Featured: Revisiting Fragmentation – Is Android Still Scattered?

April 23, 2012 - Written By Mike Stenger

The F word. Not the four letter one, but the one that gets Eric Schmidt a bit heated if you mention it to him: Fragmentation. Google has been serious about eradicating this problem in the past year. Ditch development on Honeycomb, go all in on Ice Cream Sandwich, and have manufacturers ship new phones with it and get it supported on many others.

How well have they done though?

In a post earlier this month by BGR, there’s still a lot of fragmentation going on. While Android 4.0 ICS installs have more than doubled in the past month, only 2.9% of Android devices have the latest and greatest. That’s an awesome APR percentage rate, but we’re not talking about credit cards here.

Clearly the biggest issue is the fact that smartphone manufacturers’ time and attention is already spread thin. Having developers get ICS up and running on previous phones, well, is a task that not only takes a considerable amount of time, but is time that could be spent working on more popular and current devices.

And that’s the problem. With 4,374 different Android smartphones currently on the market (give or take a few), many get left running Gingerbread or even worse, Froyo.

How does this get solved? Well, first of all, stop making 47 different phones. There’s one thing that Apple got right and it’s not having too many choices. While some may look at the iPhone with pure disgust, it’s not a bad model and is working quite well for them.

Secondly, make a commitment to get Android 4.0 on devices that are at least rocking a 1GHZ or faster chip and 512MB RAM. Again, resources and time are spread thin, but what some manufacturers don’t realize is just how much that will improve their bottom line.

For me, whenever I put a new ROM on my phone, it feels like a totally new phone and, as usual, is much faster thanks to improvements in the software. Yes, the sale has already been made, but you know what’s better than one sale? 2 sales and by bringing that new experience to customers, they’ll appreciate you for it.

The fact that almost 64% of Android devices currently on the market are running Gingerbread is a bit disappointing. These numbers can clearly be improved and by focusing on the less is more philosophy and realizing just how important the experience is, more people can enjoy the awesomeness of what is Ice Cream Sandwich.

Of course, this goes against the idea and knowledge that with Android there are many options to choose from, but let’s be honest: Would it hurt to scale it back a little bit? Probably not.