Android’s Fragmentation ‘Problem’

1:30 PM -- Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)’s Android platform has gotten nearly as much attention for its potential to fragment the mobile market as it has for its bevy of new handsets and capabilities. Fragmentation takes on a lot of definitions, but it remains a myth unless the thousands of developers building for Android say it’s so.

The term was born from having (for now) 145-plus Android form factors, including smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes, and cars; five versions of the operating system; several different user interfaces and hardware; and carrier-specific modifications.

The proliferation of Android is great news for Google, but the problem, as defined by the open-community project, AndroidFragmentation.com, is that Android apps don’t run on all devices as a result, leading to higher development costs, decreased reach, and higher customer-care expenditures.

While Google’s own graphics (below) illustrate the platform’s fragmentation, the software giant has been dismissive of the issue. Google's Android compatibility program manager, Dan Morrill, called this f-word a myth and said that the press merely decided it was a problem Android would have. (See Android Gains Apps Developer Love.)

"Because it means everything, it actually means nothing, so the term is useless," he blogged. "Stories on 'fragmentation' are dramatic and they drive traffic to pundits' blogs, but they have little to do with reality. 'Fragmentation' is a bogeyman, a red herring, a story you tell to frighten junior developers. Yawn."

Rather than fall victim to the red herring, we’d like to hear from developers. After all, you are the ones that should fear the bogeyman the most if it is, in fact, real.

Is fragmentation on Android a real problem or a real yawn?

Email me at [email protected] or leave your thoughts in the comments below. Light Reading Mobile will report more on the issue soon.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:30:10 PM
re: Android’s Fragmentation ‘Problem’

I am also curious how effective those companies that promise the "write once, read everywhere" ideal are. There are quite a few that say they can do this, but if it were that easy, fragmentation wouldn't be in discussion at all.

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