Home Editorials SmartPhone Fragmentation: A Riddle Wrapped in an Enigma

SmartPhone Fragmentation: A Riddle Wrapped in an Enigma

Google’s Android has been taking a rap for some time now because of fragmentation. You know fragmentation. It’s when there are multiple handsets by multiple makers, each of which has to tailor the OS to their hardware. This leads to multiple versions of the OS out there and that creates challenges for App developers who have to make sure their Apps work on multiple handsets, OS versions, etc.. Accepted wisdom is that this was one of the many problems with Microsoft’s Windows Mobile.

Peter Yared is saying that with the impending release of the iPhone 4, following on the heels of the iPad, that Apple has now succeeded in doing the same with its iDevices.

Call me crazy, and call me curious, but isn’t this as inevitable as the changes in the weather? I don’t think any company is going to stop creating once they’ve found something that works so that will lead to hardware and software advances. That will inevitably lead to multiple versions of devices and OS variants in the market place. Unless you’re Apple who controls the entire package, you need and want partners and everyone has their own agenda and business model to follow. And even Apple isn’t going to sit still with one device forever. It seems like the only way to prevent it is to have a different OS for each device, and that obviously isn’t a workable way of doing business.

So, while I feel the developers pain, and understand the confusion this can cause in the market, I think fragmentation is inevitable, especially in the fast paced world of mobile tech.

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2 Comments

  1. Ben

    06/10/2010 at 6:13 am

    I’m no professional android developer, but I can’t believe fragmentation is as huge of a problem for devs as some people make it out to be. I’d imagine that many apps don’t need to use the latest and greatest APIs, and can get by using the 1.5 or 1.6 APIs. They should be forward compatible with the newest android phones, then. Of course, some apps do need to use the latest and greatest, but that’s just the cost of a highly competitive and quickly evolving environment.

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  2. Sumocat

    06/10/2010 at 10:53 am

    Peter, unfortunately, has confused advancement with fragmentation. Fragmentation, as seen in the past, occurs when multiple companies take an OS in multiple directions. While Android is certainly seeing this with companies modding it for every form factor they can think of, the core build remains under Google’s control. Looking strictly at the official Google releases, Android is about as fragmented as Windows. Likewise, iOS is solidly under Apple’s control and offered with fewer options for screen sizes and form factors than Mac OS X. By Peter’s logic, Windows and Mac OS X are horribly fragmented.

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