A few years ago I read an article about Android OS fragmentation among smartphones. What has happened in the more than three years since? More fragmentation.
In fact, if one tried to describe the differences between Apple’s iPhone and iOS vs. Google’s Android and its many versions and manufacturers, it would be this. It’s unification vs. fragmentation. That synopsis helps to explain why Android OS has failed most of the smartphone makers and why they– and Google– can’t make any money with it.
The 90-percent Crowd
A new study shows that about 90-percent of all iOS devices, iPhone and iPad, are running iOS 8.x, the latest from Apple. Android’s most recent, Lollipop, has a number of versions and after a few years total penetration in the market is about 18-percent.
Apple is the only company that makes iPhones and iOS. On the other end of the scale is Android, now with more than 24,000 different device models from 1,300 different brands. Choice is good, right? Certainly, there’s a segment of the smartphone and tablet buyer that prefers what I affectionately term, choice and cheap.
Yet, a growing number of more sophisticated smartphone and tablet users– and the corporate IT segment of business– view that fragmentation as a problem to be avoided at all costs. Why?
The first and possibly the most important reason is security. Apple updates each version of iOS frequently throughout a year (before the next version is launched with new iPhones), and as the current stats show, the vast majority of iPhone and iPad users upgrade accordingly, if not automatically.
Most Android smartphone users never upgrade to a newer version (often because they cannot); instead, they buy a new smartphone, as many security upgrades are never made available to the user base. That’s criminal. Is it any wonder that sophisticated buyers and businesses flock to iOS, which owns a commanding share of the enterprise smartphone and tablet usage?
Wisely, Apple has remained disciplined and avoided the nightmare of thousands of devices and hundreds of manufacturers and focused on building a cohesive, secure, and easily upgradable product and infrastructure to support an ever growing number of customers.
The top Android smartphone manufacturers– Samsung, LG, HTC, Xiaomi, Huawei, Sony and others– combined have less than 10-percent of the industry’s profits, while Apple has 90-percent, and the iPhone and iPad together top all other makers in total usage. Apple builds a product that is used. I can’t tell you why a few hundred other manufacturers even bother to build and sell Android smartphones or tablets. Their efforts are certainly not to make money.