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Not every problem with Android should be called "fragmentation"

0. phoneArena 22 Mar 2012, 16:40 posted on

Every single time we post an article about the next Android OS update, there is the inevitable calls about fragmentation, and how Google should fix its "fragmentation" problem, which people claim is exacerbated...

This is a discussion for a news. To read the whole news, click here

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 16:41 8

1. paulyyd (Posts: 338; Member since: 08 Jan 2011)


posted on 22 Mar 2012, 16:44 23

2. good2great (Posts: 1042; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)

oh lord... this is about to be a 500+ commented post...lol

grabs popcorn and reading glasses...


posted on 23 Mar 2012, 05:58 5

82. ayephoner (Posts: 850; Member since: 09 Jun 2009)

good write up micheal.

but, a rose by any other name.....

posted on 23 Mar 2012, 08:17 6

86. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)

nice read as usual from Micheal but one question. why is not everybody from PA on the same page ?
there is an article by Victor H. which says
"And if we are to trust DigiTimes, Android 5.0 should make fragmentation even worse as the publication expects the new version to arrive as early as May or June. Internally, this is allegedly slowing down phone manufacturers with ICS updates as they try to prepare for 5.0."


posted on 24 Mar 2012, 00:18 8

111. blazee (Posts: 412; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)

yea it seems like not every writer on this site is on the same page, sometimes not even the same book. Its like the knowledge amongst the writers here is "fragmented" lol

posted on 24 Mar 2012, 00:29 5

112. blazee (Posts: 412; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)

btw im not trolling, just making a joke. i love reading the articles on this site :)

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 16:52 7

3. drtech (banned) (Posts: 135; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)

I agree that there's some fragmentation on every platform. It is however much much worse on android. For example ios 5 came out in October and was imediately available for all supported iPhones. Ice cream sandwich has been out for months and is only available to a handful of devices. Im typing this on the Galaxy Tab 7.7. Brand new device and yet it's running 3.2.

Also on my ios devices apps are compatible immediately. I downloaded hulu plus to the galaxy tab and it says my device is not supported. Android definetly is a LOT more fragmented tan other platforms.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 17:27 28

14. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2705; Member since: 26 May 2011)

I updated the article to respond to this. I didn't make it clear enough the first time around. I don't like the idea of calling app incompatibility "fragmentation" because that insinuates that the fault with the incompatibility lies with Google or the Android platform, which isn't the case. Hulu Plus isn't available on your Galaxy Tab or my Galaxy Nexus because of restrictions placed by the developer, not by faults in the Android system. There is nothing stopping that app from running except the will of the developer.

That is a problem, but it isn't "fragmentation". It's developers building apps with limitations.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 17:29 3

15. drtech (banned) (Posts: 135; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)

Why do I not have that issue on iOS? The reason can vary, but the user experience is better on iOS.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 17:46 23

20. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2705; Member since: 26 May 2011)

Aha, but that's not the argument. I would never claim that Android has a more seamless user experience than iOS, and I hope I haven't unintentionally insinuated that here.

The Android system alone doesn't cause these problems, so it is simply unfair to claim them as "fragmentation" problems. They are problems, but not ones that we need to target Google to fix.

Every problem with the Android platform (of which there are quite a few) can't all be thrown under the blanket of "fragmentation". There are problems with slow updates, but that isn't a fragmentation issue, it's a delay caused by manufacturers and carriers. There are problems with app compatibility, but that isn't fragmentation either, it's a problem with developers.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 17:57 1

28. theBankRobber (Posts: 681; Member since: 22 Sep 2011)

Your response has confused him, sorry to say but it happens ALOT when fan boys on both sides argue.

posted on 23 Mar 2012, 01:29 7

80. speckledapple (Posts: 892; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)

I think this is about the clearest explanation there can be about the issues. Our systems are based on factors that are often out of control. With Apple, the benefit for them is that they control every aspect of their ecosystem. Thus, it is easier for them to update or release something and have it supported across many devices.

However, manufacturers with their embelishments cause slow updates to their devices because they want to be different. Carriers cause slow updates because it must be optimized for their network. Google, as they are, are does not control everything and that hurts their situation. Either way, Android is a great OS but it needs all the players in it to just stop messing with it.

posted on 23 Mar 2012, 07:13 6

84. hepresearch (unregistered)

I see your point; however, if Google was to strongly take Android in hand and control it completely, like Apple does with iOS, they would no longer be providing an open-source ecosystem. Android would become just another walled-garden OS, and would no longer be as advertised. The day that Google turns to total control will be the day that Android becomes another iOS or BlackBerry.

Now, some may argue that no one really cares to have open-source any more (I hear that arguement a lot from people I know well), because no one who isn't a total nerdy/geeky techie truly bothers to develop or tweak any more... as one friend put it, "... the real tech-savvy people go to the iPhone because we are cool and have class, and because we can show our tech-savvy by choosing the best of the best, while the hopeless nerds will still cling to their custom Android garbage...", but I believe there are still folks out there who seek to be free to change things to suit them.

If I was a triangular peg, and some kid tried to squeeze me through the square hole, I would be fairly upset... it is true that iOS may be a good fit for a lot of people, but it can't be the best fit for everyone on earth. The nice thing about Android is that it can still be edited to suit a wider array of tastes and requirements than any other platform currently can, and as long as Google doesn't tighten their grip on it too much, it may remain that way... otherwise, Android will just be another pre-shaped hole in a childrens' toy to figure out how to fit the wrong pegs through...

If Google had to give up the open-source portion of Android, and control it much more strictly as many here have said they would like to see, then Android would lose its primary distinction from iOS, and would lose the ability to compete properly... in a choice between two walled-garden ecosystems, I fear that it will be the best overall performer who wins, and in the short-term that would likely end up being iOS. It could still be argued that Android would make itself into a different "shaped-hole" than iOS, but iOS is already optimized to be a good fit for the majority of people ("pegs") who have already looked for a closed-system approach. After all, this is why BlackBerry is already on its way out... it is a walled-garden system being outperformed by a newer, flashier, more universally acceptable walled-garden system in iOS.

What many people here are trying to pass off as "fragmentation" is actually Android's best property... iOS may be the clear winner in terms of stability, uniformity, consistency, and smoothness, but as long as Android continues on the path that it is on now, it will remain the clear winner in terms of customizability and near-universal acceptability. Out-of-the-box, iOS is what Apple makes it to be, but Android is whatever you can make it to be once you get it out of the box.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 18:23 18

41. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

ive seen plenty of app crashes on friend's iphones. dont pretend that its immune to simple programing errors.

Being immediately availible for download, and being on every device are 2 different things. When iOS is updated, it has to wait for every last user to hear about the update, and then go do it.. for every update. then you have all the minor updates in between. Thus you have users running every version of iOS all over the boards, at any time, since most dont pay attention to updates.

When google releases an update, it may take more time for a manufacturer to suite it to their needs, then pass carrier inspection, but when its released, its auto downloaded on thousands/millions of phones and the update is done.. without the individual needing to do or know anything. Thus android gets updated FASTER on the long haul.
When the HTC Amaze has an update availibe, every HTC Amaze gets it immediately (not counting staggered roll outs which only increase it by a few days). When the i4 has an update, the user must first find out about it, then go find his computer with itunes, and download it and be proactive.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 18:50 5

44. bonsly16 (Posts: 70; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)

I would just like to simply point out that iOS devices with 5+ can receive OTA updates. I believe that many people must've updated their iPhone 4 by now and iPhone 4s are already updated.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 18:56 2

47. drtech (banned) (Posts: 135; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)

Thank you remix's rant was pointless since iOS 5 has OTA updates. Also remix I never said anything about apps crashing. I said I cant even use the app at all

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 20:27 14

57. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

if an app is not compatible with your android version or phone, it doesnt even show up in the marketplace. try again.

Yes, iOS5 has OTA updates. Considering only i4s gets full iOS5, and every other version of the iphone that IS ALLOWED to have iOS5, only gets a partial OS update, then only i4s's have the full iOS5.. which in itself is REAL fragmentation.

And no, I bet its still less than 35-40% of all iOS users have iOS5, because unless they bought a new i4s, they had to know about the update and then go about downloading it themselves. And yes, the "rant" is still completely viable because not every iphone has iOS5, now does it.. so the problem is nowhere near solved.

I swear, you ifanatics think just because apple released it, the whole ecosystem magically updates at once. It doesnt.. never has and it wont for a long long time to come. Apple is still selling tons of 3GS and i4 models because of how cheap they are. So until all iphone models get full iOS5, fragmentation is going to get WORSE not better.

And if your going to call one or the other fragmentation, i would say that sending out full updates to 1 device and partial updates to another is real fragmentation, since no matter what, you will NEVER have the full OS.
Android may have devices on different versions, but when they get the update, they get the full thing, not some half baked update just to say they got it, like iOS does.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 22:55 1

75. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)

actually i think you are quite wrong about the updates… contrary to popular belief, ios users are not retards and can actually sign in to itunes for an update, or just go OTA…

this link shows how after just 5 days of being released, ios 5 was on a third of all iphones…


Edit: i can't get the links to work for gosh knows why… it puts some weird numbers in there that i delete but they always reappear… but u could either trust me or google it.. haha


this one showws how even back in january, 66 percent of iphones were on the newest os 5.0.1… this data comes from bump, which is an older app, therefor showing a accurate update number rather than inundation of new devices number

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 22:22

72. viper5208 (Posts: 3; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)

This definitely is not true. My samsung captivate needs to connect to kies in order to get 2.3. Which is complete b.s. because I can not get the right version of kies because my personal computer is a mac book pro. So basically I am stuck at 2.2 because I use a mac. So your argument that all android devices get updated automatically once it is released is simply not true either.

posted on 26 Mar 2012, 15:18 1

129. CM_Punk (banned) (Posts: 173; Member since: 13 Mar 2012)

Everything is better on iOS.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 20:00 2

53. nnaatthhaannx2 (Posts: 820; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)

I believe you wrote this based on your reply to cellphonator on the jelly bean article.

Am I right?

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 20:06

55. Penny (Posts: 1653; Member since: 04 Feb 2011)

@ Michael

Honestly, the biggest factor for fragmentation in the Android platform stems from Android's strategy of being open source. Allowing multiple manufacturers to customize the OS to their specific hardware often creates incompatibilities between different devices of the same platform. I'm not saying that this is a bad strategy, but that this is the strategy chosen by Google/Android and therefore a significant portion of the blame lies with them.

I would put less blame on the developers who have to use their often limited resources to reach as many people as possible. Developing for just one Android version would be an ideal situation for a developer, but that is not the case. He would have to develop for multiple iterations of Android to reach the entire Android base, and that may be less efficient of a strategy than to just develop for the most popular version of Android and then develop for other platforms.
I think one would be headed in the wrong direction to argue that any developer would voluntarily introduce code that eliminate a portion of his/her potential user base. If anything, they would only be doing so because they had to do it to make the app work on the version of the OS they were prioritizing.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 20:51 4

60. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5711; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)

yeah, Hulu has really been slacking off. look at Netflix. you can get it on any Android device. the Hulu devs really have no excuse for this.

posted on 23 Mar 2012, 09:09 1

92. hepresearch (unregistered)

Perhaps Hulu has already met its current brain-sucking needs... they need to hire more employees before they can start sucking more brains...


posted on 26 Mar 2012, 13:22

120. c.hack (Posts: 613; Member since: 09 Dec 2009)

I think the lack of updates or major delays is not entirely a fragmentation problem. While it is true that the manufacturers place their own bloatware on their phones and tablets, the reason why we don't get updates is a combination of poor support from android phone manufacturers, and their desire to make their phones unique (the fragmentation part).

This would not be a big deal if they would allow us to install the latest version for android when it comes out - unless its a Nexus they don't.

Even worse are the manufacturers that lock the bootloaders so we cannot install our own ROMs (I'm talking about you Motorola).

I have the worst example, a Droid DX2. Motorola loaded its crap motoblur on it - fragmentation. Then decided it would never provide the ICS update even though the phoe is less than a year old (poor support + fragmentation) and locked the bootloader (just plain poor)

The end result is that we pay iPhone prices for phones that are poorly supported and so locked down we cannot even update them. "Open" android is a myth.

That's why I switched to an iPhone. In many ways its more open then my DX2 will ever be. Especially if you consider it can e jailbroken.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 16:54 4

4. Toad222 (Posts: 9; Member since: 03 Mar 2012)

Every one who dislikes android because of fragmentation or has an apple product should read this article. That shows them right heh.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 16:57 4

5. PAPINYC (banned) (Posts: 2315; Member since: 30 Jul 2011)

'There isn't one singular iOS device. In fact, there are now 3 different iPads, 4 different versions of iPod Touch, 5 different iPhones, and 3 versions of Apple TV, which run a modified version of iOS. For clarity, we'll just be counting the mobile devices, which means 12 total variants of iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
This means the iOS ecosystem is filled with multiple screen resolutions, screen sizes and internal hardware. And, the ecosystem is also filled with multiple software versions.'....

And, they all run on iFragmented WiFi !!!

posted on 26 Mar 2012, 13:26

121. c.hack (Posts: 613; Member since: 09 Dec 2009)

And yet all the iPhones and iPads made in the past 2 years got every single iOS update on the day it was released. That's better support than any Android phone.

The iOS fragmentation was planned to maximize app compatibility and developer support.

The android fragmentation was planned to maximize manufacturer and carrier profits with no concern about support for the customers. If you doubt that just call Google's customer support. lol

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 17:00 8

6. RazaAsad (Posts: 100; Member since: 24 Nov 2011)

@ Michael H: Very well written.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 17:01 6

7. drtech (banned) (Posts: 135; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)

Michael you can barely contain your fanboyism you really belong in the comments and not writing articles.

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