It would be bad form to delve into the world of Android fragmentation wearing a pair of rose-colored glasses, but also don't overlook the upsides to the OS's segmentation.
On some levels, the segmented nature of the Android OS is a pain for developers and smartphone users. But there are truly great aspects of segmentation that affect users in a positive way, and there are some upsides for Android developers too.
Advantages of fragmentation for Android developers
- Android is open: Android is a mostly open platform. This means you have complete control over your development cycle.
- The market is massive: Billions of people use mobile phones all over the globe, which means you have access to a massive marketplace. Although some of these mobile users aren't smartphone savvy, sooner rather than later, the majority of the world's mobile phone owners will have smartphone access. As the Android global market share grows, there's expected to be a huge increase in demand for Android apps.
- Diversity and flexibility: You can cater to a wide range of users. With Google Play, you have the ability to position yourself and your firm as the be-all-end-all of Android app development. This is especially true if you're able to build multiple versions of your apps that scale across multiple Android OS versions.
Advantages of fragmentation for Android users
- Try before you buy: Google Play lets users try an application for 15 minutes before they buy it; this means users don't have to waste time or money on apps they'll download once and never use again. This fosters an environment where users start to trust certain mobile developers to deliver quality Android applications, regardless of OS version.
- Device freedom: Multiple hardware configurations put the freedom in the hands of the consumer. In other words, users can choose the exact phone that will meet their application and functionality needs.
These points don't mean that fragmentation isn't frustrating; they simply highlight that Google, Android developers, and handset manufacturers should embrace Android's diversity. You're not locked in to stringent development rules like with iOS, and you can build the apps you want to reach your desired users.