updated 12:40 pm EDT, Mon April 4, 2011
86pc of Android devs hurt by fragmentation
A fresh study from Baird venture capitalist William Powers has suggested that 86 percent of Android developers see OS version fragmentation as a problem. Only 14 percent of the 250 developers asked didn't see it as an issue, while 57 percent either saw it as a "meaningful" or a "huge" problem. He added that some were also worried about store fragmentation triggered by the Amazon Appstore and other portals.
Many also found iOS easier to code for than Android, and thought it was considerably easier to get app exposure and proper pay on iOS than on Android. There were a large number of "junk" apps making it harder to be seen.
Wilson still argued that developers should write for Android first, but developers were hedging bets and usually writing for both. About 71 percent of those asked were writing for Android, but 62 percent were supporting Apple's platform and by extension writing for both. Just 27 percent were developing for another platform, in part because Android and iOS were much easier to program than BlackBerry or Symbian.
Google until recently repeatedly denied that fragmentation even existed and, at one point, falsely claimed that Android apps would work across virtually all platforms. Some apps, especially many of Google's newer apps, won't run on anything less than Android 2.2, which excluded most of the Android user base until early this year.
The firm has recently shown signs of admitting the problem exists and is unofficially believed to be engaging in a crackdown on excess fragmentation that would limit how much HTC, Motorola, Samsung, or any other vendor could change. Its decision to withhold source for Android 3.0 is owed both to the rush to get a release out before the iPad 2 but also to control fragmentation. The move conveniently prevents companies from installing Android 3.0 on devices that aren't optimized for the OS or getting an early start on customizations.
Hardware OEMs have often thrived on Android fragmentation since they believe it helps them arbitrarily differentiate their phones, but the policy has usually led to months long delays for updates and, in some cases, completely orphaned products like the Galaxy Tab that won't get an update beyond what first shipped.