Android is the world’s most popular operating system. But like everything in this world, Android is far from perfect. One of the biggest problems plaguing Android today is fragmentation.
Fragmentation refers to the fact that there are hundreds of different Android builds out there. Each carrier has their own Android build, for example, and each device has its own Android build, and each manufacturer tweaks Android in unique ways to create its own build. Not to mention the difference in screen resolution, processing power, RAM, and other hardware capabilities.
When you look at iOS and the iPhone, on the other hand, there are only a handful of different builds and hardware capabilities available. In simple terms: it’s more difficult to develop apps for Android due to fragmentation than it is to develop apps for the iPhone.
We finally have a good idea of what Android fragmentation looks like. The picture at the top of this article shows approximately how many different Android builds there are, from the most popular version of the Samsung Galaxy S3 in the top left corner of the screen to the niche versions of Android running on only a few thousand devices in the bottom right corner.
It’s getting worse
In 2012, OpenSignal counted 4,000 unique Android devices. In 2013, OpenSignal has counted almost 12,000 so far. That’s a huge increase and some are suggesting that it could be an Android killer.
But you shouldn’t worry
It’s easy to look at the chart above and feel alarmed. But when you mention Android fragmentation to hardcore Android fanboys, they usually don’t start sweating and stammering; instead, they laugh.
Why? Well, consider the following
–There are millions of Windows PCs with countless different hardware arrangements, and that hasn’t stopped Windows from becoming the world’s best gaming platform
–Have you personally been affected by Android fragmentation? Have you ever experienced major problems with an app or been unable to download the app you want? I find that Android fragmentation just isn’t an issue for the vast majority of Android users
-As a commenter on this article succinctly states, “You call it ‘fragmentation.’ I call it choice.”