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Will Android fragmentation get better or worst?

Published on June 3, 2012 by in Research

OpenSignalMaps‘ new Infographic reveals accelerating fragmentation for the Android eco-system.

OpenSignalMaps (a mobile communication research firm) tapped data from over 700,000 devices to produce a visualization of the state of fragmentation in the Android space. With that many devices, designing apps can be a challenge, do would think? As I’ll argue Android’s fissures are not as bad has it initially seems.

Out of the 700,000 sampled there is a staggering 4,000 different devices. This may some like a nightmare for Apple developers who have at the most 7 devices to design an experience for.

However, compounding the plethora of devices in the Android’s universe there is nearly 1,400 devices that only appeared once in the 700,000 sampled.

But at closer analysis, most of the 4,000 devices do not require special design or development considerations. This brings the number of devices that do need particular design and development attention into a manageable number.

OpenSignalMaps seems to see the vast number of different devices more as an opportunity than a challenge. As Fact Company Co Design reports, James Robinson (co-founder and lead developer of OpenSignalMaps) said ” One of the joys of developing for Android is you have no idea who’ll end up using your app,” …  “So the problem–or perhaps opportunity–is getting bigger, but the tools are getting sharper too. I’ve been impressed by Google’s commitment to providing better simulators for devices, all of which are free.”

Because Android is an open-source platform there is no way to know how end-users will use their phone or apps. This ambiguity can create opportunities and developors who choose to capture this growing market.

Things look even better for Android once HTML 5, CSS 3 and responsive design start getting mainstream, and best practices start to be established and implemented.

As Android 4.0 starts to replace older versions Android, the levels of variance in performance and experience between different Android devices should diminish. However, one of the worst and best things about Android- it being open-source, will always have a certain element of fragmentation baked in.

Finally I would be remiss if I don’t mention the role carriers play in widening Android’s fragmentation, but that’s a whole another story for another post.

 

By  – The UX Acrobat and

UX Strategist @ Digital Cunzai

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_niola

About UX Acrobat - Marc Niola

Marc is an expert UX professional with a focus on customer-centered design principles, social media, gamification and psychology. He has developed innovative business solutions for global corporations, SME, agencies, clients and brands.

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