The term "fragmentation" has negative connotations in IT circles. When used to describe the condition of a (mechanical) hard drive, it means that data on the magnetic discs is stored in different physical locations and it takes the drive mechanism much longer to read (or write) data to and from the disc. It also causes the distinctive chattering or clicking noise from the drive as the heads are rapidly moved over the disc. More modern uses of the term "fragmentation" include the state of a given market, such as Android devices, where there are many, many different models running a version of Google's operating system in existence. When used in this context, fragmentation is not always and necessarily a negative thing because it means customers have a choice. In terms of Android smartphones, all manner of devices are available ranging from entry level, small screen devices, to mid range devices with large screens, to higher end devices with relatively small screens – and almost everything in between.
However, one of the side effects of fragmentation and of providing customers with such a wide choice is that it can be confusing. And this brings us to the concept of paying for stuff using our smartphones, where studies have shown that if a customer is to use a mobile 'phone and short range wireless technology in order to pay for something, he or she is far more likely to use the technology that was present on the device when they bought it, especially where the service made it easy to identify where they were able to use the payment system. In a recent article, research firm Strategy Analytics warns that this choice could pull up significant obstacles in the not too distant figure although there are some signs of consolidation. Apple will doubtless sledgehammer retailers and banks into using Apple Pay, plus their implementation of NFC technology is (to be kind) limited to Apple Pay. Android Pay and Samsung Pay have a more open system but a tougher time of it. However, Google's acquisition of Softcard and Samsung buying LoopPay could help the bigger players consolidate the market.
For the non-iPhone customer, perhaps some customers will install both Android Pay and Samsung Pay. Other customers may simply stick with whatever payment system is on their device and this is why it is important for both Google and Samsung to maintain some device presence. We may also see some Samsung devices released with US carriers AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile US ship with both Android Pay and Samsung Pay, as these carriers appear to be supporting Google's payment system. It's great that there are three systems and it seems hard to imagine that a retailer will support one provider but not the other two, but we will have to wait and see what happens.