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Samsung’s Android OS Fragmentation is a Huge Problem ~ Why is this a Propblem โšซ๐Ÿ”ดโšซ๐Ÿ”ดโšซ๐Ÿ”ดโšซ๐Ÿ”ด

September 27, 2013

If youโ€™ve ever compared an iPhone or iPad with a phone or tablet that runs Googleโ€™s Android, you may have noticed that the Apple gadgets just seems to run more smoothly. At Appleโ€™s annual gathering of developers in San Francisco in June, 2013, Apple CEO Tim Cook gleefully displayed a pair of pie charts that explain why.

Android Fragmentation Graphic. Hard to believe, but there are currently 11,868 unique Android Devices, each represented by a colored-block representing pieces of Android Operating System Puzzle, that all the Carriers and Smart Phone makers, that exist currently have to deal with. Imagine an App Developer deciding which version of the Android operating system, they should focus their attention on, for their new Amazing App Idea. Then compare this chart with the simple Apple Pie Chart, where 93% of the now 700 million iPhone, iOS users are on iOS6.

BTW, within a week or so, over 300 million iPhone users have already updated their iPhones to iOS7, making this update the fastest adoption of an Operating System upgrade ever. If you were an App Developer… Where would you spend your Time and Human Resources?


The Bottom Line. Samsung and Google are making preparations to Distance themselves from Android. What a mess that will make, further fragmentation for sure, as this migration from Android unfolds. This Android Exit will happen. We predicted this inevitability several years ago. Perhaps Google and Samsung go with the Windows Mobile OS. That has got to be a better place than Android.

These show how much more unified iPhoneโ€™s universe is compared to Androidโ€™s. More than nine in ten iPhone users have the latest version of Appleโ€™s mobile operating system, iOS 6. By contrast, three different versions of Android make up a comparable proportion. The single most prevalent version, Gingerbread (or v2.3), which is several versions behind the latest one, is used by only 37% of Android devices.

This, Apple users claim, is proof of the superiority of iOS over Android. Because only Apple makes iOS devices and constantly pushes their owners to update to the latest version of iOS, developers can easily create apps that work perfectly on every device.

Apple certainly has a point. The graphic at the top of this story, from a nifty new report put together by app-maker OpenSignal, shows just how fragmented the Android ecosystem is. Nearly 12,000 devices, by a slew of different manufacturers, each of which not only chooses which version of Android to use but bolts on various modifications of its own, wrestle for a piece of the action.

Samsung makes up nearly half of those devices, no single phone can claim much of a lead over the others. The biggest-selling model, Samsungโ€™s Galaxy S3, accounts for less than 6% of Androidโ€™s market. The highest-ranking non-Samsung device, Googleโ€™s Nexus 4, comes in seventh, with a meagre 1.1%. The phrase โ€œlong tailโ€ has never been more appropriate.

Android Fragmentation is growing explosively. When OpenSignal did a similar study last year (it gets the data from devices that have recently downloaded its app, which helps users manage their signal strength), it found 3,997 Android models from 599 brands. This yearโ€™s study found 11,868 models across 1,778 brands in over 200 countries. Almost 3,000 of these devices appeared only once in OpenSignalโ€™s sample of 682,000 downloads. As more companies in developing countries get in on the handset game, the Android ecosystem can only get more diverse.

That is a headache for developers. They face two main complicating factors. The first is screen size. At the moment, an iOS app needs to work on a grand total of four screen sizes, namely those of the iPad, the iPad Mini, the iPhone 5, and the older iPhones and iPod Touch. In contrast, Android devices come in all shapes and sizes, from beermat-shaped phones to great big blotter-size tablets. That means every app must go through weeks of testing on numerous devices to make sure it looks presentable.

The second problem is the operating system fragmentation that Tim Cook was gloating about. App-makers need to decide between making their app work on even the weakest and oldest versions of Androidโ€”which means sacrificing power and features for the sake of reaching as many users as possibleโ€”or only on newer ones, which means sacrificing possible users at the altar of progress.

Why APP Developers Flock to Apple iOS. Why are Android APP Developers slow with their Development Efforts ?

Apple announced recently that its iOS6 is now on 400 million of the approximately 600 million iOS devices in just 6 months of its release, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod devices. This accounts for about 66% of the total number of all iOS devices sold globally; This is a very impressive statistic for any mobile OS that’s been released, particularly for Apple’s iOS6 which was released a mere six months ago. Before the year is out 93% are on iOS6

This 93% adoption rate blows Android out of the water, which has struggled to get customers to adopt the latest version of their OS. The latest versions of Android include version 4.1 and 4.2 (called Jelly Bean) which is powering only 10.2% of Android devices. The bulk of Android devices (47%) are still on version 2.3 (nicknamed Gingerbread), and 29% are have upgraded to Jelly Bean 4.0 level.

In the world of computing, main-frame computers, desk-tops, lap-tops, etc, the Operating System is the “System Software behind the Application Software.” The Operating System is machine-language programs designed by equipment manufacturers (internal programmers), with Apple the code is written by Apple Engineers. The Operating System tells the machine, the iPhone, the iPad, the lap-top, how to communicate within itself. The Application Software are programs, the APPs, written by internal and external Programmers, that communicate with Users, on doing things; answering the phone, talking on the phone, transcribing voice to text, displaying books to read, turning pages, scanning documents, depositing checks into your Bank account…

In my early days in business I was trained at IBM’s corporate offices located in Boca Raton, FL, 1972, learning COBOL and RPG, two very popular DOS operating system, application programming languages. In the world of computing, the technology of the Device is very important; however, “its the Software Stupid” recalling James Carville’s advice to President Bill Clinton, “its the Economy Stupid.” No matter how exciting the Hardware is crafted, its speed, options, memory capacity… It is simply a dumb-box of technology, in the absence of an effective Software package.

Recall that the overall Software Package is generally comprised of 2 basic components, the Operating System, (like iOS6 in the world of Apple iPads, iPods, and iPhones or Jelly Bean 4.2 for Android devices), and the Application Software, (like the Apple Apps available on their App Store, and the Applications one may download onto Android devices.

One of the reasons that Android users are not anxious to update (or cannot due to hardware constraints) their iOS system software, is the new Android OS version may conflict with the operation of their Applications on one’s device or new OS may not be compatible with the device itself.

Conversely, Apple users are generally anxious to quickly upgrade, self included, to Apple new iOS releases, as the improvements delivered do not conflict with the Apps on everyone’s Apple devices (except Apple IOS6 for example, is not usable for iPad1 or iPhone 3GS, or earlier versions), assuming the iDevice has not been “hacked” or “Jail-Broken” by tinkering users. I’m not one of them.

Android operating system “fragmentation” is one of the significant reasons why APP developers flock to Apple iOS products, as iOS users are confident that when Apple releases a new iOS version, it WORKS across most of their entire line of devices… Android users do not have that confidence, and are even known to be fearful of making Android OS changes. This is evidenced by the fact that almost 60% of all Android users using an iOS that is over 2 years old.

For Android users, watch out you wished for namely, “the open App architecture.” These folks are damned by their own desires; When a new iOS is made available to them, a super-majority of these users, like 90%, are “fearful of louse up” their devices, because of possible APP or Hardware conflicts, with the new operating system update. This is also evidenced by the fact that only 10.2% of Android Users are using the current Jelly Bean iOS version, where as over 400 million, over 66% of Apple users, are using the most current iOS6. These figures are January, 2013 extrapolations.

Personally, the last time I had these adverse technology feelings, was when I was a WINDOWS personal computer user for some 20+ years, 1984 through 2004. I was known to wait a year or more, before I would migrate any of our computers to a new Windows OS. As a former Bank manager, memos when to our IT folks, instructing them not to upgrade to quickly; The theory being, let everyone else be the guinea-pigs suffering with the buggy new OS release. Apparently, Android users are suffering from the similar buggy Hardware and Software upgrade issues, I used to face with Windows.

Notice in the graphics below:

  • 59% of Android users remain at Gingerbread, Level 2 of their OS, initially released in January, 2011

  • 29% of Android users remain at Ice Cream Sandwich, Level 4, initially released in January, 2012

  • 10% of Android users are at Jelly Bean, most current version, initially released early July, 2012

This graphic is regarding Android OS upgrades, a slice thereof to show the release dates more clearly. The complete Android release schedule and percentage of adopters is at the bottom of this writing.

In 2005, 7 years ago, I gave up on WINDOWS completely, after repeated appeals by my 13 year old son, Daniel; We invested in three APPLE MAC Book Pro laptops, and never looked back, donating 3 of our 4 Widows PS computers to our Church. I retained one Windows PC for the transition. Apple’s OS operating system releases, Mountain Lion, Tiger, whatever, were all very reliable updates; therefor most of the MAC users migrated almost immediately, to take advantage of all the nifty functional, stability, and security improvements their new OS would offer.

For Apple iDevice users, and most any Smart-Phone users, primarily want their devices to WORK; As Apple iPhone and iPad owners, we are delighted with relatively error-free updates; but there is a small clan of Apple Geeks that are always complaining about Apple’s strict CONTROL of the Application Developers’ work product.

However, the benefit for the 600,000,000 Apple device users, and the tens of thousands of APP Developers, both of which know how to use the Consistent Hardware, and the Developers know that there is a relatively huge level of unFragmented iOS and MAC users out there, not to mention that Apple will deliver in 2013 another 250,000,000 new iPhones and iPads with the current iOS, or a totally compatible iOS7, whenever it is relesed.

Why is Apple so Strict? Because, simply, if the iPhone or iPad “freezes up” the user “blames the iDEVICE,” blames Apple, rather than the user’s APPs resident on their iDevices, causing potential conflicts within their Operating System.

Apple and Apple App developers must follow Apple’s developer-interface-protocols; there are thousands of these APIs, “call-up routines and Objects,” that all APP developers must use, in creating an APPs; If Apple sees any “foreign APIs” within an App, the App will either be rejected for placement in the Apple App Store, or if Apple’s Compliance team finds an non-authentic API or Protocol, after the App is published on the App Store, the App would be pulled from the APP Store. Granted this may constrain some developers in their creativity. However, in the long-run, Apple is attempting to assure a consistent USER interface with almost no device “freezing” or other issues that may “crash” an iDevice.

Apple’s App Store now has over 800,000 Apps for the iPhone (we have a bit over 200 of them) and 300,000 native iPad Apps, built specifically for the iPad’s larger “real estate.” Apple has sold more than 125 million iPads since inception in April, 2010, according to the company, and analysts expect Apple to sell about 190 million iPhones and 60 million iPads in just 2013.

At year-end 2013, Apple will be crowding almost One Billion iDevices. When approaching these staggering numbers Hardware, Operating System and APP consistencies are strategic ingredients for a continued Happy User population, helping to assure future growth, product penetration, and market share…

Apple says their iDevice owners, have downloaded more than 40 billion Apps since 2008 for the iPhones, iPads and iPods, and nearly 20 Billion downloads just in 2012. And for the record these figures do not include App version updates, nor re-downloads when device owners upgrade to a new iPhone. Apple Inc. said Monday, Jan 7th, that just for December, 2012 saw a record number of downloads, of more than 2 billion new App download/sales. Apple says it has paid its APP developers more than $7 billion. Which translates to a $10 Billion APP developer Industry. Example, for a single $3.00 APP paid by an iPhone user, Apple retains $1.00, and Apple pays the Developer $2.00. Also of note over 30% of all APPs are Free.

In sum, its the software stupid… the hardware technology in the container, in the device, is important and in the case of Apple the Hardware is consistent. With Android there are hundreds of OEM manufacturers Android has to deal with… all the screen sizes, screen resolutions, the memory and processor configurations, their speeds, the cameras, the pixels, the lens systems, auto-focus and image stabilization methods… all these ingredients are important to know when APPs and iOS Systems are created and implemented into the Hardware;

However, if the System Software is flakey because of a variety of Hardware designs, and the “market place” for the user-APPs are not carefully controlled, then the APPs may become “flakey” and the Smart-Phone may “freeze” when the iOS is updated. IMHO, these issues among others, are why Android users do not migrate to the most advanced Operating System, as the overall Software platform combined with the “Open App Development” are an unreliable mix, which may make Users scared to update, which is a shame, as Android/Google, really wants its users to have their most advanced iOS, which they spend millions of dollars to create.

**One More Thing:** When a smart-phone user is happy and becomes accustomed with their iPhone 4 or 5, for example, and they invest in some Apps, then some more Apps are bought, makes their iDevice a more strategic communications and computing device, AND a mobile phone…

At this point, late January, 2013, these 600,000,000 Apple iDevice owners (Apple is delivering over 100 million units a MONTH) are “intellectually invested” as they really know how to use their devices, the iDevices being so intuitive to use, operating manuals are not even packaged in the Box; Example, our 80 year old brother-in-law (Jack in Milwaukee) was given an iPhone-4 by his wife last month, and was using it painlessly in his first day.

Taking this thought further, when a number of APPs are bought/downloaded, adding more amazing utility to the Smart-Phone, these users also become “economically invested” with an inventory of valuable Apps. The nifty part, as Apple continues to create very consistent, New and Improved Hardware, users can migrate to the New iPhone 6, when its released, using Apple’s iCloud service (free for most users), an upgrading user can bring over ALL their APPs, Books, Calendars, Contact List, emails, custom settings, into the new iPhone 6 or iPad 4 in several minutes, an entirely automated, painless process, and viola, you’re “in business” with a new Apple iDevice.

These Hardware and Software consistencies make for very Happy users, where Apple maintains over 90% of their installed user base, and captures 30% to 45% of most of Apple’s competitors clients, year after year, because the all these Happy users, 600,000,000 of them, are all “Intellectually and Economically Invested” telling their friends and family, how can one keep this a secret from the folks you know… all adding up to Apple future growth.

Every Happy Apple customer is another Apple success, one at a time, and the Apple team of employees assure it.


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3 Comments
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