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Android’s Fragmentation ‘Problem’Android’s Fragmentation ‘Problem’

1:30 PM It’s only a problem if developers say it is

Sarah Thomas

July 13, 2010

2 Min Read
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

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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