Smartphones

Enough with the hubbub about Android fragmentation

Mobile developer Kyle Miller doesn't see what all the fuss is about Android fragmentation. He argues that Web browsers are much more fragmented than Android.

It frustrates me when I read about how Android fragmentation drives developers away from Android and into the comfort of iOS. This isn't to say the issue people are attempting to address -- mainly that there are way more Android devices than iOS devices, the devices run various versions of the OS and are even highly customized -- doesn't exist, but I've been programming Android on a daily basis for more than two years, and I have yet to encounter a situation that had me cursing Android fragmentation. I cannot say the same for Web development.

Let's consider these facts:

  • There are hundreds of different Android devices out in the wild, compared to a handful of iOS devices.
  • The hundreds of different Android devices have a vast array of combinations of screen sizes and resolutions.
  • The hundreds of different Android devices vary wildly in the hardware they sport, from single-core 600 MHz processors to dual-core 1.5 GHz monsters. Some have a mere 256 MB of RAM, while others tip the scales at 1 GB.
  • A majority of these Android devices are not on the latest and greatest version of Android.

So what? In my opinion, Web browsers are much more fragmented than Android. One of the most difficult aspects of Web development is making your Web app look and behave exactly the same across various Web browsers. It's difficult enough when you're faced with supporting the latest iteration of each of the main Web browsers, but the difficultly is compounded when you are required to support older versions of the browsers too.

For instance, a couple months ago, a client informed me that I would have to make the Web app I have been developing/growing for him over the past several years support IE6, a browser that has been on the market for more than 10 years. I'm sure you can imagine the terse words that were exchanged after this bombshell was dropped on me. I begrudgingly did it and nearly pulled my hair out at times while attempting to get every feature/style working across every browser in such a way that supported (or rather catered to) IE6.

Compared to Web apps and browsers, getting Android apps looking and working consistently across various devices, screen sizes, and pixel densities is a walk in the park. From the bucketing of layouts and resources for different display sizes, to the "dip" (density-independent pixels) measurement system and the CSS-like styling, Android provides an easy way to address this concern if you put in the time to learn it.

I've heard from quite a few iOS developers that the pixel-perfect way of styling iOS layouts is quite a bit less desirable than the free-form way of styling Android layouts, which makes sense. When was the last time you styled a Web page by positioning all elements on the page absolutely? Hopefully never.

Addressing older versions of Android

The latest platform distribution chart on Android's Developer site indicates that nearly 56% of Android devices (with access to the Android Market) are on Gingerbread (Android 2.3), which was released in December 2010. Additionally, 30% of Android devices are on Froyo (Android 2.2), which was launched a year before Gingerbread.

While it may seem odd that nearly one third of Android devices are still on version 2.2, we must also consider that not all devices are created equal. As Android matures and becomes more resource intensive, the basic hardware requirements also advance. One of the reasons Android has been such a smashing success is due to the proliferation of cheap, low-end phones in the market.

Therefore, it's not fair to assume that all Android devices ought to be upgraded to the latest and greatest version of Android. It's the same reason the iPhone 3G can't upgrade to iOS 5. There just happen to be quite a few more Android devices that don't "make the cut."

What do you think?

Share your opinions about Android fragmentation in the comments.

About

Kyle is a senior software engineer specializing in web/Android development living in Austin TX. He's a self-professed "gadget freak" whose passion for mobile devices drove him to jump into the mobile industry in 2010. He enjoys the fast-paced nature ...

61 comments
Heamsy
Heamsy

I'm not a techie. I use computers and 'phones in the course of my business and personal life, and although I do run a website, for my own amusement, and have put together some pretty amateurish programs, I am like a motorist that is not concerned with what goes on under the bonnet, just as long as the car gets me down to the shops. I can see why developers would be concerned about universal compatibility though but I would argue that this is more important for some applications than others. There are certain core apps that need to work on every phone and across computer platforms. I am thinking here of apps like Google Docs and Google Calender as well as certain word processing and notebook apps. If you use a number of different machines in the course of the day then having these core programs always to hand is important. On the other hand, in my experience, Gamers will buy the machine that they know will run their chosen game or type of game best. They are often not worried about compatibility, the machine follows the game. Coming back to "core" programs or apps, the second feature that developers have to bear in mind is backwards compatibility. This came home tome when I worked for a company that had no intranet but used a series of stand-a-lone computers scattered over a number of offices. I was peripatetic and used sneaker net (a floppy disk in my shirt pocket - remember those?) to ensure access to all my essential letters, catalogues and spreadsheets. It was in that job I came to realise that different versions of Microsoft Word would not recognise each other's output. This is not acceptable. I can understand earlier versions of a program not recognising the output of a later version but surly backwards compatibility is essential, particularly in business tools. I know run away screaming whenever anyone mentions "Microsoft Word". Incidentally, the best program I have come across in this respect was "Wordworth" a word processor I used to run on my Amigas (remember those?) and which got up to version 5 before the good old Amiga went belly up. I could open documents in version 1 that were produced in version 5 without any difficulty except for a message that said the certain features would not be available. Most people tend to upgrade when they change their 'phones or computers so, as a user, I would say that backwards compatibility is more important than universal compatibility and there should be a list somewhere for all new phones and computers explaining what they will and won't run.

bike1967br
bike1967br

The difference between browser's fragmentation and OSs' fragmentation is when you have an incompatible browser with some webpage is easy to change the browser or upgrade your own. When you have an incompatible OS you must upgrade the OS, that's not a trivial thing, especially in android, because the upgrade has not a linear behavior for all devices

Hazydave
Hazydave

Everyone want to keep the latest version of their mobile OS on their phone, but that's not going to be supported by the manufacturer. Look at Apple; they have a reputation for keeping their devices updated, and they certainly do better than some manufacturers. And yet, the iPhone hasn't been on the market five years yet, and already, half of the models made can't run the latest OS. Apple won't even allow it. Same with Microsoft. You expect better support from them, given that I technically can run Windows 7 on my 1990s-vintage PC (not that I ought to... it's probably too slow to be useful runing Win7, but it could). And yet, the Windows Mobile 6.5 devices sold last year, which outsold Windows 7 Phone device more than 3:1, will never run Windows 7 Phone. Microsoft won't allow it. The market as it exists for these devices is defined entirely by the two-year contract purchase habits of US consumers. Doesn't matter than Canadians might be more likely to go on a three year plan, or Europeans buy the devices directly, or Asians... whatever they do. Doesn't matter. At least with Android, it's possible to update your phone beyond whatever useful life the manufacturer deems appropriate. It may not be any smarter, given the rapid growth of mobile devices, but at least it's possible. In fact, this is rapidly becoming a selling point... locked bootloaders and other corruption is being filtered out of the marketplace. Google could do things to improve this, but the fact is, the market today already puts this in users' hands, in ways that Apple and Microsoft never will. And that's another thing to consider... the rapid evolution of the mobile device. If you wait three years and update your desktop PC, you're lucky to double performance. Chances are, you get a good 50% performance increase for a decent upgrade price, along with some new port types, better graphics, and the all-important new version of Windows (new versions of Windows drive consumer upgrades more than any other single factor these days). In mobile, it's another story. My 2009 smartphone ran a single core ARM Cortex A8 at 550MHz; my new 2011 smartphone sports a dual core ARM Cortex A9 at 1.2GHz... that's more than a factor of 5x speedup in two years. With 4x the system RAM, 2.7x the screen resolution, more flash storage, etc. By late 2012, I can expect a quad core, even faster cores (A15 and the new thing from Qualcomm that's nearly as fast), etc. This is certainly one excuse hardware manufacturers can make about leaving their old stuff behind. And again, this is worse on monoculture systems like iOS, where Apple knows that every serious iOS fan is running an iPhone 4 or 4S... so why should they even care about older models? Developers may feel much the same way... is a "free" 3GS buyer even worth supporting, much less users of older models. The wide range of hardware on Android has a more stabilizing effect; applications themselves scale to the hardware, as they have on the PC for a generation.

ifeanyiokoye
ifeanyiokoye

As a programmer you say it's not a problem, but just imagine that I've spent the last 2 weeks trying to find a way to play Asphalt 6 HD on my Asus Transformer and it's just not working. Doesn't even show up on Market and going to the developer's site is even worse. Also I feel that the development of Honeycomb did not put in much thought as the developers of iOS. Also I feel that android on devices such as mobile phones only makes sense because of layering of applications like HTC Sense else I wonder what they would really be like. I can't use any Samsung android device because whatever is laid over the android OS just does not work for me. I hope ICS is so much better, even though I'm not sure people with my kind of device are eligible for an upgrade

mwiseman
mwiseman

As a user to whom much of this is the "hidden magic" inside the phones, I don't really care what the version number is on my phone. Fine...upgrade me from 2.3 to 2.3.4 because of a bug fix....maybe just don't change the rev numbers? Call it an SP? My Atrix 4G is running 2.3.4 (I imagine that you refer to that as a fork of 2.3?) Will it work on 3.0? 4.0? I assume that 3.0 is a big upgrade from 2.x and as such is designed for the hardware that is being made at the time of its development. Does the OS developer talk to the hardware people? At Apple, it's the same company so I would assume "yes." I assume that MS would talk to the hardware people when they upgrade Windows. So, we have OS developers working with hardware people. in MS's case, they decide to offer backwards compatibility to some hardware configurations but not all (think of all the older [read: 3+ years] computers that can't run Windows 7.) There has to be a time to cut the support cord for older hardware. New OS's tend to make older OS's subsets of the new OS. What I want is a phone that will last 3+ years and be able to work on all OS's that are released. While that may not happen, I would like the OS developers to at least continue working on the OS until a decent period of time. Give my phone 5 years and I'll be happy...VERY happy!

jfreedle2
jfreedle2

I am tired of hearing about Android! The software is nothing but beta quality at best and very uninteresting. I cannot wait until it is but a faint memory.

TiagoViana
TiagoViana

... i learned my android isn't a key part of the end of the world! Thanks man! :)

drizo72
drizo72

Android is destined for forking and fragmentation just as Linux is. But iOS is destined to experience the same fragmentation, originating from its unavoidable evolution. Apple is just a hardware manufacturer and will soon face the challenge of how to bring in new devices without breaking the platform uniformity. When MS was killing Kin, Windows Mobile 6.x etc, everybody thought they were crazy. Well, they were not. Everybody owning a Windows Phone 7 device at this point, is using the same version. Yes, through a difficult first year of problems, Microsoft has ironed out the upgrade process of each and every windows phone through a complex mechanism involving Microsoft, Manufacturers and Carriers. What MS has done is WAY more than what people know about... They have paved the way of mobile OS lifecycle management, and they've been designing this since the introduction of the first iPhone. (yes, exactly, you can imagine how many steps ahead they already are). This is why they will prevail once more. They learned from their mistakes and they've been designing the future of mobile OS, since the day one of iPhone, when Android was not even an idea. I am not going to brag about how good Windows Phone is. The only thing I'am saying is that the process behind it is well thought and tested for one year already. I don't believe Google or Apple can do much now to reverse their dead-end situation. Both of them have already failed to model the mobile OS lifecycle, as they have failed to take into consideration all aspects of this business. In the short-term, yes, it is possible to be successful without having to take into account all aspects. This is what is happening now... Android booms and iPhone keeps up because there is still not a lot of fragmentation... It may take two or more years for Microsoft to reestablish confidence among consumers, but they will make it since they have introduced a killing product with a killing lifecycle management and support behind it. (Not to mention the killing and free tools for development). It takes millions of persondays of effort to achieve this. Not everything is a matter of technology... You can make Metro UI lookalike apps on your Android or iPhone but you just cannot copy effort, discussions, agreements, testing, collaboration, rules, business model put in behind what Windows Phone is.

stephen
stephen

So to quote John Gruber, 'Why do apps from the same company look worse on Android than on iPhone?' You can slate John Gruber for being an Apple pundit but the issue seems real enough, Apple apps look cool and android .... well er don't.

delimitaciones
delimitaciones

First: Android adoption is not forced, also android's standarization is a choice (there are guidelines and baseline policies), so current android devices differences are some kind of sign that manufacturer's don't want to make the same device for everyone and rely competence with prices. As i had seen until now fragmentation as result of the open nature of android is good, many people can make their own customized devices and of course some effort is needed if you want to make solutions for a wider target but that's the deal (anyone that have worked with embedded solutions can say android made the development easier a ton)... i also think that device manufacturers learned the wintel's lessons (also explains why nobody in that industry likes Microsoft or Intel and try to get more exclusive and customized devices).

theamit
theamit

First of all, the android fanboys who cry freedom, you're free to create on Apple devices too, just under a tighter set of guidelines as opposed to a free for all that is fast becoming the Android marketplace, get it right. As for fragmentation. The Android device manufacturers have NO loyalty to google. What they do have though is direct competition with all the other hundreds of Android based device manufacturers and because Android is "free" it's only a matter of time before the device manufacturers start tweaking their Android Os'es to better utilise the hardware that they manufacture in an attempt to gain an edge over their competition. End result? Further fragmentation, currently there are 3 iterations of Android widely used, but, soon there will be the Samsung 2.2, 2.3, 2.4. The HTC 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 and so on and so forth. None of this is new. HP, Dell, IBM have all done the same thing with windows. Google have just taken a model that made Microsoft rich and applied it to Mobile devices, now every year or so Google will release a new version of Android, device manufacturers will run out to create new devices to use that version and the adoring hordes of freedom sheep will run out to buy it. I own both an iPhone and an Android phone. I'm extra cautious when I download apps for the Android, simply because, there are no checks in place to guarantee i'm not downloading malware. In my opinion neither device / OS is better than the other but fragmentation is and always will be a major issue for Android.

Hazydave
Hazydave

Real fragmentation means just on thing -- apps that work on one device do not work on another. This is the only real fragmentation, because it's the one that affects the end user experience. And it is inevitable, on any living platform. Applications written for Windows 7 may not run well, or at all, on XP. That XP hardware may not run Windows 7 in a useful way. Apps written for the iPad won't work on the iPhone; apps that push the graphics on the iPhone 4S won't play usefully on the iPhone 4 or 3GS... and iPhones 3 and earlier won't run iOS5. Apple won't allow SIRI on older iPhones, even though it would work. Each new version of MacOS has features or applications that won't run older versions of the OS. Not a single Windows Mobile 6.5 device is supported with a Windows 7 Phone upgrade, and the apps are incompatible in both directions. But it's Android that's fragmented? I claim the wide reach of Android makes it fairly immune to real fragmentation. Like every desktop OS in the last 20 years, Android was designed to support multiple resolutions, and it does this better than most. Thus, nearly every app I ran on my Android 2.2 tablet ran, full screen and full resolution.. and that was before the official tablet support in 3.0. This is an example of what we'll increasingly see in the years to come -- the mandate of device flexibility makes Android quicker to adapt to new hardware than the competition. A year or two ago, a new iOS device introductionset high water marks across the board for mobile computing. Last time.. well, it had a fast GPU. No other feature matched those of at least a few Android devices already on the market. And we've already seen a half dozen new Androids that are better still. Windows Phone is over a year behind on the hardware. Expect this gulf to widen.

DanielRP
DanielRP

It can't be that hard cus there's something harder? Not really compelling.

thegreenwizard1
thegreenwizard1

I use my phone for what it is: a mobile small web browser. If I want good quality, I put my PC on. By using my phone I accept the restriction due to the size and processor's capacity and I choses the price I want to pay. I'm happy with the choice I made.

jcarullo
jcarullo

As long as the device does what it's supposed to do, who cares? Are you buying the device for the OS or for the features it provides? If the feature set isn't right, get the device that has the correct features. I pondered this with my last phone upgrade. Then I realized the phone gave me what I want. Problem solved. And, yes, thank God Microsoft and Google DON'T control the hardware too.

mmmmmark
mmmmmark

What is Google doing about the Malware infection rates? In my country the carriers recommend installing virus protection! Why doesn't Blackberry and IOS have these problems? Are they serious or is it just about the money and trying to fool people with false security certifications!!!

mkottman
mkottman

Look at $ of apps purchased per phone for iOS vs. Android. Get it?

PSW60
PSW60

I have little time for this type of argument, I'm sure we all agree that rape is not that serious as long as there are people out there committing murders... OK, sorry, stupid and tasteless example - but you get my point, it's the same sort of thinking - fragmentation is a problem, but it's not that much of problem because browser standards cause us more headaches. The point is that, as a wise man (Santayana, I think) once said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." And isn't that the tragedy here - Google who, of all people, should have known better, have created something that (admittedly as a result of good intentions) is now repeating the mistakes of the past. So we end up with a choice between the free-market anarchy of Android and the Stalinist workers paradise of Apple. Oddly, Microsoft seem to be be a lot closer to a workable, practical, middle-ground. But that's probably too little, too late and, being Microsoft it's fairly safe to assume that they will muck it up...

jasondlnd
jasondlnd

As a developer, you have to look at things from a user perspective. Ultimately, users will be using your software, and therefore you develop for those end users. That being said, there are MAJOR differences between web browsers and all-inclusive devices. As an end user, if you happen to use a browser that does not support a specific website, you can always change browsers temporarily, with no cost to you. It therefore does not matter to the end user if a site supports an outdated version of IE. (To your employer it might, but that is a different story). But... As an end user, If you have an older, outdated Android phone (or a newer one running the older version of the OS), you're out of luck. Can't run a specific app? Too bad! Your version of Android is too old and you need a new phone, because God knows that your current one will never be updated. The i-devices receive OS upgrades...even "older" models like the 3GS can run the latest versions iOS or one version down (in the case of the 3G). New iPhones aren't "stuck" running the older version of iOS...they have the latest and greatest, which makes programming EASIER for developers who want to take advantage of the latest bells and whistles the iPhone can offer. Developers who make apps for Android based tablets and phones need to understand a simple point. If you develop for Android, make sure it runs on Cupcake, Donut, or if you're daring, Eclair. That way, it will have the highest level of compatibility with Android devices.

gregtjones
gregtjones

We have just spent an insane amount of time trying to get a Sumsung G SII to integrate with Exchange 2010 SP1 for a client. What a PITA. As someone in the office here pointed out. Android is like Linux, flavours all over the place. Apple with its limited number of iOS versions is a lot more like Windows. Take a look on the web for Android and ActivSync and there is carnage everywhere. This URL on Wiki also shows to just what extent the variation in Android version has on ActiveSync compatibility http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Exchange_ActiveSync_Clients. AND for those that think I might be a closet Apple employee, I have used Android for the last 2 years without issue, the latest being an identical S G S II that I recommended to the client. What makes it even worse is I know that there is later firmware for the S G S II, but the carrier hasn't validated it and if I try to hack the latest firmware onto the phone, I void warranty. SO... My take. Android is great for the general public, but sadly I am swinging to Apple (despite it costing a premium) for our corporate clients.

M Wagner
M Wagner

First, neither Windows XP nor IE6 are still available and IE7 was a free upgrade of Windows XP so anyone still dependent on this twelve-year-old browser is foolish. Second, while Windows XP applications might be incompatible with the Windows Vista / 7 platforms, applications written for Windows 7 are certainly compatible with Windows XP. Today, you can buy an Android device and you might get Ginger Bread, Honey Comb, or Ice Cream Sandwich - but you cannot be sure that applications running on ICS will be compatible with either of the other two. You cannot even be sure that all Ginger Bread applications will run on all Ginger Bread tablets. This kind of fragmentation creates user confusion not found by buyers of personal computers who know that their new machine will either be running the latest version of Windows or the latest version of MacOSX. They can buy a new iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch and they will have the same guarantee.

htolley
htolley

I've been trying to get people to understand this as well, fragmentation is a news topic that is used to highlight the negatives of Android, fragmentation is inconvenient, but it is nessecary and much easier for developers to deal with than web development. However; the real issue is the lack of OS updates, this is a serious issue. There must be a mechanism to provide updates to the OS in a timely fashion.

zoso967
zoso967

Code for Gingerbread 2.3 and you should be ok on most Droid platforms. You can add support for new features as more devices support newer the OS's. Yes, fragmentation is an issue but not that big an issue ... yet.

anarchcassius
anarchcassius

I find the choice of pure DPI and size categories a bit frustrating a times but that's it. It'd be nice to know the actual pixel dimensions of a screen with ease. That said, as far as capabilities and OS version a PC is about as bad. The only major difference is it's easy for the end user to change those specs. I may not know if an Android has a touchpad built-in, but I don't know if a PC has a gamepad, joystick, glove or any number of other optional extras I COULD support. I don't know how much RAM it has or the nature of the CPU. I don't know what kind of graphics card it has. Like the iPhone desktop Macs are more standardized than their IBM-compatible counterparts and this hasn't resulted in a huge boost in software development for Mac. I would never buy an iPhone for my own use because I don't like how Apple insists on total control of the hardware and software on the platform. Not every Android app will run on every Android or take advantages of all its features, but so what? That is the price we pay for flexibility.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Some of which are now quad-core monsters. Anyhow - Fragmentation causes problems, no doubt - and many of the Android-bashers and Apple pundits above are well versed in some of those problems. But the answers are fairly simple. In Justin's case - if there isn't a huge amount of support for a specific hardware feature-set - say a device with a D-Pad - then you don't bother wasting your time writing code to accommodate it. Like any software development project, the coder has to weigh the benefits and return on the time spent adding a feature or support. You write for the lowest common denominator that gives the most satisfying feature-set. In the world of Android, with 56% of devices supporting Gingerbread (and hardware that can handle Gingerbread) - that is a pretty powerful feature-set you can code for as a baseline. You can target certain niches if those niches offer promise and long-term return, for example, tablets that support HD app screen resolutions or Nvidia graphic chipsets. But a Droid 1 D-pad? That is a legacy hardware feature that isn't going to give you a great return on the time you spend to utilize it in your app at this point. I've had a myriad of Android devices including a Droid 1, a Droid 2, a Coby Kyros and an ASUS Transformer - and I've reviewed countless others. Most apps worth having have performed consistently and tolerable across that entire range of devices. You can have a Core Duo or a Core i5 or Core i7 processor desktop or notebook with a variety of memory capacities and video GPUs and this creates (and always has created) a terribly fractured environment for PC gaming *and* applications. That platform has consistently overcome those barriers through a lot of creative solutions, and it is the most popular software delivery platform of *all* time with apps designed to run on an 8 bit 8088 still able to execute on a modern i7 multi--core, multi-CPU enterprise class server. How many games allow you to set from very low resolution and graphic feature set to outrageous resolution and incredible shading, rendering and environmental effects? This is a solution to platform fragmentation. How about input? Anything from a regular mouse and keyboard to a USB joystick or d-pad to an advanced custom control system. If anything illustrates that this kind of "fractured" environment is as much of an asset as it is a liability, that is probably it. Keep in mind, the PC environment has had 30+ years to massage those issues out and figure out how to support that kind of widely diversified computing platform environment. Android smart-phones have been around for less than a decade. Fractured is just another word for choice and freedom, something the emerging paradigm of computing platforms are sorely lacking in.

TGGIII
TGGIII

Your point that Android is less worse than browsers did not hit home with me. That position as cream of the c*ap leaves me scratching my head. I am looking for tools that allow me to perform my duties without the no value add activity of troubleshooting software/hardware interaction issues. As a user new to Apple products, I find the lack of Flash support irritating but the ease of use and simplicity are huge winners. I'm in agreement with other commenters that Android will need to reduce variation (improve quality) if they want to compete for my business. I guess that there is nothing worse than a reformed...anything.

bob.slattery
bob.slattery

I'd rather manage web browsers in the enterprise than Android devices...

Hazydave
Hazydave

Sure, Microsoft said Windows 7 Phone is the future. However, Windows Mobile 6.5 actually outsold Windows 7 Phone in 2011. Microsoft has the ultimate in fragmentation now -- a line of phones they've already basically dumped, that's still going to be around for several years, still with user expecting support because they bought a new device. And the line of new Windows 7 phones, which are currently in Microsoft's Mobile Minority. Not everyone buying phones knows the big plans Microsoft has in mind for the future. In fact, I'd claim that people buying Microsoft phones, like RIM buyers, in general don't understand the market, but are reacting to something the IT people at their office told them -- or the office actually bought the phones for them. Either way, Microsoft can claim it's not, but this is still fragmentation. Microsoft is apparently expecting all of their WinMo6 developers to just drop all their customers, the way Microsoft apparently plans to, and develop for Windows 7 Phone. Is that a realistic thing? Would you buy from someone who dropped support for your brand new device, refused updates, and encouraged their developers to leave you behind. This is a problem for Microsoft, and it's not even really "hitting the fan" just yet, largely due to the fact Win7Phone was all but absent from the market in 2011 (1.4% of all smartphones by the end of the year... they sold in all of 4Q2011 less than what Apple or Android did on a good day in 4Q2011). As for Metro look-alike Apps for iPhone or Android... not really true. Apple wouldn't accept such for the iTunes store. And they'd fail on Android, too. No one wants Metro on Apple or Android, no one wants Metro on the Windows desktop for that matter. Stay tuned, it's going to be a great year of Schadenfreude for folks not happy with Microsoft's history, policies, and/or just plain ego.

T3CHN0M4NC3R
T3CHN0M4NC3R

Windows Phone 7 will not guarantee Microsoft's Mobile supremacy for all Google and Apple can care. They might just choke Blackberry but will not go anywhere near Apple or Google. Despite all your fancy words about business modeling and stuff, Microsoft products are still problematic and it's not just some Microsoft Office or Internet explorer problems. Their SCCM, SCOM, etc can be pain in the ass at times.

radleym
radleym

... so what? What's the relevance?

T3CHN0M4NC3R
T3CHN0M4NC3R

Fragmentation is what Apple lovers or iPhags use to bash Android phones simply because they don't understand what Android means and what the phone manufacturers are doing. To put simply, every companies want profit, but then, so do everyone, right? So how do company profit from selling something common? Take a t-shirt for example, Company A sells a t-shirt, and company B sells t-shirt as well. So how will both of them sell their t-shirts? Can they profit by selling empty white t-shirts? Of course they will add something fashionable like body fitting feature, some fancy artworks, or maybe phrase that will attract people, right? So, how do either of these 2 company prevent the other from selling the same thing? Trademarks and patented designs obviously right? So guess what happens when a product is trademarked and patented? Their price start to skyrocket due to their uniqueness even though in the end of the day it's just a t-shirt and so they profit. Apply this concept onto Android phones: How do Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, HTC, etc compete with each other? They develop their own form factors, unique frameworks and apps like Touchwiz, Sense, Motoblur, etc. What's the problem? Google forgot or overlooked to set some limitation on screen resolution, chipset support and so on probably to show their "openness". So what happens? The over-rated so-called "fragmentation". I just simply don't get it. Why all these "fragmentation" keeps getting echoed all over when it did happened to Windows and Symbian? What do you people have against Android? The threat Android has imposed on iOS? If the reports are right, there still isn't any single phone model that can outsell iPhone(yet) for all Apple can care. For whatever reasons you guys slam "fragmentation" label on Android devices you guys always forget the fact that, different makers of Android phones are intending not to only eat up Apple but also the rest of fellow Android phone makers. So, whatever phones not Google's Nexus series, Sony Ericsson will still be Sony Ericsson, Samsung will still be Samsung and so on no matter Android or Windows or whatever OS they use. They are not in the same family and do not share the same vision and mission of Google Android. They just loan partially from Google.

Gisabun
Gisabun

And what does this got to do with fragmentation?

Justin James
Justin James

... if you look at average sales per app, WP7 beats BOTH of them, and I believe RIM does too! Better to be the big fish (or only fish) in a small pond then a small fish in a massive pond. J.Ja

radleym
radleym

How does this relate to android fragmentation?

radleym
radleym

...above. Again, there are a negligible number of pre-gingerbread phones out there. And I have heard of very few apps that work on 2.2 and not on 2.3 (can't think of any offhand - I had no problems upgrading). Developers seem to have no problems developing for android. So that leaves two types of people complaining about fragmentation - iOS users, and people that don't get free updates, which were not part of the deal when they bought the phone, but are told by bloggers and apple-ites that they should get them anyway - usually without knowing what the update will or will not do for them anyway.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

I have had problems getting an iPhone 4S to connect to an exchange 2010 SP1 server. Same account works fine on a HTC thunderbolt. Personally I have had more problems with iPhones than android phones, but that is just my personal experience. Take a look at iPhone and active sync and you will find carnage every where. It's easy to find problems on the internet, but that is not always a good indication that it is a particular platform. Bill

nick
nick

Greg, you learnt a lesson about compatibility. Do you understand what you learnt? The way your comments are worded makes me think that you have made the mistake that everybody in IT makes at some stage. I have made it several times. The 5 minute job. Your thinking probably went like this: The new Samsung Phone. It's new and works for me it must be good. It runs Android. I know Android runs Active Sync on other platforms. This is a no brainer. A 5 minute job. And then it all turns to custard. The lesson is not to avoid Android and swing to Apple. The lesson is more along the following lines next time you speak to a client or prospect. You need to be less ready to jump in boots and all and use a more cautious approach. "I use a 'device whatever' and really like it. I think that it would be meet all of your requirements. However we need to test it in your environment before committing a lot of my time and your money to rolling this out." Then you build a test plan and a user acceptance plan. Next time you spend an "insane amount of time" making something work you have a fallback plan and a way out without losing face.

ultimitloozer
ultimitloozer

"First, neither Windows XP nor IE6 are still available and IE7 was a free upgrade of Windows XP so anyone still dependent on this twelve-year-old browser is foolish." For enterprises with volume licensing, they are most certainly still available and still in use. Being locked into IE6 for many of them is an issue due to internally developed apps that locked them into that particular abortion and it has probably been deemed too expensive to retool the apps to break the lock to IE6. I would imagine that by the end of 2013 any that haven't done their recoding or found other solutions will be reaching full panic mode with all of its associated finger-pointing and blame-shifting. Are they foolish for still using those solutions? Absolutely. They should have kept moving with the technology; but in the corporate world immediate profits outweigh future flexibility. "Second, while Windows XP applications might be incompatible with the Windows Vista / 7 platforms, applications written for Windows 7 are certainly compatible with Windows XP. " Most apps coded for XP will work on Vista and 7, but it is less likely to work the other way around, especially if the app coded for Win7 uses features not present in the previous operating systems.

cwarner7_11
cwarner7_11

MY next computer will be running neither Windows nor MacOSX. I am rather fond of the "fragmentation" of the 'nix world- I have choices that wouldn't be available in the vendor-lock-in world...

Gisabun
Gisabun

First, you forgot IE8 for Win XP. I think some of the game manufacturers have ditched supporting Windows XP as a supported OS. I suspect when Win XP dies in 2014, so will most 32-bit support even thoughg many Vista users use the 32-bit OS because their "group" is small. If anything the biggest fragmentation is in Linux. How many distros are out there? It's in the hundreds but there are really 4-5 major ones. Even then, they all add up to 1.2% of the total OS marketshare.

drizo72
drizo72

Obviously you haven't tried windows phone 7. It's the first time MS got something 100% right, but NO, in your mind, everything MS is problematic. You might have an app for that, but hate to break the news to you, I have a phone for that! a phone that works!

Justin James
Justin James

I think you meant "pre-Froyo". And no, 14% is not "negligible". If 5% - 10% of users running IE6 is enough to make most Web devs take it into account (many devs took 5% as the true "cut off"), 14% of users on Android pre-Froyo is serious too. I may note, Flash has about 95% penetration on desktop PCs while Silverlight never got past about 80%... which is the major reason why Silverlight was never a true Flash alternative. 95% compatibility is the magic line for devs writing public facing apps, it seems, which means that the lowest common denominator for Android is 2.0, if not 1.6! J.Ja

radleym
radleym

This crummy editor won't let me correct them.

Justin James
Justin James

Something as common and as important as hooking up via ActiveSync falls under the umbrella of "things that should 'just work'". Any device, OK, etc. for which it doesn't "just work" is not suitable. If that means that he switches to iPhone... well, it makes sense to me. You know that an iOS or WP7 device will ALWAYS "just work" with ActiveSync, so why go through the headache of messing around with phones that might not "just work" or require testing and tweaking? Why commit to an ecosystem where you can replace a device with a next-gen device and you find out that it's gotten worse instead of better because new tweaks were added? J.Ja

vl1969
vl1969

I had make the same mistake in assuming that before and got burned. not ALL windows devices just work. I had HTC Tilt (Win CE 6.0) that worked just fine with Active Sync and exchange for years. I upgraded to HTC HD2 ,and spend almost a week trying get it to work with my home PC and work exchange server, same way as my old Tilt did. and HD2 was (and still is) a good phone. I have used it for years after that. All my past experience simply tells me that NOTHING "just works" ALL the time. no matter what platform you choose you still might have problems making it work as you desire. that is where a good preparation and testing comes in. any good IT person will prepare for trouble and test,test,test any new device that out to be integrated into corporate environment. search the web for issues, and solutions beforehand. and if you do not have any choice (the boss just got a new toy and you are stuck in figure it out how to make it play nice with your system.) then tell the boss that it WILL take time for you to figure it out and at the end it might not work or it might not work @ 100% until system is updated to more modern version.