News Flash: Google Has Done NOTHING About Android Fragmentation in 2011!

News Flash: Google Has Done NOTHING About Android Fragmentation in 2011!

Over at Android Central there was a reminder of the stark reality facing Android users: the Blackberry PlayBook has a newer version of Android than 81% of all users! As noted there:

It’s running a newer version of Android than some 80 percent of you guys out there. When last we looked, some 18.6 percent of Android devices were running Android 2.3.x. (Honeycomb devices made up less than 1 percent on top of that.)

And RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook? Why, it’s running Android 2.3.3, while some 59 percent of you out there are still officially stuck on Froyo, and another 18 percent are on Eclair.

In the comments are some notes about fragmentation and why the numbers matter/don’t matter and a number of things that read like this:

maybe when _____ comes they will start keeping devices in lock step.

News Flash: Google Has Done NOTHING About Android Fragmentation in 2011!

The image above comes from Google’s developer site and shows the history of the Android platforms this year. If you look at the center stripe – which is Android 2.2 ‘Froyo’, you will see that is DOESN’T CHANGE AT ALL! It started the year at just over 50%, and after the mid-year point is at 59%. If you look back at this time last year, you will see something – Froyo had quickly grown to 50% by August! Which meant that during the summer of last year people were saying

maybe now with Froyo they will start keeping devices in lock step.

Of course, we now know THAT hasn’t happened. Instead, as new devices arrive some have 2.2, others have a variant of 2.3, and very few have the 3.0 tablet OS. The stability of Froyo pretty much means that GingerBread (2.3x) and Eclair (2.1) are trading market share – and there has been NO CHANGE in the overall state of fragmentation. Worse still, although it is widely accepted that every Android tablet to date has been a failure in terms of market penetration, the fact that the majority have Android 2.2 Froyo rather than an actual Tablet OS makes it even worse – particularly for 7″ tablets!

What does this mean?

In spite of numerous warnings about the impact of fragmentation on software development – and the realization of those warnings as survey after survey shows that people simply DON’T buy Android software, and also that developers are increasingly flocking back to iOS from Android – Google has done nothing about fragmentation. It is as bad – or worse, than it has ever been. And given the recent survey that showed user satisfaction for Android lagging FAR behind iOS and even behind Windows Phone 7 … it seems like while sales continue to rise, people are less and less satisfied with the Android experience – and tired of looking at a friend’s phone and saying ‘why doesn’t my one-month old phone have the same features as her six-month old phone’?

What do you think? Is growing user dissatisfaction and continued fragmentation going to become a problem and slow down Android growth?

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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!

1 Comment on "News Flash: Google Has Done NOTHING About Android Fragmentation in 2011!"

  1. Fragmentation is bad, and it also seems to involve the custom UI Skinning that occurs with various vendors.

    Custom skins are nice, but they tend to delay updates to the latest Android OS. This exacerbates fragmentation. However, for a lot of manufacturers, a custom skin is what helps differentiate its products from those of other manufacturers with which it is competing.

    The open nature of the platform allows this kind of thing to happen, but in my opinion, this is also what may eventually kill it off. Can you imagine what would happen if RIM actually came out with an updated OS that people outside of major corporations wanted to use? Maybe they’ll get it right with Blackberry OS 7.

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