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More on Android Fragmentation, 86% of Developers Think It’s a Problem

The chart you are staring at above displays the results of a survey that asked 250 “working” developers if they thought fragmentation on Android was a problem.  As you can see, 86% of them said that it was in some form a problem with 74% saying it is definitely something they worry about.  We’ve heard the cries of tech pundits who have suggested all along that fragmentation was evil, even while some of the bigger app developers (like Rovio) would say otherwise, so in a way, this should make a lot of talking heads feel special today.

On a related note though, we know that Google is already working to eliminate mass fragmentation by tightening up their Android policies, making it harder for manufacturers to simply release anything they please without a plan to stay current. We should also point out that 71% of those who responded to the survey said they were developing for Android with just 61% giving the thumbs up to iOS.  Obviously fragmentation isn’t causing too much harm.

Via:  Fortune

  • Lionel Y.

    maybe for devs but not for consumers

    • Sooby96

      Would you rather not have a mobile phone? That’s how we have any of todays technology. We had to evolve to get where we are to say no is saying evolution doesn’t exist. I own both a iPad 2 and a droid x I don’t expect either one to last forever it doesn’t make sense. The computer I had wouldn’t run certain applications so I upgraded. That’s how it all works. Everything you see on earth will be obsolete or a better version of. Its just time. People complain they want an android phone but don’t want to pay premium prices for a higher end phone so in the long run they made it more affordable for everyone to have a better phone than a regular talk and text only phone.

      • Lionel Y.

        if the model was so bad, people would buy iphones and be done with it.
        this is a false debate. am I worried about getting updates? if yes, I shall select phone I’m quite sure will get updates. phones such as the nexus S, or the nexus 1.
        when you buy a blur, or htc sense phone, you pay money for the “present” experience the phone gives you. if you ask regular people that’s what they will tell you. they don’t buy phones, with expectations towards updates, because they are not tech literate like you and I.
        this debate is stupid, and it must be toned down. don’t buy non stock android devices if you care about getting updates right when google release them, thats it.

  • Sooby96

    One thing no one has ever been able to explain to me about this situation is thats the standard evolution of all things electronic. How many people played Crysis when it come out. Oh my 3 year old POS HP won’t play it. Thats how it works natural progression of the world. No one complains about gaming or apps for computers and thats what most of us are carrying around now.

  • Anonymous

    I think the entire survey is flawed. It’s hard to get a representative sample from just 250 developers, not to mention there’re no details on *how* the survey was conducted. The questions could’ve been leading, the devs inexperienced, etc.

    When companies like Rovio, TweetDeck, Evernote, and others say specifically that developing for Android is both easy and a joy, it makes me wonder what’s going on with all of these other devs.

    I’m an Android developer, and developing for a target version of the OS is pretty easy. Never had any issues with an app working across multiple devices (especially those running 2.0 or later). The only major issue I’ve run into thus far is that the HTC Bluetooth stack seems to have some problems. Pretty sure those can be blamed on Sense. Other devs have worked around this without a problem though, so again–I don’t understand the fragmentation argument.

    Something smells fishy here…

    • Anonymous

      250 is actually a large enough sample, provided they worked to limit the bias in sampling (but we don’t know this)

      The survey itself should be ignored until we know the methodology, I agree. Just wanted to clarify that it’s not the sample size that’s necessarily the issue.

  • Anonymous

    As a regular consumer I’m loving my Thunderbolt and before that the original Droid so I have to ask…..what is fragmentation and is it effecting me? Is it a virus that I don’t know about? Is it something that is making my phone not work as it should because I love the TBolt a loved my other Droid. Fragmentation – is it a visible thing, tangible, a process, hardware/software????? Do I need to worry about this – should I get an anti-fragmentation app or something???

    • http://profiles.google.com/jdellis1 Jonathan Ellis

      Fragmentation is having many different versions of Android currently out and still in use. If I develop with the latest greatest android sdk 2.3 without older versions of android in mind it may not work on lets say a G1 (yes people still have those)

      • Anonymous

        If you develop an app using the latest SDK for iOS your app will not work on a large chunk of devices either (remember, multitasking, etc are not universal, even on devices running the “current” os) Android (and iOS) have built in methods for dealing with differing API levels. The only real issue is when you try going all the way back to 1.5.

        2.7% of phones are still running on 1.5 (the G1 is in there). So if you’re JUST starting app development, unless you KNOW your target market has a high number of G1’s, it’s safe to ignore developing the app for that API level, at least until you have it working on the others.

        The problem is apps that try using native code instead of the SDK. ON high end games, the NDK has advantages, but more developers use it than they really require it.

      • Anonymous

        If you develop an app using the latest SDK for iOS your app will not work on a large chunk of devices either (remember, multitasking, etc are not universal, even on devices running the “current” os) Android (and iOS) have built in methods for dealing with differing API levels. The only real issue is when you try going all the way back to 1.5.

        2.7% of phones are still running on 1.5 (the G1 is in there). So if you’re JUST starting app development, unless you KNOW your target market has a high number of G1’s, it’s safe to ignore developing the app for that API level, at least until you have it working on the others.

        The problem is apps that try using native code instead of the SDK. ON high end games, the NDK has advantages, but more developers use it than they really require it.

    • Michael

      It means, if you want a really reliable and stable phone, get an iPhone.

  • http://www.myimportparts.com 2010 Acura TL parts

    Well I think Its funny that this story drops after google already openly admitted there was an issue and is doing things to try and change it…Nice post..Thanks for posting

  • http://www.zoominfo.com/people/Fanjul_Pepe_99130311.aspx Pepe Fenjul Jr.

    the cries of tech pundits who have suggested all along that fragmentation was evil, even while some of the bigger app developers (like Rovio) would say.

  • http://twitter.com/panther90 panther52

    Problem? What problem? This is the kind of thing you would kill for in any business. A market so saturated with your product that your “problem” is fragmentation.

  • http://beez1717.myopenid.com/ beez1717

    It is going to always be a problem until they go and fix the issue once and for all and google slaps the companies and carriers for letting it happen. They should then unify OS and essentially screw over (pardon my french) those that don’t comply with: Google choosing when to upgrade the phones, that stuff like Sense Blur better conform to Google’s standards OR ELSE (so it won’t break the interface just from google upgrading the OS), and that if things do break then you’d BETTER fix the issues or ELSE.

    That’s what google has to do to fix fragmentation and still keep the innovation.

  • http://jameswilliams.be/blog James Williams

    I think it also depends on where the developer came from. If they started as an iOS developer and is now doing Android, their answers might be different from someone with the inverse path. I am one of those Android -> iOS people and I completely hated iOS. Objective-C is the only language on the face of the Earth that makes Java look incredibly terse.

    Fragmentation can be a problem but it is somewhat easy to do things to save yourself some pain, like using dp instead of absolute pixels, using RelativeLayout instead of FrameLayout and the like.

  • Unexpected62

    These polls really need a “not sure” or something option… So many times there’s no answer for a poll. Or even with like a poll about “How is your thunderbolt battery life?” make an option for “I don’t have one!”

    • siLver

      If you don’t have a thunderbolt, then just don’t take part in the poll?

  • http://davesdroid.blogspot.com NadTwist

    As a web developer, I find this equal to having to make sure my sites work across several versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.

    None of the browsers seem to adhere to the same standards and ultimately somebody on some version will complain about something.

    I feel for the Android devs…. it must be frustrating.

    • http://twitter.com/IFragU Tom Clemente

      I feel your pain. I hate it when i visit a website that requires me to use internet explorer or something like that. when i write a website, i check for compatibility.

      • http://davesdroid.blogspot.com NadTwist

        Thanks Tom. I do my best to test all the major browsers…. and of course now to make sure things display correctly on my DroidX and XOOM.

        It never ends. :p

  • Anonymous

    I think the better question would have been is it an ANNOYANCE rather than a problem.

  • John

    Love how that chart adds up to 101%

    hah.

  • Anonymous

    I think google just needs to clean up. Keep your source code. Fine. A little less but still rooting, fine.
    Clean the app market…half of the apps are complete…and i love android but….complete garbage…who needs 50000 puzzle games?
    Third….go tell amazon to screw, or buy amazons app store and music so basically you can just integrate it or disintegrate it and no more fragmentation from that….no more third parties like that…it makes your app store and stuff hard to look at…etc…

    Last…if you want…unify hardware….and possibly minimize skinning….or make it an option..
    Such as on the acer liquid metal…you can choose acer’s skin or google vanilla…

    I love sense but hate motoblur….maybe i want a motorola device…i should be able to turn it off..

    Finally just entice developers a little more with something, and improve little by little the web app store or make a downloadable one…

    FINALLY 2ND…BUY DOUBLETWIST….THEY HAVE A SORT OF GOOD MULTIMEDIA PLAYER…THATS AN APP FOR THE COMPUTER…NOT WEB….NOT EVERYTHING CAN BE WEB…PLEASE…

  • Jroc869

    Its funny that this story drops after google already openly admitted there was an issue and is doing things to try and change it.

  • Anonymous

    Fragmentation like Amazon creating it’s own Android market and platform which has been reported. And other companies asking for Googles source code that is not being shared with everybody on the earth.

    Google needs to keep thier code private and not have alll of this “Fragmentation stuff going on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/misaghz Misagh Zayyeni

    i develop for android myself…and i dont see the big deal here….

    if you use the API, it doesnt matter which device your going to use the app…

    there are certain small bugs, sure
    but its not a problem

    • Anonymous

      any good apps i should buy from you?

      • Custom Colonel

        LOL, notice how he hasn’t responded…he knows his apps are FC city!

  • LinuxLover

    Fragmentation comes in 2 forms on Android devices. First, there is the MotoBlah, and nonSense skin type, then there is the hardware end, where one manufacturer uses OMAP, another Snapdragon, another Tegra 2… This means apps must be optimized for each and that amount of work simply costs developers time and money. The iPhone is much simpler to write for because everyone pretty much has the same OS for phones stretching back 2 years old, and hardware is mostly singular. There are advances, as in when the 3GS introduced graphics processing and such, but some of that is progress.

    Now, there is even more fragmentation, with Google Market, Amazon app store… It’s getting worse. Will you need to get some apps from Amazon, and some from Google, and even others somewhere else? It’s insanity.

    Let’s make something clear. I’m not an iPhone fan and hating on Android. Quite the contrary. I’m rooting for Android to do well in the market. However, the house needs cleaning, and only Google can make it happen.

    • Anonymous

      The only place the Hardware is an issue is if the developer is using the NDK instead of the SDK. If an app is released using only the SDK the processor WILL NOT MATTER. Now, for high end games, the NDK is practically a requirement. But far more devs are trying to develop using then NDK when the SDK would work fine for them because it’s the type of development they’re used to.

      With 3.0 (and whatever “I” is) things like hardware acceleration will now be part of the SDK, meaning even fewer apps will have to rely on the NDK.

    • Anonymous

      The only place the Hardware is an issue is if the developer is using the NDK instead of the SDK. If an app is released using only the SDK the processor WILL NOT MATTER. Now, for high end games, the NDK is practically a requirement. But far more devs are trying to develop using then NDK when the SDK would work fine for them because it’s the type of development they’re used to.

      With 3.0 (and whatever “I” is) things like hardware acceleration will now be part of the SDK, meaning even fewer apps will have to rely on the NDK.

  • Anonymous

    4/5 of the answers are essentially saying the same thing (it is a problem) to varying degrees. Only one answer is counter to this. Statistically speaking, it’s to be expected that a majority of responses would be “It’s a problem” since 80% of the possible choices said this. It’s like if I made a poll that asked: How are you feeling? and gave you four choices 1) GREAT! 2)Slightly unwell, 3) moderately unwell, 4)I’m going to die. Most of my respondents would say they were feeling unwell, even if a good chunk of them were actually feeling ok. (I didn’t include a “meh” option).

    I’m not arguing that fragmentation isn’t an issue, it is. But this survey question, especially if it is the ONLY question, is kinda pointless as it stands. There are too many variables.

    1) How did they choose the developers? was it opt in, random, or did they contact the top 250?
    2) How did responses change depending on the developer? Someone who develops exclusively for Android will have a different opinion than someone who is porting their apps from iOS
    3) What number of respondents were game developers, or developers who used the NDK instead of the SDK? If they were trying to make Native (not Dalvik) apps like a lot of games, Software OS won’t have as big of an impact as Hardware, so even if EVERY phone were on Gingerbread their fragmentation issue would still be a “huge” problem, while SDK app developers would be happy. Are their answers considered the same with this survey?
    4) Is the fragmentation causing these developers to not actively develop for the platform? or is it something that they consider very important, but they’ll work with until Google fixes it (like iOS devs do with the notification/multitasking system)

    Again, I’m not saying fragmentation isn’t an issue, but reports like this are only useful if we know the context behind them. Sure 87% is a nice big number, and will get them a lot of clicks, but is it really telling us anything about the issue, or are we just getting a broad generalization that helps no one in the end?

    Most of these sites only offer the full report for hundreds (or thousands) of dollars behind a paywall. I’m willing to bet that most of these articles only go off what they can gleam in the press release (including at sites like CNN).

  • http://www.facebook.com/mobrienjr Michael OBrien

    The issue is not with google, the issue is with the phone manufactures and carriers. Seriously the samsung fascinate has not received 2.2 yet but it was released after 2.2 was out. Then the samsung devices that did receive the 2.2 update had to go through the samsung kies system to do it…So glad that I have the OG still and wifey deals with the samsung

    • Honeycomb

      It’s both. . . Google needs to make sure that OEMs stop implementing software in ways that break comparability so apps work properly on all devices. . . and OEMs need to update quicker.

      • http://beez1717.myopenid.com/ beez1717

        Yes, this HAS to happen. I’ve said it before but Google has to say “We pick when to upgrade, not you OEMs, and if things break then you have to upgrade ASAP.

    • Anonymous

      What’s really sad is that a phone like the xeperia is being sold at best buy for a dollar right now and it runs on 1.6 doughnut… but they said that the phone will be upgraded to gingerbread by the end of q2… so it looks like some companies are getting the message, to bad samsung doesn’t care.

  • Anonymous

    So it’s a problem, but not a catastrophe. Something that needs to be addressed, but nothing that will keep Android from moving forward in the near term. So nothing to get crazy about right? Wait I forgot I’m on the Internet…

  • Anonymous

    This question is fragmented….it should be either a yes or no

    • Wadeivy

      Exactly. 4/5 of the question = 80% problem probability…

      6% above 80% = very clearly we need more it’s not a problem.

      “I don’t care because I have root and roms”
      “I don’t care because I buy high end phones”
      “I don’t care because I choose manufacturers and Wireless providers who update their platforms”

      Suck it

  • Mr.Joe

    People are REALLY over reacting at this whole fragmentation issue. Pretty much every android phone is on 2.x and that’s perfectly fine.

    Plz stop over reacting at something that isn’t nothing.

    • Honeycomb

      The real problem isn’t really the version. That’s more about security than anything. The real problem is the fact that an app will work on one device and not another and this is due to the OEMs adding UI & other “enhancements” however they please which Google is cracking down on, justifiably so.

      • Anonymous

        YEs, but don’t forget about the real Fragmentation is with Amazon creating it’s own Android Market and developing their own Android platform. That’s the killer.

  • Rizzidy

    It’s obviously a large problem. I’m afraid that after everyone’s 2-year contracts start to expire there will be a mass exodus to the iPhone.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, just like in Europe where the iPhone is on every carrier and a far lower percentage of people are on contract, right?

      • Calculatorwatch

        The US is not Europe. We are much more easily brainwashed by pretty white ad campaigns.

        • Anonymous

          If America is so dumb, who’s stopping you from moving to your beloved Europe?

          • Anonymous

            I didn’t know that you weren’t allowed to say anything bad about the country you are living in. I could have sworn free speech was one of the founding principles of the United States.

        • Anonymous

          Australia’s the same but it only because 1. we have the shit android phones 2. theres no ads for android = no knowledge of existence

    • AppleFUD

      Keep the dream alive brother!

    • Anonymous

      No, I don”t think that’s the issue yet, it’s companies like Amazon that are creating it’s own Android Market and thier own Android platform.

      Now you really have a fragmentation of who to develop for and whats hot. If Amazon moves into the tablet space but chooses to develop thier own Android which ahs been reported

      • Shindo107

        the only thing different about the amazon market is marketing…the devs are still developing for android, just delivering their content to the end user via a different method. and one that apparently seems to be working.

        thanks for reminding me to check the free app of the day

        • Anonymous

          No worries, I think that a cool idea “Free App of the Day” :)

        • Anonymous

          No worries, I think that a cool idea “Free App of the Day” :)

        • Anonymous

          I’ve found this link http://tehranishop.com/about.html and want to
          share it with you

  • http://twitter.com/hpizzy Hiral Patel

    Average user has no clue what OS they have let alone which build….lol

    • Jawshua

      Yeah, I would say besides people come here, they don’t know. But some times that’s good because you don’t get pissed off when you wait years for a new build.

      • Anonymous

        Sometimes ignorance is bliss then…

  • Anonymous

    Cue iOS fanboys.

    • http://twitter.com/jbernard703 Jeff Bernard

      We don’t have anything to say. We were told there was no fragmentation on Android.

      • jason w.s.

        lol, so funny….because its so true :-P

      • jason w.s.

        lol, so funny….because its so true :-P

  • Anonymous

    The 14% who say it’s not a problem must work for Motorola. “We can Blur anything!”

  • Stephen D

    “isn’t causing too much arm.” I think you mean harm, please fix.

    And yes, fragmentation IS a problem. I really hope Google cracks down on it.

    • Jawshua

      Oooh the typo police on your case, the world would not turn until that was pointed out because until that,I just couldn’t figure out what he meant!

  • goblueboy

    “We should also point out that 71% of those who responded to the survey said they were developing for Android with just 61% giving the thumbs up to iOS. Obviously fragmentation isn’t causing too much arm.”

    how about the devs that didn’t start out developing for iOS?

    • http://twitter.com/jbernard703 Jeff Bernard

      I am wondering what the definition of “dev” is. Is the guy who makes the 25 pics of hot chicks where the boobs move a “dev”? Is the fart app guy a “dev”? What about the guys who make apps that only take you to a webpage, are they “devs”? The Android market is filled with amateur devs who learned java last weekend and nobody really cares what they think. This survey only has merits if you question devs who make apps that people will actually pay for. Speaking of paying for apps, when anyone gets a second they should Google App Store revenue and then Android Market revenue. Now those are interesting numbers :)