The Big Bad World of Android Fragmentation, Story Of 11.8k Distinct Android Devices
Android Ecosystem is extremely fragmented, and that fragmentation is growing at a rapid pace. The openness of Android, while being its biggest strength, is also one of its main weakness.
OpenSignal, UK based Mobile solutions company carried out a study on Android fragmentation and some of the numbers revealed are quite startling.
According to the report, Opensignal scanned over 682,000 Android devices and came across 11,868 distinct ones (smartphones, tablets and other android devices). Because the sample size is relatively small, the number of distinct devices can actually be higher than that!
Here is a graphical representation of Android devices, along with their potential market share.
Samsung Galaxy and Note Phones ruled the charts with a whooping 18 out of top 20 android devices encountered were either Galaxy or Note phones. The other 2 devices were Nexus 4 and Nexus 7.
It is clear that Android device fragmentation is rising rapidly. Last year OpenSignal encountered 3,997 devices as compared to 11,868 this year – Nearly 400 percent increase!
Among the device brands, Samsung is the undisputed leader with nearly 47.5 percent of all the Android devices coming from Samsung. Samsung Galaxy S3, S2 and Note 2 were the top 3 devices.
Though Micromax has sold in large numbers in India, at a global level, it’s market share is quite low[See the purple squares marked with black border at bottom right]. According to Opensignal, Sony-Ericsson comes in 2nd with 6.5 percent market share among all Android devices.
What adds to this fragmentation is also the fact that these devices runs different version of Android OS – Currently at 8 different versions.
OS fragmentation is one of main issues that Android App developers face, while building their apps. Even as Android 4.3 has been released, the majority of devices (34%) are still on nearly one and half year old Gingerbread, while 23.3 percent are on Ice Cream Sandwich.
If device and OS fragmentation is not enough for developers, they also have to put up with varied screen-sizes and resolutions that all these different android device carry. The graphic below shows different screen-sizes based on information from 3.41 million OpenSignal users.
The darkness of lines denotes the frequency of the device.
While the fragmentation is overwhelming, especially from app developers point of view, one thing needs to be noted that Android is maturing as an OS. It is in its 9th iteration, and things are getting easy for developers due to the flexibility that Android offers on its developer system.
[Note: All graphics are sourced from OpenSignal]