Why did she buy an Amazon Fire phone? The bullet points were impressive, the videos made it look great, it had features the iPhone does not, and it runs all the Android apps. Oops. Buyer’s remorse set in quickly. Amazon Fire phone does not run Google apps. It’s a fact that’s the case with most Android-based smartphones. The effect is part of what is called fragmentation.
100%, Divided By A Gazillion
It’s a bit of an exaggeration to say that Apple sells only one iPhone when there are many models– iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, and many different colors and storage options, and different carriers.
The key here is that all those phones, including the older iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s, all run iOS 7, and all but the former will run iOS 8. That’s why over 90-percent of Apple’s iPhone and iPad customers run the latest OS.
They can. And the vasty majority of Android smartphone customers cannot run the latest OS version.
It’s not Android vs. iOS. It’s Fragmandroid vs. iOS.
OpenSignal does research on device and brand fragmentation and the results are graphic. Really. Graphical.
Last year OpenSignal tracked almost 12,000 different, distinct Android devices. This year they tracked almost 19,000. Android’s fragmentation problem is getting worse, not better.
That means that only a tiny minority of Android smartphone owners will be able to upgrade to the latest version. Compare that to the more than 90-percent of iPhone users who run the latest OS version.
If you think that’s bad for Android, you’re right. But it gets worse.
There’s also a thing called Brand Fragmentation. And, other than Samsung, whose smartphone and tablet operations are nominally profitable, it’s also not a pretty picture. Nearly half of all Android devices tracked came from Samsung.
Chinese copycat maker Xiaomi is so far down in the fragmentation as to be mostly invisible. You have to hunt to find it.
Why is all this fragmentation on Fragmandroid such a big deal?
First, there’s an issue with the user interface. It varies greatly between manufacturers, while the iOS interface remains consistent between devices. Second, app developers simply cannot develop apps for over 18,000 different models, so they have to focus on the numbers that matter.
That means that most of the Android population won’t have as many high quality apps to choose from; and most don’t even qualify for Google Play and won’t run Google’s well designed applications. That would be Amazon’s Kind Fire tablets and Fire phone, and other cheap knockoffs.
As they say, it’s a jungle out there. While the smartphone and tablet industry might be dominated by Android’s sheer numbers, and Samsung taking up all the profits, Apple and iPhone and iPad customers have less to worry about and, overall, a much better user experience.