been rumored.  And 2, to produce a line of phones (like Nexus) that will partially solve the fragmentation problem.  The Nexus phones are the first to receive Android updates and the line isn't as fragmented as phones produced by other manufacturers.


     


    Having said that, it's going to be very interesting to see how Android plays out over the next few years.  There's no doubt that fragmentation is frustrating for developers.  My money is on Google reining in Android, and Samsung/others either complying or forking the OS like Amazon has already done.  Talk about fragmentation if that happens!

  • Reply 9 of 74
    kdarling wrote: »
    An article about app development, written by a major in Political Science.  That makes sense.

    In reality, there's only a handful of major display sizes and device types to target.

    Same as with iOS, most Android apps work with even a fairly old OS version, since the APIs most apps need were already in there years ago.  

    Click bait.
    Ad hominem? Implying they are wrong because of their degree? Sad.

    There are a lot more than you claim. Besides all the different screen resolutions you have devices with different SoC's, GPU's, different versions of BT, different implementations for USB, different versions of Android, Touchwiz vs Sense vs......

    If I want to write a basic App it's easy to target all devices. But what developer wants to limit what they can do to the lowest common denominator?

    Android is a fragmented mess regardless of what the fanboys try to claim.
  • Reply 10 of 74
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by genovelle View Post



    There have been quite a few major developers who have made the same charges.


     


    Not really.  It's the junior developers or ones new to screen independence that have the problem.


     


    Most figure it out, such as Rovio, who eneded up doing a great job of Angry Birds running on virtually every new and old Android device.  It just takes the right mindset... one which btw, Apple also needs to break out of their display resolution cage.


     


    Quote:


     There are a multitude of screen resolutions and new sizes every two months. 



     


    Again, not really.  They're just variations on a theme.  Well written apps work just fine and fill the display, even if the display is a bit different.   


     


    This is unlike most iOS apps, where the extra iPhone 5 display space is still not being addressed.


     


    Quote:


    That's just the ones getting pushed. If the new apps will work anyway why update the OS? Are you saying that none of features implemented in the last two and a half years should be used in the apps?



     


    No, I'm saying that, same as with iOS, the overwhelming majority of apps don't require the latest APIs.


     


    Android started out with core features such as third party multitasking and voice I/O long ago.  Much of its updates have been more about visuals and speed, than required APIs.

  • Reply 11 of 74

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post





    There are a lot more than you claim. Besides all the different screen resolutions you have devices with different SoC's, GPU's, different versions of BT, different implementations for USB, different versions of Android, Touchwiz vs Sense vs......



    If I want to write a basic App it's easy to target all devices. But what developer wants to limit what they can do to the lowest common denominator?



    Android is a fragmented mess regardless of what the fanboys try to claim.


    How many different screen resolutions, SoC's, GPU's, are there for iOS devices currently? How many iOS devices have front facing cameras? How many are GPS capable?

  • Reply 12 of 74
    chiachia Posts: 692member


    No fragmentation in Android?


     


    Consider this, straight from the horse's mouth:


     


    Supporting Multiple Screens


     




    Although the system performs scaling and resizing to make your application work on different screens, you should make the effort to optimize your application for different screen sizes and densities. In doing so, you maximize the user experience for all devices



    also:


     




    be aware that Android 3.2 has introduced new APIs that allow you to more precisely control the layout resources your application uses for different screen sizes.



     


    but these APIs are not available to the majority of Android devices, yes, even as of now, most Android Devices are running 2.6.3 or below:


    again, straight from the horse's mouth:


     


    Current Distribution of Android Devices Accessing Google Play


     


     


    Consider the irony of my experience:


    I have an iPhone 3GS purchased in Nov 2009, it shipped with iOS 3 but was officially upgraded to the current iOS 6.1.2.


     


    I purchased a Samsung Galaxy Y in April 2012, it was officially stuck on the already obsolete Gingerbread.


     


    The Galaxy Y was replaced with a Sony Experia Tipo in June 2012.  That came with 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.


    Sony have just announced they won't be producing an official upgrade for the Tipo to 4.2 Jelly Bean.


     


    It's amazing that a four year old phone can be kept more easily up to date than a phone less than a year old.

  • Reply 13 of 74
    chiachia Posts: 692member


    Originally Posted by KDarling View Post


    No, I'm saying that, same as with iOS, the overwhelming majority of apps don't require the latest APIs.



     


    which will lead to most developers not bothering to support new features offered by more recent Android versions and APIs, and thus most android manufacturers not bothering with the extra complexity of dealing with a more recent Android version.


     


    This may go some way to explaining why the bulk of Android devices are 2.6.3 or below.


     


    In contrast, my four year old iPhone 3GS with its current iOS can take advantage of the latest programmes with the latest APIs.

  • Reply 14 of 74

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ChiA View Post


    No fragmentation in Android?


     


    Consider this, straight from the horse's mouth:


     


    Supporting Multiple Screens


     


    also:


     


     


    but these APIs are not available to the majority of Android devices, yes, even as of now, most Android Devices are running 2.6.3 or below:


    again, straight from the horse's mouth:


     


    Current Distribution of Android Devices Accessing Google Play


     


     


    Consider the irony of my experience:


    I have an iPhone 3GS purchased in Nov 2009, it shipped with iOS 3 but was officially upgraded to the current iOS 6.1.2.


     


    I purchased a Samsung Galaxy Y in April 2012, it was officially stuck on the already obsolete Gingerbread.


     


    The Galaxy Y was replaced with a Sony Experia Tipo in June 2012.  That came with 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.


    Sony have just announced they won't be producing an official upgrade for the Tipo to 4.2 Jelly Bean.


     


    It's amazing that a four year old phone can be kept more easily up to date than a phone less than a year old.



    iPhone 3G S 16GB - £440


    Galaxy Y - £120


    Xperia Tipo - £90


     


    Budget phones not supported to the same standard as a premium phone that cost 4x as much SHOCKER!!! 


     


    Film at 11.

  • Reply 15 of 74
    chiachia Posts: 692member




    Originally Posted by stike vomit View Post


    iPhone 3G S 16GB - £440


    Galaxy Y - £120


    Xperia Tipo - £90


     


    Budget phones not supported to the same standard as a premium phone that cost 4x as much SHOCKER!!! 


     


    Film at 11.



     


    stike vomit thinks big letters and shouting will make him right.  SHOCKER!


     


     


    BUDGET PHONES GET UPDATES TOO!*  SHOCKER!


    *though much less likely from Samsung or Sony


     


     


    NOKIA Asha 203 SIM-FREE £50


    It was launched as a budget phone in 2012 yet Nokia has already released several software updates


     


    Support for your Nokia Asha 203


     


    Credit where credit is due, Apple and Nokia believe in strong after-sales support.

  • Reply 16 of 74


    ipad 1/2 - 9'7" screen - 1,024 × 768 pixels at 132 ppi

    ipad 3/4 - 9'7" screen - 2,048 × 1,536 pixels at 264 ppi

    ipad mini - 7.9" screen - 1,024 × 768 pixels at 163 ppi

     


    fragmentation?

     

  • Reply 17 of 74
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member


    It looks like this is a trend that will rise on both platforms. Big companies can churn games out and see what sticks. EA has released over 1,000 games for iOS and don't care if only a small percentage make a splash. Small companies can't do that and often have to bet the farm on their first app. It's also much harder to get exposure and into the all-important top 50 apps if you're not a big brand.


     


    Let's hope that Apple continues to push indie apps like Paper and The Room. 

  • Reply 18 of 74
    ipad 1/2 - 9'7" screen - 1,024 × 768 pixels at 132 ppi

    ipad 3/4 - 9'7" screen - 2,048 × 1,536 pixels at 264 ppi

    ipad mini - 7.9" screen - 1,024 × 768 pixels at 163 ppi

     
    fragmentation?

     

    Ah yes, avoiding the iPhone and iPod Touch there I see. How convenient.

    Tell me, how many of those iPad 1s are running the latest version of iOS?
  • Reply 19 of 74
    chia wrote: »

    Credit where credit is due, Apple and Nokia believe in strong after-sales support.

    Tell that to the iPad 1 owners. Or the poor bastards who bought Nokia WP7 phones expecting an update to WP8.
  • Reply 20 of 74
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Tell that to the iPad 1 owners. Or the poor bastards who bought Nokia WP7 phones expecting an update to WP8.

    Before you make a fool of yourself, you might want to check the facts.

    iPad 1 was introduced in 2010 with iPhone OS 3.2. It was upgradeable for 2 years to iOS 5.1.1. So two years and two full versions of upgrades.

    In contrast, the majority of Android devices NEVER see an upgrade (or, at best, perhaps a point upgrade). That's why 50% of Android devices are still running a 2 year old version of the OS.
Sign In or Register to comment.