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Is Android Fragmentation a real problem or an excuse?

Sections: Communications, Computers, Google, Mobile Computers, Smartphones

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Hey Android users, are you drooling over Facebook’s new Paper app? Or maybe you’re dying to try the popular new trivia game app QuizUp? How about Amazon Instant Video or the Nike+ Fuelband? Sorry, you’re out of luck. These and many other popular apps are available for people who have iPads or iPhones only. Why? Some call it flat out snobbery or discrimination, while others defend the practice and say Android fragmentation is to blame. How can developers be expected to make sure their app works well on the many different screen sizes and devices that run Android? they say. Others claim Android doesn’t have a market share worth developing for. Are these legit issues or just excuses? Let’s take a look.

According to a recent report by Businessweek, Android is still leading in market share, 51.5% to iOS’s 42%. Both platforms are popular, so it doesn’t really make much sense for developers to snub one for the other. Is fragmentation a real issue? Honestly, not so much anymore. Most devices are running ICS or Jellybean with KitKat slowly moving in. This isn’t much different than the many Apple devices running OS 5, 6 and 7.

Developers don’t need to concern themselves with Froyo, Honeycomb or any of the older versions. Just like people who insist on running Windows 98, those who insist on keeping ancient phones shouldn’t have any expectation of new apps running on them. I don’t think screen size should be an issue either. If developers have no problem making their apps look good on the iPhone, iPad Mini and iPad, the various screen sizes of Android devices just shouldn’t be a problem.

So what is at the root of the issue? If you are a developer whose apps are iOS only, I would love to hear from you. Users, I want to hear from you as well. What are your thoughts on the matter, and does it bother you that some apps are iOS only?

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